We have reached only nine days until the Arizona Wildcats kick off their 2018 campaign under new coach Kevin Sumlin. The season begins when Arizona hosts BYU on Sept. 1 at Arizona Stadium.
To get ready for the upcoming season, All Sports Tucson offers another countdown, which includes 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.
The season marks some substantial anniversaries. It is the 40th anniversary since the Wildcats left the WAC to join 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 catch up on the countdown — which included in-depth analysis and reader polls on The Great Debate of which team was better — 1993 or 1998 — click on this: Arizona Wildcats 2018 countdown to kickoff.
Top 25 developments in Pac-10/12 era
Over the last part of the countdown we are ranking the top 25 developments of Arizona’s Pac-10/12 existence that started in 1978 when it arrived with ASU from the WAC. The ranking will include player highlights, team accomplishments, coaching moves and other off-field developments. If a player is involved, the ranking includes happenings only during the course of that athlete’s time at Arizona.
The ranking up to now:
Ricky Hunley’s career
Not too long after Hunley traveled west from Petersburg, Va., in 1980, he became the most talented and athletically gifted player to play for the Wildcats. He was one of 11 children who grew up in the Hunley household, which included younger brother Lamonte, who also became a standout linebacker with the Wildcats. When Arizona was ranked No. 3 by the Associated Press in 1983, Ricky’s senior season, Sports Illustrated described the brothers as, “Fire and Smoke, Mean and Nasty, Gotcha Now and Getcha Later.” “I want to run through people,” Ricky told SI. “I want a hit you’ll hear for days. I dream, I mean dream, of hitting a wide receiver in midair. Something hellacious. If a team has no business on the field with us, I want to let ’em know it.” Hunley, the highest NFL draft pick in Arizona history (seventh selection overall in 1984, by Cincinnati), is the Wildcat record-holder with 566 career tackles.
The best to wear No. 9 …
The best to wear No. 9 in Arizona history? That honor goes to receiver Terry Vaughn, who along with the late Troy Dickey, was a top target for Dan White during the Wildcats’ 10-2 season in 1993. He led the Wildcats in receiving three consecutive years. He became the CFL’s career reception leader on July 14, 2006, surpassing Darren Flutie’s previous record of 973 receptions. Vaughn finished the season with 1,006 career receptions, a record which stood until Ben Cahoon broke it on Oct. 11, 2010.
Wearing No. 9 now …
Two players wear No. 9 — freshman safety Dayven Coleman and fifth-year senior receiver Tony Ellison. Coleman was a first-Team 5A-I Region II, District 7 selection at Dallas West Mesquite High School. He posted 41 tackles with one interception his senior year. Ellison is looking for a breakout season in his last year with the Wildcats. He played in all 13 games with seven starts as a receiver last season and led the team with 598 receiving yards, averaging 16.2-yard average on 37 catches. He also had five receiving touchdowns, and also added one rushing touchdown.
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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.