Arizona Football

2016 Arizona Wildcats football season countdown: No. 53 individual record




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Only 53 days separate us from the start of Rich Rodriguez’s fifth season, when the Arizona Wildcats football team plays Brigham Young on Sept. 3 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale.

As is customary on this Web site, we will count down the days with an interesting element associated with each day. This year the topic is the top 100 individual records in Arizona’s storied football past.

Compiling the list was no easy task, but it was feasible to do with the information provided in the record books by the Arizona media relations department, and we appreciate that.


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Bobby Wade is the only Arizona receiver to eclipse 90 receptions in a season with 93 in 2002.


In past years, we have counted down the top games and highlighted players and some of the top plays in Arizona Wildcats football history. A couple of years ago in our top 100 countdown, we showcased the 1914 team that was responsible for Arizona becoming the “Wildcats”.

Back to this year’s countdown of the top 100 individual records in the 117 years of Arizona football:

No. 53

Most Passes Caught, Season: 93, Bobby Wade, 2002 (1,389 yards)

Pac-12 record: 128, Brandin Cooks, Oregon State, 2013 (1,730 yards)

NCAA record: 155, Freddie Barnes, Bowling Green, 2009 (1,770 yards)

Bobby Wade’s school-record 93 receptions in 2002 came at a time when Arizona football was in a decline under the John Mackovic.

Quick, who was Arizona’s quarterback with embattled coach John Mackovic in charge in 2002 when Bobby Wade achieved a school-record 93 receptions? Arizona finished 4-8 that season, Mackovic’s second with the Wildcats, and the quarterback was … Jason Johnson, who actually achieved one of the best seasons for an Arizona quarterback in the program’s history.

Johnson completed 239 of 410 pass attempts in 2002 for 3,327 yards, a mark that was a school record until Willie Tuitama threw for 3,683 yards in 2007.

Wade benefited from Mackovic’s emphasis on the pass, which was a departure from his coaching predecessors at Arizona (Larry Smith and Dick Tomey). Tom Tunnicliffe held the previous Arizona record for passing yards in a season with 2,520 yards in 1982 before Johnson’s output in 2002.

Johnson to Wade is one of Arizona’s finest quarterback-to-receiver combinations in program history, rivaling the most productive of them all, Nick Foles to Juron Criner.

Unfortunately for Wade, he played at a time when Arizona football was regressing. He broke Dennis Northcutt’s record of 88 receptions achieved in 1999 when he caught six passes for 109 yards in the last game of his career, a 34-20 loss against archrival ASU at Arizona Stadium in 2002.

“I was leaving a legacy as a senior,” Wade told John Moredich of the Tucson Citizen after the loss to the Sun Devils. “Trying to leave a mark, leaving a steppingstone so guys can understand what being a team player is all about. That’s all I’ve been trying to do — just help perform, each game, each week.”

[table “” not found /] publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports,, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.


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