The Star is counting down the 11 most valuable Wildcats on the Arizona football team entering the 2019 season. Here’s the latest installment.
No. 8: OL Cody Creason
Height/weight/year: 6-4, 295, redshirt senior
Key 2018 stats: N/A
Comment: Against all odds, the UA offensive line turned out to be a team strength last season. It should be again this year. Creason is the veteran leader of that unit.
Arizona has eight redshirt seniors on its roster. Creason is the lone offensive lineman among them. He has played multiple positions for multiple coaches and has thrived regardless of the circumstances.
Creason’s reliability, experience and versatility are what make him one of the Wildcats’ most valuable assets. You could plug him in at any of four offensive line positions – center being the exception, although he probably could wing it – and not have to worry about him missing an assignment or whiffing on a block.
Creason has appeared in 37 games in his UA career, making 19 starts. Ten of those starts have come at left guard, his primary position last season. The other nine have come at right tackle.
With Kyle DeVan taking over the line and some new personnel arriving, roles shifted in the spring. Creason spent most of his time playing right guard. Since left guard was a new experience for him – he hadn’t played inside previously – right guard surely was too. He just went about his business as if he’d been playing there his whole life.
Although the Wildcats have the makings of an impressive starting unit, the depth still isn’t where Kevin Sumlin would like it to be. Having someone like Creason who could kick outside or flip to the other side of the line at a moment’s notice gives Arizona an insurance policy of sorts.
Based on the way they lined up in spring, center Josh McCauley is the only blocker slated to play the same position as a year ago. Creason, as mentioned, shifted from the left side to the right. Rising sophomore Donovan Laie went the other way, moving to left tackle after primarily playing right tackle as a freshman. The other projected starters are junior-college transfers Josh Donovan (left guard) and Paiton Fears (right tackle). It’s nice to have a senior who’s seen it all to help bring the group together.
Creason is playing for his third line coach in as many years – four if you include the brief tenure of Garin Justice, who was part of the UA staff for about a month before Rich Rodriguez was fired. Creason came to Arizona to play for Jim Michalczik, made the move to guard under Joe Gilbert and will finish his college career under DeVan, who has drawn rave reviews so far. Whether in the trenches or in media interviews, Creason never has seemed fazed by any of it.
The work of Creason and his linemates is best illustrated by Arizona’s rushing totals. The Wildcats led the Pac-12 in yards per game (202.4) and average per carry (4.9) last season, despite a plethora of injuries and a dearth of experience up front. They’ve held those belts for three straight years. Arizona also has ranked in the top 35 nationally in sacks allowed per game each of the past two seasons.
No one personifies the line’s blue-collar ethos more than Creason. There’s nothing flashy about him. He just gets the job done, no matter the assignment.
MOST VALUABLE WILDCATS OF 2019