C.J. Parish brings "toughness and a lot of pop" to H-back.

C.J. Parish has an identity crisis.

He plays linebacker, defensive end and fullback. Fans frequently confuse him with teammate R.J. Young, who - like Parish - hails from Texas.

And don't even try to figure out Parish's jersey number. The Arizona Wildcats' senior is on his third one since training camp.

"I started off with 54, then I had 48 because 28 hadn't come in," he said. "Then I switched to 28."

Starting Saturday, Parish will be easy to pick out. He'll be starting.

The 6-foot-2-inch, 235-pounder is expected to play H-back when the 14th-ranked Wildcats open Pac-10 play against Cal at Arizona Stadium. Starter Taimi Tutogi sprained his left knee in last week's win over Iowa. Coach Mike Stoops has yet to set a return date, though it's possible Tutogi could be back for the Wildcats' Oct. 9 game against Oregon State.

Until then, the job is Parish's to lose.

"Any time I can get on the field and help the team … I'll do anything," Parish said. "I think I'm physical. I like tackling. I like hitting people. The transition wasn't that big a deal for me."

Parish, 21, arrived at the UA last fall as a middle linebacker, the position he played in two seasons at Blinn College in Brenham, Texas. Wildcats coaches made him a special teams player; Parish played in all 13 games, registering tackles against Central Michigan, Oregon State and Washington.

He figured to be in the mix for a starting linebacker job, but Arizona added junior college transfers Derek Earls and Paul Vassallo in January and installed both as starters. Parish played with the second-string defense in training camp until Tutogi's first injury - a sprained ankle - forced coaches to look for a new H-Back.

Parish had the right skill set, and plenty of time on his hands.

"He brings some toughness and a lot of pop," co-offensive coordinator Seth Littrell said. "He's an older guy and has a lot of experience hitting people and being physical."

Parish said it took "a little bit of time" to learn the plays and recognize defenses, but he's getting better every day. Tutogi has helped Parish learn the intricacies of the position; the Wildcats' new H-back stays late after practices to catch passes.

Parish smiles when asked about the switch. The last-minute move has been more than an adjustment.

"It's more like an experience," he said.

On StarNet: See the latest Wildcats Insider video with Ryan Finley at azstarnet.com/video

Up next

• What: Cal at Arizona

• When: 7 p.m. Saturday

• TV: Ch 58, FSAZ Plus

• Radio: 1490-AM, 107.5-FM, 990-AM (Spanish)

Wildcats land wide receiver

The Arizona Wildcats' weekend win over Iowa continues to pay dividends. The UA received a verbal commitment from Palmdale (Calif.) wide receiver David Richards this week.

Richards was in the stands when the Wildcats defeated the Hawkeyes.

The Rivals.com recruiting service lists Richards as a three-star recruit and California's 58th-best player.

The 6-foot-3-inch, 180-pound Richards chose Arizona over offers from Colorado State, Oregon State and San Diego State; a half-dozen Pac-10 schools, including USC and Washington, were also interested.

Ryan Finley