Hansen Sunday Notebook: QB battle takes flight

Denker is favorite until Scroggins, Solomon catch up
2013-04-21T00:00:00Z 2013-04-21T21:48:10Z Hansen Sunday Notebook: QB battle takes flightGreg Hansen Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
April 21, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Since leaving Lakewood High School as one of the most highly rated SoCal quarterbacks of the last decade, UA junior Jesse Scroggins describes his journey as "humbling."

"Definitely humbling," he says. "The only thing I could do was go to junior college, stay humble and graduate. It was the only way I could get back to this level."

Much of the reason Scroggins had an unproductive season at El Camino College in the Los Angeles area, is because his right big toe was all messed up.

"It was broken and bent to the right, all the way to the third toe," he says. "And then I developed (a growth) on the side of the same foot. It just grew and grew."

Now, after surgery, Scroggins begins another daunting challenge, although not one that compares to sitting behind Matt Barkley at USC. Scroggins must outplay UA senior B.J. Denker, which isn't going to be easy.

No matter how strong Scroggins' throwing arm is - "I can zing it," he says, "I can really zing it," - Denker's knowledge of Rich Rodriguez's offense, and his ability to execute it with a minimum of mistakes, is almost sure to give Denker the starting assignment on opening night, Aug. 30 against NAU.

"B.J. is pretty sharp," says RichRod. "He's making the right decisions."

Scroggins passed for just 1,148 yards at El Camino, splitting time as the starting quarterback. Denker essentially played one game at Arizona in 2012, against woeful Colorado, when Matt Scott was injured.

Both will open fall camp ahead of freshman Anu Solomon, who, on paper, is the most highly ranked freshman QB ever recruited to Arizona.

I'd say it's about 99 percent certain that Denker will be the starter against NAU. The follow-up nonconference games, against weak Texas-San Antonio and hapless UNLV, could give RichRod a chance to experiment a bit with Scroggins and Solomon.

"I'm the smartest guy on the field; nobody knows this offense better than me," says Denker. "I'm the guy who can win games."

Scroggins, meanwhile, is at the beginning of his learning curve. He needs to learn the speed of Rodriguez's offense, understand instantly where four receivers will be on every play, develop accuracy and confidence, and become a team leader, all over the next four months.

Arizona's "real" opening game is Sept. 28 at Washington. By then, with Solomon having almost two full months of coaching and learning Arizona's system, anything goes at quarterback.

Short Stuff

Amphi grad to coach Dixie St; Yankees move up Refsnyder

Amphitheater grad Catherria Turner, who had the most productive single season in Tucson girls prep basketball history in 2001, became the head coach at Dixie State University on Saturday. Dixie State, in St. George, Utah, is a Division II school. Turner, who averaged 29 points, 11 rebounds and 10 steals at Amphi in 2001, had been head coach at Holy Names University near Oakland, Calif., for two seasons, going 25-32 as HNU became a D-II school. She earlier was an assistant coach at Maine and Portland, after a playing career at Oregon and Oklahoma State. … Arizona's 2012 College World Series MVP, outfielder Robert Refsnyder, got off to such a good start at Class A Charleston, S.C., that the New York Yankees promoted him to the Class A-Advanced Tampa (Fla.) Yankees last week. Refsnyder hit .370 with four doubles and seven steals in 54 at-bats in South Carolina. … College sports aren't always charter flights and four-star hotels. UA track and field coach Fred Harvey took 49 Wildcats to the Mt. SAC relays in Walnut, Calif., this weekend via bus. They stayed at a Hampton Inn. He said it was for team bonding as much as to save budget money. The team was expected to return to Tucson about 3 a.m. today. That'll beat the get-home-late trip by UA baseball coach Andy Lopez last week. UA's return trip from Washington State included a bus ride to Spokane, a flight to Seattle and another flight to Phoenix. The bus to transport the team from Sky Harbor Airport to Hi Corbett Field was two hours late. The Wildcats finally got in bed at 4:30 a.m., Monday.

More Short Stuff

Ex-Cat Pantoja good candidate for Pac-12 ref

When the Pac-12 gets around to a thorough review and investigation of its men's basketball officiating program, it would be wise to consider making Brenda Pantoja the league's first full-time female referee. Pantoja, a former Arizona point guard in the Joan Bonvicini days, worked the UConn-Louisville NCAA championship game two weeks ago, and also called four NBA regular-season games. She worked one men's college game this year: James Madison vs. San Diego. If she's not the best in the women's game, she's close. The Pac-12 can use her in men's games - now. … Here's a coincidence: Mortenson Construction, which is building Arizona's $74 million Lowell-Stevens Football Facility, also built Salt River Fields in Scottsdale and Camelback Ranch in Glendale, spring training facilities that took the Diamondbacks, White Sox and Rockies out of Tucson. At its height, Mortenson had 300 daily workers in the UA's North End Zone project. The company estimates that 88 percent of that workforce is from Southern Arizona. … Even though UA senior Davellyn Whyte was selected No. 16 overall in the WNBA draft last week, a second-round choice, it's not guaranteed money. Two years earlier, UA forward Ify Ibekwe was drafted No. 24 overall by Seattle. She played in three WNBA games and has since played in Spain and Belgium. … Good to see former UA left tackle Eben Britton get out of Jacksonville and onto an NFL team, the Chicago Bears, with a higher profile. Britton was benched by the Jags in midseason, 2012, after 30 career starts. … UA women's golf coach Laura Ianello takes the No. 6 Wildcats into the Pac-12 championships Monday in Los Angeles. The league is brutally difficult; eight of the NCAA's top 15-rated golfers are in the Pac-12, as is No. 1 USC and No. 8 UCLA. "The league is so good that Washington was ranked No. 1 in the fall and is now seeded about sixth in our league," said Ianello. "We're all freshmen and sophomores, but they are very talented freshmen and sophomores."

