The next crop of Arizona Wildcats football players will report to campus this weekend, but offensive tackle J'Marcus Webb won't be coming.
The Wildcats' prized recruit has yet to qualify academically, and — barring an unexpected development — will not be a part of the team this fall.
"He's not here, and I haven't heard from him," UA coach Mike Stoops said Monday. "I'm not counting on him."
Webb, 19, signed with the Wildcats in February following stints at The University of Texas and Navarro (Texas) Junior College. He faced an uphill climb academically, however, because he was not on track to earn his associate degree in time for the fall semester. Webb could still enroll at a school with less-strict transfer requirements.
Webb's departure means junior Eben Britton will likely switch to the left side to anchor the offensive line. Returners Adam Grant, Bill Wacholz and James Tretheway and newcomer Phil Garcia would then compete for the right tackle's spot.
Britton played some left tackle during spring drills, and has been tinkering with the spot during the summer.
"Eben can play left tackle, but only if that makes us better at right tackle," Stoops said. "We want to make sure we can protect our quarterback, and (left tackle) is a pretty important position."
Webb is expected to be the team's only academic casualty heading into training camp.
JUCO transfers still in picture for Wildcats
Though Webb is all but gone, a pair of late junior college additions — tailback Nick Booth and defensive back Anthony Wilcox — remains very much a part of the Wildcats' plans for this season.
Booth rushed for 1,090 yards and 15 touchdowns last season at College of DuPage in Naperville, Ill. Stoops said he could challenge starter Nicolas Grigsby for playing time.
Stoops can't watch voluntary workouts per NCAA rules, but said Booth "from what I've heard, could be a sleeper. There's nothing he can't do. We're just in shorts and T-shirts now, though. Maybe it'll be a lot different when we put the pads on."
Wilcox, a transfer from Compton (Calif.) Community College, will compete with Corey Hall at nickelback.
"He's really shown some ability and maturity, from what I've heard," Stoops said. "We're encouraged about it.
Push to win backup QB spot heats up
With Arizona's starting offense all but spoken for, Wildcats coaches will turn their attention to reserves.
"And finding a backup quarterback is going to be huge for us," Stoops said.
Incoming freshman Matt Scott, redshirt freshman Bryson Beirne and sophomore Tyler Lyon will compete for reps when camp starts on Monday. Each brings a different set of skills and challenges: Scott is the fastest player of the three but has yet to take a snap at the college level. Beirne is built just like Willie Tuitama but lacks the starter's arm strength.
Lyon is taller — 6 feet 5 inches — but has yet to stand out in practices.
"We're going to look at all of them and see which guy is the best one," Stoops said.
Beat writer Ryan Finley counts down the days until the start of camp: go.azstarnet.com/finley
coming soon: Our UA and national college football season preview. Aug. 24