Quick hitters from Arizona’s final spring practice Friday afternoon and media availability afterward:

  • Improving the Wildcats’ depth – especially on defense – is chief among Rich Rodriguez's goals entering the offseason. Regarding the defensive depth specifically, Rodriguez said: "We’ve got to get more people, and I’m not convinced right now that we’ve got a lot of people we can win with." In other words, the incoming freshmen need to be ready to contribute.
  • I asked Rodriguez which positions he feels best about. He cited known quantities at slot receiver (Samajie Grant, Nate Phillips), defensive line (Sani Fuimaono, Parker Zellers) and offensive line (Jacob Alsadek, Layth Friekh). He also likes the talent at running back (Nick Wilson, Orlando Bradford) and quarterback (Anu Solomon, Brandon Dawkins).
  • Rodriguez said he wants his quarterbacks to understand the offense more in-depth – the "whys" and not just the "hows" and "whats."
  • Rodriguez said running back Jared Baker ran at least a 4.4 in the 40 at pro day Thursday. Baker was the fastest among the UA players who ran. That performance could get Baker, who led the Wildcats in rushing last season, into an NFL camp.
  • Rodriguez said having another recruiting specialist – new recruiting director Chris Singletary – has enabled Arizona to get more recruits on campus for unofficial visits. “Unofficial visits are the key,” Rodriguez said. “Official visits are way overrated nowadays because they’ve already decided." Arizona was expected to have 10-12 recruits on campus this week.
  • Arizona will begin a five-week weightlifting cycle next week, take time off in May, then resume lifting for 7-8 weeks in summer, Rodriguez said.
  • Rodriguez clarified his stance regarding spring: He's pro-spring practice, anti-spring game. He’s a big believer in using the 15 practices to improve fundamentals.
  • Rodriguez made a joke about not breaking NCAA rules regarding "student-athlete welfare" and sticking to the 20-hour weekly limit. That was an obvious reference to his time at Michigan, where he and his staff got into trouble for exceeding it.
  • Arizona scrimmaged for 25 minutes, up from the usual 15. “Some of it was good,” Rodriguez said. “Some of it was like a pillow fight." He wants to see more physical play come August.
  • Rodriguez let the upperclassmen leave the field earlier than the rest of the team to shower and grab food from the post-practice pizza buffet.


Michael is an award-winning journalist who has been covering sports professionally since the early '90s. He started at the Star in 2015 after spending 15 years at The Orange County Register. Michael is a graduate of Northwestern University.