Jeff Worthy had a dinner reservation for four earlier this week that would make any UA football fan jealous.
Worthy, a 6-foot-4-inch, 285-pound junior college defensive lineman, who is set to sign with Arizona later this month, hosted UA coach Rich Rodriguez, defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel and quarterbacks coach Rod Smith.
The four were joined by Worthy’s grandparents and mom. The main conversation topics — football and redemption — were predictable.
“Coach Rod was saying he likes players that are in my situation because we have a chip on our shoulder and we’re hungry to prove ourselves,” Worthy said.
Worthy, a three-star prospect out of high school in La Habra, Calif., originally signed with Boise State and spent two seasons with the Broncos but never played in a game.
He redshirted in 2011 and then was suspended for the majority of the 2012 season because he violated team rules. In February, he was dismissed from the Broncos and played junior college ball this past season at Santa Ana (Calif.) College.
Worthy committed to the UA in August and is expected to sign on Dec. 18. He will enroll in school in January.
“I’m going to do it the right way this time,” said Worthy, who had 43 tackles and 4ƒ sacks in eight games for Santa Ana this season. “I only have two years to play, and it’s important to me to go out to Arizona and give the best that I got. I want to finish strong.”
Worthy — who had offers from UCLA, ASU, Oregon State and Nebraska out of high school — will be counted on to contribute right away. The UA will lose two of its three starting linemen to graduation after its bowl game as well as Justin Washington, who saw a lot of time as a backup.
The UA is expected to have five other junior college players sign Dec. 18. High school running back Jonathan Haden, out of Washington D.C., is also set to enroll in January and be with the team for spring drills.
Here’s a closer look at the other junior college players who are expected to arrive on campus next month.
Junior college: Iowa Western Community College
Other schools that were interested: North Carolina State, Illinois and Southern Mississippi.
The lowdown: Byrd committed to the UA in August but has backed off his pledge a bit in recent weeks. He visited N.C. State last month and is giving the Wolfpack a serious look. The safety, who began his college career at TCU, had a productive season at Iowa Western with 44 tackles and two picks that opened some eyes. Rodriguez also visited Byrd this week and is hopeful to keep him in the fold. If he makes it to Tucson, Byrd would compete for immediate playing time in the UA’s secondary even with all three starting safeties slated to return.
Position: Defensive end
Junior college: Glendale Community College
Other schools that were interested: Hawaii, New Mexico and Wyoming.
The lowdown: Cody missed the season with a torn meniscus but is expected to be healthy for next season. Listed at 6-3, 265, Cody will likely play exclusively defensive end and should help with the pass rush. The Las Vegas native went to the same junior college that produced starting center Steven Gurrola. Cody will have three years to play three seasons.
Junior college: Scottsdale Community College
Other schools that were interested: Baylor, Iowa State and Kansas State.
The lowdown: Glover is a bigger, physical corner, who is listed at 6-2, 200. The Wildcats lose starter Shaq Richardson and don’t have a lot of depth at the position. Glover will get a head start on the UA’s high school commitments and will have a chance to win a job in spring drills. Glover had 42 tackles, three interceptions and one forced fumble this season for Scottsdale.
Junior college: Chaffey College in California
Other schools that were interested: Cal, Florida Atlantic and San Diego State
The lowdown: Lawrence was also visited by Rodriguez this week and is viewed by the coaching staff as an important piece to this year’s class. With Chris Putton graduating, there is one guard spot that will be open, and Lawrence will compete for that spot in the spring. At 6-4, 290, Lawrence has good size and was one of the first players to commit to the UA.
Position: Outside linebacker
Junior college: Scottsdale Community College
Other schools that were interested: Kansas State, Miami, Cincinnati and Tennessee.
The lowdown: Of all the juco players set to sign, Smothers may have the biggest impact the fastest. The linebacker has plus-size at 6-2, 240 and runs a 4.7-second 40-yard dash. He could fill the void that will be left by Marquis Flowers and bring some athleticism to a defense that needs it. Smothers had 55 tackles and seven sacks in 10 games this season.
- Frank Davis
- , a former UA football strength and conditioning assistant coach, who was facing charges of suspicion of assault stemming from an altercation with a student manager, had the charges dismissed with prejudice. Davis was placed on paid leave after the incident and didn’t have his contract renewed.