Don’t tell Anu Solomon that spring practice isn’t important. Or that the Arizona Wildcats’ quarterback competition isn’t legitimate.
Solomon is taking both very seriously — to the point that he offered a harsh self-evaluation Wednesday.
Solomon spoke to the media for the first time in weeks after missing time because of a hamstring injury. He said he hadn’t been himself before the injury, which occurred two days before Arizona’s open scrimmage March 4. He went so far as to say he was “complacent.”
“I just wasn’t making the right reads, wasn’t running well,” Solomon said. “It’s just a humbling experience for me. I’ve got to just tell myself not to do that again.”
Solomon said he wasn’t as focused as he needed to be, something he has tried to rectify since returning to the field this week for Arizona’s final three spring practices.
“I’ve got to realize when I step on this field, it’s all about Arizona football,” Solomon said. “I can’t let everything else outside of the field — school, life, anything — get in my head.
“I’ve got to concentrate on that. I caught myself on it. God humbled me. It’s definitely a learning experience.”
Solomon’s injury — which he described as “just a little boo-boo” — created playing time for backups Brandon Dawkins and Khalil Tate.
Coach Rich Rodriguez wants Dawkins to push Solomon, who has thrown 48 touchdown passes in two seasons as a starter but struggled at times last year.
Dawkins has closed the gap, at the very least, and it’s having the desired effect on Solomon; he’s more motivated. Veteran guard Jacob Alsadek has noticed.
“He wants to be really good,” Alsadek said. “As a quarterback that’s good to (know), because he’s the leader of the offense. He wants to be the best that he can be.
“If he misses a throw, he’s (angry). But in a game, he doesn’t show it to us. That’s really a sign of a good leader.”
Pro day coming
Arizona’s pro day is Thursday. Seventeen players are scheduled to participate, and every NFL team is expected to attend.
Linebacker Scooby Wright again has something to prove after a lackluster performance at the scouting combine last month. But Rodriguez said it’s a mistake to use those drills to judge Wright.
“He may not win the combine, test results, whatever that may be, but you watch him on film, and he’s a great football player,” Rodriguez said. “They (NFL teams) see that, too. Their top evaluating (tool), I’m sure, just likes ours, is the film.”
Teams don’t have tape of Jerrard Randall playing wide receiver. That’s where the former quarterback will work out as he transitions to a new position and tries to make an impression.
“He’ll run well, and he’s got great ball skills,” Rodriguez said. “He’s kind of a wild card in this whole thing. He may not get drafted, but I think somebody’s going to give him an opportunity.”
- Rodriguez said he sees both of Arizona’s top running backs, Nick Wilson and Orlando Bradford, as “starters” who are “good enough to win with.” Both have worked with the first team this spring.
- Echoing special-teams coach Charlie Ragle, Rodriguez would prefer that Josh Pollack not serve as the Wildcats’ kicker, punter and kickoff guy. Rodriguez said Arizona still could add 1-2 new specialists before training camp.
- Rodriguez said he has “concerns” about Arizona’s offensive line depth because several players have missed time in spring with injuries.
- Defensive coordinator Marcel Yates addressed the entire defense during the post-practice period when players usually break into position groups.
- Rodriguez reiterated the importance of getting recruits on campus. “Every recruit we’ve had that’s been around practice … has fallen in love with our program,” he said. Speaking generally, Rodriguez said it’s “frustrating” that early commits flirt with other schools and oftentimes change their minds. Arizona recently lost quarterback Braxton Burmeister, continuing a trend that affects programs across the nation. Rodriguez praised his players’ passion for hosting recruits and their ability to sell them on the university. “Some of our players have been undefeated hosting,” he said.