The gothic cross tattoo on Mickey Baucus' left arm comes with an inky inscription: "Other things may change us, but we start and end with family."

It is an article of faith and a statement of fact.

The Arizona Wildcats' left tackle has changed area codes, pants sizes and positions since enrolling at the UA last fall, but he remains committed to the reasons he came to Tucson in the first place.

The 6-foot-8-inch, 295-pound Baucus is expected to open the season as the anchor of the Wildcats' revamped offensive line; his older brother, Jack, will line up next to him at tight end.

The Baucus brothers weren't exactly a package deal coming out of Carmel Catholic High School in Mundelien, Ill., but they're fast becoming twin keys to the Wildcats' offensive front. Jack will catch passes; Mickey, meanwhile, will protect quarterback Nick Foles' blind side.

"It's a big responsibility," Mickey Baucus said. "I go out there with the intention of winning every snap. You can't go out there and play scared. I'm a freshman going up against seniors; if you let that hold you down, you're not going to be a good football player. I'm not going to let that bother me."

Foles said he knows the feeling well.

The Wildcats quarterback spent his freshman season at Michigan State, battling a handful of accomplished signal-callers for playing time.

Since transferring to Arizona, Foles has watched countless other young players adjust to increased expectations.

"People sometimes forget they're freshmen," Foles said. "Every single freshman on the team has done a good job of fighting through.

"They're getting to the point where they're starting to realize they're a big part of the team in the practices and scrimmages."

Baucus, for one, isn't backing down from the biggest challenge of his young career. The Wildcats must replace all five starters from last year's team.

Just one of the UA's first-string linemen, center Kyle Quinn, has started a college game.

Baucus shrugged off the notion that the Wildcats' line will be a question mark this fall.

"We're going to go out there and play our game," he said. "People who want to say we can't do this or we can't do that? That's their problem."

That's typical Baucus, Foles said. The Wildcats starting tackle is famously nasty - he scuffled with a fellow recruit during the UA's junior day two years ago - but was composed enough to handle more experienced opponents. Though he is younger than many of the defensive players he faces in practice, Baucus said he has no fear.

"He has a fiery attitude to him. He's really fierce out there," Foles said. "He doesn't back down from anyone. That's what you want from your left tackle."

Said Baucus: "Nick's got my back."

Outside of football, the 19-year-old Baucus keeps his priorities in place. Family comes first, whether it's conversations with his parents, locker-room talk with Jack, or a trip to the tattoo parlor.

Mickey Baucus got his cross tattoo, along with the inscription, during a trip two months ago. It matches a cross tattoo on Jack's back; Mickey drew the original design, and said that while his mom didn't initially like the ink, she understood the sentiment.

On and off the field, it starts - and ends - with family.

"You always want to help the person in need," he said.

"When it's your teammates, it's that much more important."

Up next

• What: Arizona spring game at Arizona Stadium

• When: 1:30 p.m. Saturday • Admission: Free