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Arizona Wildcats 2018 countdown to kickoff: 73 days


We are at 73 days until the Arizona Wildcats kick off their 2018 season under new coach Kevin Sumlin.

When Arizona hosts BYU on Sept. 1, it will mark the 40th anniversary since the Wildcats joined the Pac-12 (went from the Pac-8 to the Pac-10 then) and also the 20th anniversary of the 1998 team with the best record in school history, 12-1, and the 25th anniversary of the 1993 team that went 10-2 with a win over Miami in the Fiesta Bowl.

To get ready for the upcoming season, All Sports Tucson offers another countdown, which will include memories from former Wildcats, history notes and a look ahead to the season. Think of it as a way to keep Arizona football on the mind in the summer months leading up to fall camp in early August and then kickoff against the Cougars marking the start of the Sumlin Era.

To catch up on the countdown click on this: Arizona Wildcats 2018 countdown to kickoff.

A look back

— With it being the 73rd day until kickoff, the best player to wear No. 73 for Arizona? That would be guard Bill Lueck, who played with the Wildcats from 1965-67. He was the second first-round pick in Arizona history, going 26th overall in 1968 to the Green Bay Packers (coached by Vince Lombardi at the time). Walter Ring Nielson, a running back, was the first first-round pick in 1939 by the New York Giants.

He played eight seasons in the NFL, seven with Green Bay and his last in 1975 with the Philadelphia Eagles. After, he went back to his family’s dairy farming business in Arizona.

Bill Lueck was the first UA player taken in the first round of the NFL draft in the modern era

Lueck, an Avondale Agua Fria High School graduate, is 72 and living in retirement at Litchfield Park.

In a 2016 interview with the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, Lueck explained why he chose to play at Arizona instead of follow his brother Bob’s footsteps to Arizona State and play for Frank Kush.

Arizona head coach Jim LaRue came to the Luecks’ dairy farm to meet his family and recruit Bill with a simple message.

“He said, ‘Don’t you want your own identity?’ and ‘Aren’t you tired of being a little brother?’ ” Lueck said. “Besides, my wife (then girlfriend), Mary, was going to U of A.”

A look ahead

Wearing No. 73 this season for Arizona is walkon redshirt freshman tackle Tyrell Aponte, who played at Peoria High School. At 6-foot-4 and 263 pounds, Aponte will challenge for playing opportunities heading into this season. The future looks promising off the football field. He is majoring in molecular and cellular biology.

Tyrell Aponte

They tweeted it

A must-have commemorating Sumlin’s inaugural season with Arizona.


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