Arizona Football

Centennial of 1914 “They fought like Wildcats” team among things to anticipate in 2014

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Not that anyone is counting … OK maybe we are … but the Arizona Wildcats will kick off their 2014 football season against UNLV in only 240 days. That’s roughly two-thirds of a year from now.


— Notre Dame has the Four Horsemen. Texas A&M has the “12th Man”. Florida State has the war chant. Arizona has … John Button Salmon’s “Bear Down” motto. The story behind why Arizona became known as Wildcats is also rich with tradition. The 1914 team is responsible for Arizona changing its name to “Wildcats” instead of “Varsity”. On Nov. 7, 1914, Los Angeles Times correspondent Bill Henry wrote of Arizona in its 14-0 loss at Occidental: “The Arizona men showed the fight of wildcats and displayed before the public gaze a couple of little shrimps who defied all attempts of the Tigers to stop them.”

— “A” Mountain’s 100th anniversary is also this year because of a member of the 1914 team. After a 7-6 victory over Pomona College on Thanksgiving Day, Albert Condron, also a civil engineering student, suggested to one of his professors that a class assignment be made to survey Sentinel Peak for the location of an “A”.

— Fast forward one hundred years and Arizona’s team can again make history if prolific rusher Ka’Deem Carey returns for his senior season. Carey has a school-record 4,232 yards rushing in less than three full seasons. That places him seventh in Pac-12 history, only 68 yards from Stanford’s Stepfan Taylor for sixth-place. He is 2,013 yards shy of the Pac-12 record held by USC’s Charles White (6,245 from 1976-79).

— Carey has already passed NFL rushing greats Adrian Peterson (4,041 at Oklahoma) and Emmitt Smith (3,928 at Florida) and is 1,070 yards from reaching the No. 10 spot on the NCAA career rushing list (5,302, Damion Fletcher, Southern Miss). If he averages 157.5 yards a game next season he could catch Ricky Williams’ 6,279 yards rushing, which ranks No. 3 all-time. The Heisman would certainly be his if that happens.


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— If Carey leaves for the NFL then what? Arizona has three running backs returning who could challenge for most carries. They are sophomore Jared Baker and freshmen Pierre Cormier and Zach Green. Baker tore his ACL against ASU and likely will be out into the 2014 season. Cormier (5’8″ and 188 pounds) does not have the size of Carey (5’10 and 207) but he has speed and is elusive. Green (5’10” and 220) is a bigger back that can be used in short-yardage situations.

True freshman Nick Wilson could challenge for carries next season if Ka'Deem Carey turns pro

True freshman Nick Wilson could challenge for carries next season if Ka’Deem Carey turns pro

— The darkhorse as Carey’s replacement next year if Carey leaves for the NFL could be true freshman Nick Wilson (5’11” and 196) of Fresno (Calif.) Central East High School. ranks him as the No. 24 running back in the Class of 2014. He missed most of Central East’s first three games with a shoulder injury but was strong upon his return, gaining 1,015 yards with 10 touchdowns on 118 carries. Wilson’s coach Justin Garza told the Fresno Bee: “”He’s a very physical and aggressive runner. We all compare him to (Minnesota Vikings running back) Adrian Peterson. That’s who he looks like with his body and running style. He’s so solid, and running track and field helps.”

— If Carey leaves, the quarterback-running back exchange for Arizona will be entirely new next season. B.J. Denker has exhausted his eligibility. For the first time in the history of Arizona’s program, the Wildcats will start four different quarterbacks in consecutive years (Nick Foles in 2011, Matt Scott in 2012, Denker in 2013 and the 2014 starter). Who is the 2014 starter? We should get a good read during spring practice. Rich Rodriguez’s options: Jesse Scroggins (senior in 2014), Connor Brewer (redshirt sophomore, Texas transfer), Anu Solomon (redshirt freshman), Khari McGee (redshirt freshman), Nick Isham (walk-on junior), Brandon Dawkins (freshman) and Jerrard Randall (junior, LSU transfer). Only Dawkins will not compete in the spring because he will be attending Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian High School.

— The receiver position will go from one of the weakest to one of the strongest with the return of senior Austin Hill from a knee injury. Hill has an NFL future as a Biletnikoff Award candidate semifinalist in 2012. The Wildcats also return three freshmen who played substantial roles by the end of the season: Nate Phillips, Trey Griffey and Samajie Grant. All have big-play potential. The Wildcats also welcome Texas transfer Cayleb Jones, who played in 11 games with the Longhorns as a true freshman in 2012. Tight end recruit Trevor Wood is rated No. 14 at his position by and is drawing parallels to Rob Gronkowski early in his development.

— Whoever is quarterback, he will have plenty of options of where to throw the ball and most of the offensive line back to block for him. Chris Putton, a right guard, was the lone senior starter on the line this season.

— Defensively, the Wildcats lose five senior starters but the six starters returning are experienced. They include five seniors — defensive end Reggie Gilbert, cornerback Jonathan McKnight and safeties Tra’Mayne Bondurant, Jared Tevis and Jourdon Grandon. The other returning starter is sophomore-to-be linebacker Scooby Wright, who can emerge as one of the school’s best to play at that position, which is means a whole lot considering the history of Arizona linebackers. Keoni Bush-Loo, who had an impressive 12-yard sack against Boston College quarterback Chase Rettig Tuesday, will challenge for playing time at linebacker as a junior. Look for Los Angeles Salesian High School teammates Marquis Ware and Jamardre Cobb to also play significant roles at linebacker.

— The defensive line, the two spots adjacent to Gilbert, will be the most significant question because of inexperience. Rodriguez and his staff addressed that concern by signing two JC transfers — defensive end Jerod Cody and tackle Jeff Worthy — who are attending classes and will participate in spring drills.


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[/ezcol_1half_end] publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes articles for Bleacher Report, Lindy’s College Sports and


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