Arizona Football

2016 Arizona Wildcats football season countdown: No. 3 individual record




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51 BYU


Only three 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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Ricky Hunley is one of only three Arizona players to reach 500 career tackles.

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No. 3

Most Career Tackles: 566, Ricky Hunley, Arizona, 1980-83

Pac-12 record: 578, Michael Jackson, Washington, 1975-78

NCAA record*: 545, Tim McGarigle, Northwestern, 2002-05

*Defensive stats not tabulated in record book until 2000.

The greatest defensive player in Arizona history Ricky Hunley embraces the best offensive player in Wildcat history Ka’Deem Carey during a game against Oregon three seasons ago (ABC-TV video capture)

If the NCAA tabulated defensive records before 2000, Ricky Hunley’s name would be listed in the record book somewhere.

As it is, his 566 tackles are more than what the NCAA recognizes as the career-tackles record-holder: Northwestern’s Tim McGarigle, who played linebacker from 2002-05.

Hunley’s phenomenal 566 tackles ranks fourth in Pac-12 history — the conference’s data goes back to the 1960’s — with Washington linebacker Michael Jackson the record-holder at 578 from 1975-78.

Hunley is only one of three Arizona players to reach 500 tackles in a career. Byron Evans, a middle linebacker like Hunley in Larry Smith’s defense, tallied 552 from 1983-86 and Obra Erby, a linebacker during the Jim Young era of 1973-76, had 529.

Put this into context: Since the year 2000, when the NCAA finally came around to recognizing defensive players, the most career tackles for Arizona is former linebacker Spencer Larsen with 312. That’s right: 254 less than what Hunley achieved.

Hunley became the first Arizona player inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1997.

“Ricky’s a born leader,” the late Smith said of the induction. “He’s reached the epitome of any player’s dream (also playing in the Super Bowl).” 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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