Arizona Wildcats football


C.J. Parish was admittedly a bit confused in January when Arizona Wildcats coaches asked him to move to defensive end - his third position in two-plus years.

"Yeah I was - for about a second," Parish said. "I knew the coaches knew what was best. They saw something in me. They thought I'd make a good D-end."

So far, Parish has made them look brilliant.

The UA senior registered a team-high two sacks and three tackles-for-loss in Saturday's scrimmage at Arizona Stadium. Parish and University of Houston transfer Mohammed Usman are listed as starters in the UA's spring depth chart, a development that could hold until the Wildcats' Sept. 3 opener against Northern Arizona.

Coach Mike Stoops called Parish, a native of College Station, Texas, who received a medical redshirt in 2010, "a very powerful kid."

But strength has little to do with his recent ascent. Here are three reasons why Parish, 22, is succeeding at his new position:

He's a natural

Parish was recruited to the UA as a linebacker, and switched to fullback when starter Taimi Tutogi injured his leg last summer.

Parish said he's most comfortable on the defensive line, where his quickness off the line and raw strength can be best displayed.

In many ways, it is his most natural position: Parish played both linebacker and defensive end at A&M Consolidated High School and Blinn College before signing with the Wildcats in 2009.

"He likes his hand on the ground," Stoops said.

Parish is still learning the intricacies of the position, from the right way to push an offensive tackle inside on run plays to how to read play-action passes, but said he's coming along quickly.

"It's been a good fit," he said. "I'm trying to use a few different techniques, but it's coming along real good, real smooth. It's been a good transition."

He has the size

Parish has added 10 pounds to his 6-foot-2-inch, 245-pound frame since switching to defensive end. While that still makes him a bit small for the position, Stoops said the senior "plays stronger than he is."

He's healthy, too. Parish said he's completely recovered from the issues that cost him most of the 2010 season. Parish suffered a concussion against Iowa in Week 3, and - because of the aftereffects - wasn't cleared to play again. The NCAA granted Parish a fifth year of eligibility following December's Alamo Bowl loss to Oklahoma State.

He has help

Parish has leaned on the coaching staff during his transition to defensive end, but may be receiving his best advice from three former UA standouts.

Brooks Reed, Ricky Elmore and D'Aundre Reed have helped the likable Parish with the finer points of his new position while preparing for this month's NFL draft.

Parish has thrived with the three former starters in his ear.

Now, all that's missing is a defensive end's number - Parish still wears No. 28, a leftover from his days as a fullback. He's also worn Nos. 54 and 48.

"I might just keep it," Parish said. "I'm a hybrid."

Up next

• What: Arizona spring game

• When: Saturday, April 16, 1:30 p.m.