Arizona football: 5 of 1st 8 on road for Cats in 2013

Former UA offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes recently took over as coach at Cal. The Wildcats will face the Golden Bears on Nov. 2.


A full-time assistant coach at age 25, Ryan Walters is both a footnote in Arizona Wildcats history and a punch line to the kind of schtick he long ago got tired of hearing.

The UA's secondary coach is so young …

How young is he?

Walters is so young that he has a killer scouting report on Colorado heading into Saturday's game against the Buffaloes in Boulder, Colo.

Not because he has watched hours of game film - although he has. It's because Walters played at CU alongside quarterback Tyler Hansen, tailback Rodney Stewart and a handful of other Buffaloes stars just a few short years ago. In fact, he started 33 games at Colorado from 2004 to 2008.

Walters came to Arizona as a graduate assistant in 2010, and was promoted to secondary coach last spring when Greg Brown left to become the defensive coordinator at - where else? - Colorado, and Duane Akina joined, then left, the Wildcats' coaching staff.

Walters, who will turn 26 on Jan. 21, remains the youngest full-time coach in modern UA football history and is the second-youngest assistant in the Pac-12. Utah quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson, 24, is a year younger.

Walters admitted that this weekend's trip to Colorado will be "weird," but knows exactly where his loyalties lie.

"I'm not conflicted at all. I'm going to try to go out there and get the win," he said. "I know those guys pretty well. Hopefully, that translates to good schemes on our end."

The Star talked to Arizona's oh-so-young assistant about his weekend trip, Colorado's elevation and running with Ralphie.

Here's what he said:

On Boulder, and game day at Folsom Field: "I had a great time there. The atmosphere is awesome. It's a great stage to play the game: the mountains in the background, the whole vibe, Ralphie (the buffalo) running out. There's good tradition there."

On how CU has changed over the years: "Obviously, that program's been struggling as of late. It's a little different than it was in the '90s, to say the least. So in that aspect, it's different. But the stage and the venue are awesome, and the crowd's right on top of you on the short sidelines. It's a scenic place, a beautiful campus with beautiful scenery."

On the elevation at Folsom Field, the third-highest stadium in major college football: "Everybody talks about it when they go there, but once the whistle blows, nobody is thinking about whether or not they can breathe. It's, 'Where do I line up? Who do I tackle?' Those things."

On whether the elevation affects opponents, or if it's overrated: "If you're playing a sport like basketball, you might be a little more affected because you're constantly on the move. In football, you get so many breaks between plays. … The only time you can really tell is when you get a long series or something like that. You just gotta go play, man. It's not as hyped up as you would think; just go out and play."

On Ralphie, the charging buffalo who leads CU's team onto the field: "It's up there, man. That's a special deal, to have a mascot that's that big being able to contain and run him on the field. It's good for the fans, it's good for the atmosphere, and I think it's good for college football."

Up next

• What: Arizona at Colorado

• When: 12:30 p.m. Saturday

• TV: Fox College Sports (check your channel lineup for availability)

• Radio: 1290-AM, 107.5-FM