The Arizona football team begins its 2013 season against Northern Arizona at Arizona Stadium on Aug. 30, which is 54 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 Paul Hornung Award watch list was released this week, and none of the Arizona Wildcats were mentioned. The award, given to the nation’s most versatile athlete, is only in its fourth year of existence.
If it was instituted in 1954 or 1999, all-purpose threats Art Luppino and Dennis Northcutt, respectively, would certainly have been finalists.
Chuck Levy, a quarterback, running back and return specialist for the Wildcats when the Desert Swarm defense hogged the headlines in the early 1990s, was an All-Pac-10 all-purpose selection in 1991 and 1993.
Four Arizona players have won national awards in the history of the program, and one of them — defensive tackle/nose guard Rob Waldrop — took home three awards in 1993. Waldrop won the Chuck Bednarik Award (Defensive Player of the Year), Bronko Nagurski Award (Defensive Player of the Year) and Outland Trophy (Outstanding Interior Lineman).
Two Wildcats have won the Jim Thorpe Award, given to the nation’s most outstanding defensive back. Darryll Lewis won the award in 1990 and Antoine Cason in 2007.
Steve McLaughlin is the other Arizona player to win a national award. He won the Lou Groza Award for the top place-kicker in 1994.
College Football hall of Fame inductees Ricky Hunley, Chuck Cecil and Tedy Bruschi are noticeably missing when it comes to national player-of-the-year awards.
Hunley’s eligibility was exhausted before the Dick Butkus Award — given to the nation’s top linebacker — was instituted in 1985.
Cecil had the misfortune his senior year (1987) of going against the likes of cornerback Deion Sanders of Florida State, free safety Bennie Blades of Miami and free safety Rickey Dixon of Oklahoma for the Jim Thorpe Award. Blades and Dixon were named co-winners that season.
In Bruschi’s senior season of 1995, linebaqcker Pat Fitzgerald of Northwestern won the Chuck Bednarik Award and Bronko Nagurski Award. Fitzgerald is in his eighth season as Northwestern’s head coach.
The Ted Hendricks Award, given to the nation’s top defensive end, was not instituted during Bruschi’s career. It started in 2002.
The Rimington Trophy, awarded to the nation’s top center starting in 2000, was not around when Arizona’s Joe Tofflemire was a three-time All-Pac-10 selection from 1986-1988.
Arizona can add to its hardware this year if junior running back Ka’Deem Carey has a similar season as last year when he led the nation in rushing yardage. Carey should be a finalist for the Doak Walker Award given to the nation’s top running back. Some diehards believe Carey also has a chance at the Heisman. The Wildcats must become one of the nation’s elite teams for that to happen.
Carey also led the UA in all-purpose yards last season. coming one yard shy of Northcutt’s record of 2,249 yards in 1999. Most of Carey’s production was on the ground (1,929 yards) with 303 yards receiving. He is the UA’s leading returning receiver with Dan Buckner exhausting his eligibility and Austin Hill out while mending an ACL tear.
Don’t expect Carey to be an all-purpose threat, however. He returned one kickoff for 16 yards last season. His rushing yards are what Rich Rodriguez will count on the most in 2013.
Arizona’s best all-purpose threat could become senior running back Daniel Jenkins, who decided to stay with the Wildcats after announcing he would transfer to Washington State. Jenkins can run, receive and return kicks. He rushed for 293 yards last year and led the Wildcats with 329 yards in kickoff returns.
He should have much more than the 30 yards receiving he posted last year with the lack of depth and experience at the receiver positions.
The best No. 54 to wear the Arizona jersey, according to TucsonCitizen.com’s Anthony Gimino is Donnie Salum, a walk-on who became one of the UA’s top linebackers. As a successful sports equipment businessman, he donated close to $800,000 worth of sports equipment to Arizona. Salum was recently diagnosed with a rare bone tumor at the base of his skull, touching his brain stem. Former UA coach Dick Tomey and Salum’s teammates have come to his aid. For more information on how you can help Salum and his family in his time of need, please visit BearDownDonnie.com.
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.