Byrne, Lopez main speakers for arthritis benefit luncheon

UA athletic director Greg Byrne, joined by Andy Lopez, will be a featured speaker Thursday at the "Double Play Luncheon" to benefit the Arizona Arthritis Center, at Fleming's Prime Steakhouse. The luncheon, which begins at 11:30 a.m., benefits arthritis research at the UA. Tickets and information: 626-3618. … Mountain View High grad Dan Moore, a three-year starting fullback at Montana, had a busy week. He visited his former prep coach, Andy Litten, and Litten's varsity football team at Marana High School, and also was flown to Indianapolis for a meeting with the Colts personnel staff. Moore is considered a possible late-round draft pick this week, or perhaps one of the prime free agents to be pursued. At 5 feet 11 inches and 240 pounds, clocked in 4.63 over 40 yards on Montana's Pro Day, Moore was also the Grizzlies' special teams captain last season. … After leaving Arizona's football staff to join Colorado in 2011, defensive line coach Mike Tuiasosopo remains unemployed. He coached at Arizona for seven years. … Solomon Hill wasn't at McKale Center last week to receive the Sapphire Award, emblematic of the UA's top male senior athlete of 2012-13. Hill has already returned to Los Angeles to prepare for NBA draft workouts. What impressed me most about the UA's annual CATS Awards Banquet was that 224 of about 470 athletes posted GPA's of 3.0 or better this academic year. Eric Hansen's swimming program dominated the awards: Margo Geer, Bonnie Brandon and Kevin Cordes were chosen as athlete-of-the-year for their various classes; all had 3.0 GPAs or better.

Miller gets back to recruiting, hiring chores

After last week's theatrics with Grant Jerrett, Sean Miller resumed the general manager/roster management part of his job. He flew to Los Angeles to evaluate younger players at the Nike EYBL showcase with assistant coach Book Richardson. Miller is already working on the classes of 2015 and 2016. … In his pursuit of an assistant coach to replace Ball State head coach James Whitford, it's inevitable that Miller will weigh the option of bringing ex-Drake head coach Mark Phelps to Tucson. Miller and Phelps coached together on Herb Sendek's staff at North Carolina State from 1996 to 2006; Phelps coached/recruited in the Pac-12 as an Arizona State assistant in 2006-08. Drake fired Phelps last month. How's this for a connection: Phelps' top Drake assistant, ex-Florida standout Brett Nelson, has since joined Whitford's staff at Ball State. … Cholla grad Ajak Magot became the latest player to leave Cochise College basketball coach Jerry Carrillo's club for Division I. Magot, a 6-11 defensive force who played with UA junior Matt Korcheck at Cochise, signed with Idaho State last week. He joins an ISU team that already includes junior starting forward Andre Hatchett of Santa Rita High School. … I suspect Hatchett's teammate on Santa Rita's 2010 state championship team, Terrell Stoglin, won't be playing for Ilysiakos Athens in the Greek league much longer. After losing 86-62 to Ikaros on Saturday, Stoglin tweeted, "Teams here are COACHED to make adjustments. Tell me why we haven't since last month." Stoglin earlier tweeted: "Frustrated to the max." Stoglin leads all scorers in Greece, 22.1 per game, but his team is 7-16.

My Two Cents

Of two paths taken, Frye's is more rewarding than Jerrett's

In a Twitter message last week, Channing Frye said he couldn't understand the "uproar" over Grant Jerrett's decision to leave school, but also said he enjoyed his term at Arizona so much he would've come back for another year, if possible.

As it was, Frye spent four seasons playing basketball for Arizona, becoming a lottery pick (No. 8 overall) in 2005, a two-time all-conference choice who eschewed the 2004 draft, where at the time he was a likely first-round pick.

Late in Frye's senior season, February '05, I followed him on campus one morning as a film crew from ESPN charted a "day in the life of Channing Frye." He loved it. He was comfortable in public, all smiles, a young man enjoying life.

Different folks, different strokes, huh?

Frye didn't rush the process. He played seven NBA seasons, earning an estimated $23 million, before a heart problem sidelined him this year. He is owed an additional $13 million, even if he is unable to play.

A "day in the life of Grant Jerrett" video these days wouldn't be anywhere near as much fun.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Activate

Latest Video

More videos

Rich Rod and players discuss their tough win

Rich Rodriguez, Austin Hill, Scooby Wright, Cayleb Jones on tonight's game


Follow the Arizona Daily Star

Deals, offers & events

View more...