Saying he's excited to "have a chance to pay it forward," former Arizona Wildcats and NFL standout Joe Salave'a was hired Thursday to coach defensive tackles at his alma mater.
Salave'a will start Monday, and coach the Wildcats' defensive line in its Dec. 29 Alamo Bowl game against No. 16 Oklahoma State. He replaces Mike Tuiasosopo, who left last week to take a similar job at the University of Colorado.
"I'm humbled but also excited," Salave'a said. "I'm eager to get there, roll up my sleeves and get to work. … It's a great opportunity, and I'm thrilled that Coach (Mike) Stoops has the confidence in me to make this happen."
Salave'a, 35, played for the UA from 1994 to 1997 and spent nine seasons playing for the NFL's Oilers (now Titans), Chargers and Redskins. In 2008, former UA coach Dick Tomey hired Salave'a to coach the defensive line at San Jose State. Salave'a spent two seasons with the Spartans; this summer, he coached with the Seattle Seahawks as part of the NFL's minority internship program.
Like Tuiasosopo, Salave'a - a native of Leone, American Samoa - has connections to many of the country's top Polynesian recruits. He founded the Joe Salave'a Foundation in 2001 to help teach football to children in Hawaii and American Samoa.
Stoops said Thursday that Salave'a "fits what we're doing very well."
"He has a solid history and comes highly recommended," he said. "Joe built a legacy here and in the NFL that will have an immediate impact on our players and in recruiting."
Stoops said he will wait until after the bowl game to replace co-defensive coordinator Greg Brown, who also has accepted a job at CU.
Wildcats sign two junior college players
Arizona signed center Addison Bachman and tight end Drew Robinson to national letters of intent Thursday with hopes that the two junior college transfers can contribute this fall.
Bachman, 6 feet 5 inches and 290 pounds, played two seasons at Citrus College in Glendora, Calif.; as a "super-two" player, he'll only be eligible to compete with the Wildcats through the 2012 season. Robinson caught 28 passes for 346 yards and four touchdowns as a sophomore at Snow College in Utah. The 6-foot-5-inch, 245-pounder will have three seasons to play two.
Both players give Arizona some options on its offensive front; the Wildcats must replace four starting offensive lineman and starting tight end A.J. Simmons next season.
"It was important for us to bolster our depth on the line and at tight end," Stoops said.
Wright plans to travel with team to Alamo Bowl
Wide receiver Bug Wright said he expects to travel with his teammates to San Antonio and play in the Alamo Bowl, three weeks after being suspended for an unspecified violation of team rules.
"It's great to be back," Wright said. "I've been missing my teammates."
Wright, a junior from Tatums, Okla., wouldn't say what led to the suspension but said he's better for it.
"Live and learn, man," he said. "You learn from your mistakes, and you move on."
• Defensive tackle Justin Washington was named a freshman All-American by both The Sporting News and College Football News. Washington is one of four Pac-10 players who received freshman honors from both publications.
• Thirteen current and former Wildcats, including center Colin Baxter, defensive end Ricky Elmore, defensive tackle Lolomana Mikaele and safety Joseph Perkins, will graduate Saturday. Quarterback Bryson Beirne is graduating but still has one season of eligibility remaining; he'll take graduate courses in business starting next month.
On StarNet: Play Ryan Finley's Bowl Challenge contest - make your picks at azstarnet.com/bowls
• What: Arizona (7-5) vs. Oklahoma State (10-2)
• Where: San Antonio
• When: 7:15 p.m. Dec. 29
• TV: ESPN
• Radio: 1290-AM, 1490-AM, 107.5-FM