Minutes after he helped lead the Arizona Wildcats to a win in the AdvoCare V100 Bowl, B.J. Denker made a declaration.
“I’m not done playing football,” the quarterback said. “I can’t stop. I’ll go anywhere to play.”
He wasn’t kidding.
Denker recently relocated to Basel, Switzerland, and signed with the Basel Gladiators of the European Football League and the Swiss A League.
The Gladiators reached out to Denker after their starting quarterback went down with a torn ACL in May. Denker signed May 27 and immediately moved to Switzerland.
The lefty quarterback has already started two games for the Gladiators. Denker has thrown for 391 yards and seven touchdowns and rushed for 183 yards and five scores in a pair of wins.
The Gladiators have qualified for the playoffs with two regular-season games left.
Denker’s deal came together quickly.
Denker said he was driving back to California from Tucson with his girlfriend when he got a call from a former junior college teammate who informed him of a website where players could submit their information for European coaches.
One day after Denker visited the site, the Gladiators coaches called him and were eager to get him to Basel.
“I figured it would be a free way to travel, see the world and play a little football and have some fun, all expenses paid,” Denker said in an email. “It’s been fun so far. We won both games and I’ve scored a bunch of touchdowns. So I can’t complain.”
Denker started all 13 games for the Wildcats last season as a senior and threw for 2,516 yards and 16 touchdowns. He added 949 rushing yards and 13 more scores.
The quarterback was hoping to latch on with an NFL team for a rookie mini-camp tryout, but that call never came following the NFL draft. Instead, Denker is now with the Gladiators, trying to help them get to the Swiss Bowl on July 12.
The quarterback would still like to coach once he’s finally done playing. He’ll start looking at his next move once he returns from Switzerland next month.
Freshmen on campus
The first batch of incoming freshmen arrived at the UA on Sunday night for a team meeting and to move into their summer living quarters.
The players will begin workouts and summer classes today.
The next wave of freshmen — several are still taking high school classes — will arrive on June 22. Included in the group that arrived Sunday were quarterback Brandon Dawkins, defensive lineman Marcus Griffin, offensive linemen Jordan Poland, Layth Friekh and Levi Walton, wide receivers Cameron Denson and Kaelin Deboskie, tight end Trevor Wood and others.
Some of the players sent out messages on Twitter, confirming their arrival in Tucson. Dawkins tweeted: “officially in Arizona. #BearDown.” Wood, a Scottsdale Chaparral High School product, left Sunday morning and also tweeted: “To all my friends/family/future teammates…I am officially off to UA! Appreciate all the support throughout the years. BEARDOWN.”
Walton, a native of North Fort Myers, Florida, drove 41 hours with his parents to get to Tucson. Their route took them through Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and New Mexico before they arrived in Arizona.
Rich Rodriguez and his staff offered scholarships to a couple of local standouts this weekend during the UA’s one-day prospect camp.
Rodriguez offered a scholarship to defensive back Demetrius Flannigan of Tucson High, a 2015 recruit. The corner was a first-team All-Southern Arizona selection by the Daily Star in the fall and had five pass breakups. The Arizona offer was Flannigan’s first. Arizona State, Boise State, Colorado and others are also expressing interest.
The UA also made an offer to Salpointe Catholic High School defensive lineman Justin Holt, a 2016 recruit. Holt, the son of former UA player Julius Holt, played in all 14 games for Salpointe last season and had 46 tackles.
Holt, who is preparing for his junior season, is listed at 6 feet 2 inches and 285 pounds. Like Flannigan, the Arizona offer was Holt’s first.
Pac-12 TV change
The Pac-12 announced Sunday that it has created an 11 a.m., PST television window for the upcoming football season. It’s an attempt to reduce the number of night games across the league.
Pac-12 Networks will broadcast a game in that time slot in select weeks in place of an evening matchup. The number of morning games will be determined as the season and television picks progress.
“This is a positive step for Pac-12 fans across the conference,” Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said in a release. “There has been an adjustment over the last two years with our new television agreement, and we believe fans — both in our stadiums and in the television audience — will benefit.”
- A couple of UA players have switched jersey numbers for the upcoming season. Safety
- Tellas Jones
- has gone from No. 14 to No. 1. Linebacker
- Keoni Bush-Loo
- has switched from No. 3 to No. 44.