Cats flipped lids under Stoops

Mike Stoops ushered in an era of navy helmets, and the UA often wore all-blue at home. 


On the day he lost another player to a torn ACL, an exasperated Mike Stoops lamented the Arizona Wildcats' bad luck.

"Things have a way of happening in threes," he said.

So it's no surprise that Jake Fischer's replacement at linebacker will come from a pool of - you guessed it - three true freshmen.

Rob Hankins, Hank Hobson and Domonique Petties are expected to compete for, not only playing time, but a starting job when they arrive in Tucson this summer.

It's out of necessity.

Fischer injured his right knee when he collided with offensive tackle Fabbians Ebbele in the final minutes of Saturday's spring game. Fischer will undergo knee surgery in the next week, the UA announced Wednesday, and is expected to miss the start of the 2011 season.

Fischer's recovery could take as long as seven months.

He is the third UA player to suffer a torn ACL this spring. Starting safety Adam Hall and backup tailback Greg Nwoko injured their knees early in camp and are questionable to start the season with the team.

The loss of Fischer, a former Ironwood Ridge High School standout, is an even bigger blow. Fischer finished with 58 tackles, 7 1/2 tackles for loss and two sacks in 2010.

Coaches likely will turn to Hankins, Hobson or Petties to take Fischer's place. The UA also could play exclusively nickel, moving safety Marquis Flowers into a hybrid position of linebacker/defensive back.

Coaches have a few months to make a decision. Actually, they have three.

"It's unfortunate that it happened in the last few minutes of spring ball," Stoops said of the injury. "But we'll be OK."