The Arizona football team begins its 2013 season against Northern Arizona at Arizona Stadium on Aug. 30, which is 94 days away. From now until then, this Web site will count down the days with facts about the Wildcats, their players, coaching staff and opponents. This is not a ranking, only a list of 100 facts and observances related to the 2013 Arizona football team and coach Rich Rodriguez.
The Wildcats have featured 14 different quarterbacks who led them in passing yardage since they joined the Pac-10 in 1978, and not one played in the junior college ranks before their Arizona career.
Two transfers from other programs — Dan White from Penn State and Nick Foles from Michigan State — have led the Wildcats in passing. The other 12 were from high school, including only one from Tucson — Amphi’s Jim Krohn in 1978 and 1979.
B.J. Denker and Jesse Scroggins are two former JC players who will compete to be the starting quarterback in the fall with the hopes of leading the UA in passing yardage this season. Their primary competition will come from Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman High School standout Anu Solomon.
Denker, who started in place of the injured Matt Scott last year against Colorado, played for Cerritos (Calif.) Junior College before coming to Arizona. He played in six games last year for the UA and threw for 259 yards on 25-of-37 passing with three touchdowns. He emerged from spring drills as the No. 1 quarterback, but the competition figures to be wide open in the fall with the inclusion of Solomon.
Scroggins started his career at USC in 2010 but was forced out of the Trojans’ program a season later because of academics and Lane Kiffin’s dwindling number of scholarships from NCAA violations. He played at El Camino (Calif.) Community College before attending the UA in the spring.
My research of UA quarterbacks recruited out of high school — who were passing leaders for the Wildcats in a season — dates back to Brian Linstrom in 1968. I will call upon University of Arizona historians to see if anybody before Linstrom went to junior college before becoming the UA’s top quarterback.
Therefore, if Denker or Scroggins lead the Wildcats in passing yardage this season, they would become the first JC transfer to do so in at least 45 years. The possibility might be fleeting because of the potential of Solomon, who passed for 10,112 yards and 138 touchdowns with only 17 interceptions throughout his Bishop Gorman career.
Although Denker has the most experience with the Wildcats (limited, at that), and Scroggins has the strongest arm, Solomon is rated by SportsIllustrated.com as the top incoming high school quarterback who will make an instant impact in college.
Denker and Scroggins are taking unlikely paths to what they hope is a potential professional career in their future. Only a handful of former junior college quarterbacks have gone on to start in the NFL in recent years including Aaron Rodgers, Tim Rattay and Jeff Garcia.
Rattay played for Scottsdale Community College in 1996 before attending Louisiana Tech. The Wildcats missed on Rattay, who was not recruited by any major-college program. Rattay’s brother, John, lettered at Arizona in 2000 after transferring from Tennessee. He left the UA for Pasadena City College and returned to the Wildcats as a walk-on in 2002 but never played.
The best No. 94 to play for the Wildcats? Anthony Gimino of TucsonCitizen.com picks Alabama transfer Anthony Smith, who in his only season with the Wildcats in 1989 was a first-team All-Pac-10 player and a first-round NFL draft choice by the Raiders. Life has been turbulent for Smith to say the least as he was ordered last October to stand trial for four murders in Southern California.
WILDABOUTAZCATS.net publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes blogs for Lindy’s College Sports, TucsonCitizen.com and Sports Illustrated-sponsored site ZonaZealots.com.