Arizona Football

Arizona Wildcats football: Solomon vying to become first freshman QB to start opener for UA in Pac-10/12 era



Arizona’s quarterback Anu Solomon appears to be putting himself in position to become the first freshman (he redshirted last year) to start a season-opener for Arizona since the Wildcats joined the Pac-10 in 1978.

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Can Anu Solomon be the first freshman to start in the opener for Arizona in the program's Pac-10/12 era?

Can Anu Solomon be the first freshman to start for Arizona in the program’s Pac-10/12 era?

Redshirt freshman quarterback Anu Solomon will make history if he starts next Friday against UNLV in the Arizona Wildcats’ season opener at Arizona Stadium.

The Wildcats have not featured either a true freshman or redshirt freshman as the season-opening starter in the time in which they have played in the Pac-10/12, starting in 1978.

Eleven sophomores were the opening-game starters, including a four-year consecutive stretch in the John Mackovic/Mike Stoops eras from 2003 to 2006 (Nic Costa, Kris Heavner, Richard Kovalcheck and Willie Tuitama, respectively).

Ten juniors have started the first game of the season. Jason Johnson (2001) is the only junior who started his first collegiate game in the opener. The other nine experienced playing time with the Wildcats in their freshman or sophomore seasons.

A majority of opening-game starters have been seniors, tallying 15, including the last three years with Nick Foles, Matt Scott and B.J. Denker.

Arizona has featured freshman starting quarterbacks but none who were deemed No. 1 out of fall camp. The list of freshmen who have started includes:

Tom Tunnicliffe in 1980
Ron Veal in 1987
George Malauulu in 1989
Keith Smith in 1996 (Batten was slightly ahead of him out of Fall camp that year but Smith became leading passer)
Ortege Jenkins in 1997
Kris Heavner and Ryan O’Hara in 2003
Willie Tuitama in 2005



Senior Jesse Scroggins seems confident about giving Solomon some good competition for the starting spot over the next 11 days.

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Arizona’s Jeff Worthy (6’3″, 285) was rated a four-star recruit by out of Whittier Christian High School in La Habra, Calif., signing with Boise State in 2011 over offers from Nebraska and several Pac-12 schools. He never played with the Broncos, however, redshirting in 2011, suspended for the 2012 season and then dismissed in February soon after being reinstated. Worthy has managed to keep a secret whatever he did wrong between him and the Boise State coaching staff, which included now-Washington coach Chris Petersen as the head coach. By the way, Washington travels to Tucson Nov. 15.

With all the talk about the quarterback competition, it’s easy to lose sight the improvement of the defense is crucial for Arizona.


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Awesome tradition Arizona has in place with this …

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


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