Son of Former Sunnyside Coach Joining Arizona Wildcats as Graduate Transfer from New Mexico State

Former New Mexico State defensive lineman Roy Lopez Jr., whose father Roy Lopez Sr. coached at Sunnyside from 2016-18, will finish his career at Arizona as a graduate transfer. 

Lopez announced the transfer today via his Twitter account.

“Thank you to all of the schools that reached out to me during these crazy times. I am so humbled and grateful to announce I am coming back home to my home state!” he tweeted.

Lopez, a four-year starter for the Aggies, suffered a leg injury in the opening game of the 2019 season at Washington State. He returned to play in three games late in the year and was granted a fifth year. 

The 6-foot-2-inch, 310-pound defensive tackle had 137 tackles and eight sacks in four seasons with the Aggies. He hails from Gilbert Mesquite High School.

Lopez Sr. moved back to the Phoenix area last year to coach at Tolleson High School. He was also the head coach at Tempe McClintock from 2005 to 2013.

Roy Lopez Jr. will be a Wildcat in 2021 (Lopez graphic)

At the start of his career, he was an assistant under legendary Tom Joseph at Tempe Marcos de Niza, coaching the defensive line, when Joseph led that program to success with deep runs in the state playoffs. Lopez Sr. and Joseph were also on another dream team of coaches when they were assistants on the staff at Gilbert Mesquite before Lopez Sr. took the Sunnyside job.

Also on the Mesquite staff were offensive coordinator Corbin Smith (the son of former Arizona coach Larry Smith who is now the head coach at Tempe McClintock), Jerry Wheeler (former top aide for legendary coach Jesse Parker at Mesa Mountain View) and Marana coach Louie Ramirez (who also coached with Lopez at Marcos de Niza).

Ramirez shared this tweet Sunday:

It was at Mesquite where Lopez coached his son before his son went on to win the 2017 Arizona Bowl game with New Mexico State over Utah State at Arizona Stadium. One of his assistants at Sunnyside, Don Harrington, played in that game for the Aggies with Lopez Jr. as his teammate.

Another grad transfer from New Mexico, defensive lineman Aaron Blackwell will be on Arizona’s 2020 roster. He was coached with the Lobos by former defensive line coach Stan Eggen, who has the same role with the Wildcats.


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.

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