Other quarterback candidates watch senior lefty B.J. Denker, who started one game last year for an injured Matt Scott and led UA over Colorado 56-31.


When Carter Lees cut his shoulder-length hair two weeks ago, he became a different man.

"Everybody thought I was a new recruit," the Arizona Wildcats' guard said. "I was like, guys, there's not that many people running around my size with giant tattoos on their arms.

"But maybe there's something to that."

In a move straight out of a Marvel comic, Lees - a mild-mannered redshirt freshman offensive lineman - made his college debut in Saturday's 48-41 loss to USC. Playing for injured Shane Zink, Lees helped lead the UA to six touchdowns in three quarters, part of an offensive bonanza.

Lees, a 6-foot-5-inch, 320-pound Texas native, is expected to start at left guard when Arizona (1-4 overall, 0-3 Pac-12) travels to Oregon State this weekend.

That he's contributing at all is an accomplishment.

Lees, 19, missed the final two weeks of training camp with a bulging disk in his neck, an injury that - although it didn't require surgery - was painful and limited him on the field. He was cleared right before the Wildcats' Sept. 3 opener against Northern Arizona but found himself buried deep down the depth chat.

Injuries to guards Chris Putton and Zink forced him into action.

Putton didn't play against the Trojans, and Zink, filling in, went down in the second quarter with a leg injury.

Lees was shocked to hear his named called.

"I was watching on the sidelines, and it was like, 'Carter, get in there.' I was shell-shocked," he said. "I just ran in there and played."

At halftime, offensive line coach Robert Anae told Lees that he'd finish the game. By then, Lees said, he had relaxed. The Wildcats scored four second-half touchdowns before losing by a touchdown.

Center Kyle Quinn said Lees, who has improved his pass-blocking exponentially in the last month, "played amazing."

"I told him after the game, 'Carter, you did your job.' He got his chance," Quinn said. "You never know when your name's going to get called. You're on the 10-yard line going in to score, it's an important part of the game, and you get the call. He came in, and he did everything he needed to do. It was good to see."

Lees said he's enjoying his new role; he fits in perfectly on an offensive line known for its quirks.

A fan of comic books and superheroes, Lees sports tattoos of "Beast" from X-Men on his right arm and Captain America on his left. He grew up loving Batman and counts "The Dark Knight" as one of his all-time favorite movies.

Saturday, the Wildcats' guard created a new persona: Call him Everyman.

"When everything's clicking and you're moving the ball," he said, "it's fun."

On StarNet: See a video from the news conference with Mike Stoops and learn more about the UA football team at azstarnet.com/finley

Up next

• What: Arizona at Oregon State

• When: 12:30 p.m. Saturday

• TV: Fox College Sports Pacific (check your cable guide for availability)

• Radio: 1290-AM, 107.5-FM