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CATCH UP ON THE COUNTDOWN BY VISITING: ARIZONA’S TOP 100 INDIVIDUAL RECORDS
Only 27 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.
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:
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Jackie Wallace’s 94-yard punt return against UCLA in 1971 still stands as a school record 45 years later
ARIZONA LONGEST PUNT RETURNS
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Longest Punt Return: 94 yards, Jackie Wallace, vs. UCLA, 1971
Pac-12 record: 100 yards, Don Guest, California vs. Washington State, 1966; Hugh McElhenny, Washington vs. USC, 1951
NCAA record: 100 yards, held by 12 players, most recently Chris Davis, Auburn vs. Alabama, and Odell Beckham Jr., LSU vs. Alabama-Birmingham, 2013
Jackie Wallace was one of the most feared returners in Arizona’s days in the Western Athletic Conference in the early 1970’s (University of Arizona photo)
You have to go all the way back to UCLA’s first possession in the 1971 game played at Arizona Stadium for the longest punt return in Wildcat history. Jackie Wallace electrified the 37,500 in attendance with a 94-yard touchdown sprint that would prove to be one of the few highlights in a 28-12 loss to the Bruins.
Much to the chagrin of UCLA coach Pepper Rodgers, however, Wallace achieved his return after the Bruins prepared mightily the week prior on special teams because of problems stopping returns in previous games.
“We’ve been burned three straight weeks with long returns,” Rodgers told the Tucson Citizen after the game. “Did that guy (Wallace) go 100 yards?”
After he was told the return was 94 yards, Rodgers said: “Well, the only reason he didn’t go 100 was because we can’t kick it far enough.”
The longest punt return for Arizona since then is an 87-yarder by Marquis Hundley in 2008 against Idaho. That occurred after Hundley picked up a fumble by Mike Thomas on that punt return. Bug Wright went 86 yards for a score against Washington State in 2009.
Other school records achieved by Wallace listed previously in this countdown:
79. Most Interception Returns for Touchdown, Career: 4, Jackie Wallace, 1970-72
ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com 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 CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, 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.