INTERESTING TO NOTE: Eight of the 10 players mentioned below all hail from the state of Arizona, including the standout running backs — NAU’s Zach Bauman (Chandler) and Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey (Tucson)
NAU’s Top Five Players by Ranking
1. Zach Bauman, RB, Sr., 5-10, 200, Chandler — A three-time All-Big Sky selection, Bauman is the only Lumberjack in school history to record three consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons. He is just 119 yards shy of breaking the NAU career rushing record, as he enters 2013 with a total of 3,676 rushing yards. Bauman also ranks third on the all-purpose yards career chart with 4,552.
2. Andy Wilder, P-PK, Sr., 6-3, 205, Scottsdale — The senior “Wild Man”, as he is called in Flagstaff, Wilder led the nation in yards per punt with a 46.3 average last year. He had a total of 25 punts go for 50 yards or longer. Wilder is also an efficient place-kicker, making game-winning kicks against UNLV and Northern Colorado last season.
3. Anders Battle, CB, 6-0, 185, Phoenix — He led NAU in 2012 with 64 tackles. The preseason FCS All-American selection started all 11 games last season and was credited with six pass breakups and a 26-yard interception return. The senior also registered a career-high 14 tackles against UC Davis to tie for fifth all-time in the NAU record books.
4. Lucky Dozier, S, 5-10, 185, Sr., Sacramento, Calif. — An All-American preseason pick in the FCS, he ranked fourth on the team in tackles with 57 and tied for the Big Sky lead with four interceptions last season. The All-Big Sky selection had two of his interceptions at Montana last season.
5. R.J. Rickert, TE, 6-3, 240, Jr., Gilbert — Caught 27 passes for 272 yards and three touchdowns last year. His 27.2 yards per reception shows he can be a load for tacklers after catching the ball.
Arizona’s Top Five Players by Ranking
1. Ka’Deem Carey, RB, 5-10, 207, Jr., Tucson — CBSSports.com NFL draft experts forecast Carey as a first- or second-round NFL draft pick come April. He was named to eight All-America teams, including Walter Camp, The Sporting News and the Associated Press, to earn consensus All-America honors from the NCAA after leading the nation in yards per game (148.4) and total yards (1,929). He may serve a game-time suspension for off-the-field transgressions following last season, but coach Rich Rodriguez has not made that official.
2. Marquis Flowers, OLB, 6-2, 230, Sr., Phoenix — Rated a potential fifth-round selection in the NFL draft, Flowers is a converted safety who might move back to that position at the next level. He was second on the team in tackles with 100 total (57 solo and 43 assisted) and led the Wildcats in tackles for lost yardage with 13 for 57 yards last season. He also had 5.5 sacks, forced three fumbles and recovered one, intercepted three passes and broke up three passes.
3. Shaquille Richardson, CB, 6-1, 184, Sr., Carson, Calif. — A potential late-round selection in next year’s NFL draft, Richardson had a team-high four interceptions last season and also broke up five passes. Two of the interceptions were against Oregon State, including one that was returned 28 yards for a touchdown.
4. Terrence Miller, 6-4, 233, Sr., Moreno Valley, Calif. — A big target who should get many passes thrown his way in either the slot or tight end position. Miller, a fifth-year player, was granted a medical hardship by the NCAA after playing only four games last year. He is one of eight UA players to already achieve a Bachelor’s degree.
5. Jake Fischer, 6-0, 221, Sr., Oro Valley, Ariz. — The senior middle linebacker returns as one of the top tacklers in the Pac-12 after leading the Wildcats with 119 tackles last season. He ranked third in the Pac-12 with 9.2 tackles per game. He had 6.5 tackles for loss, four fumble recoveries, three forced fumbles and three passes defended last year after missing the 2011 season with an ACL injury.
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.