Tyler Mustain’s tackling totals as a linebacker in his three varsity seasons at Pusch Ridge are 349 with 33 tackles for loss — stats that are the norm for recruits rated with three stars or more by recruiting services.
The numbers are only part of what a college program looks at because stats at the high school level can get skewed.
At 6-2 and 220 pounds, exhibiting his tackling ability and eye for the ball defensively on film, Mustain has enough what it takes for Arizona’s coaching staff under Jedd Fisch to open the door to the program to him as a preferred walk-on.
WHAT IS A PREFERRED WALK-ON? They are added to the roster but won’t receive financial assistance at least for the first year in the program. They can earn a scholarship going into their second season but nothing is guaranteed. While preferred walk-ons do not receive athletic scholarship funding, they do receive other amenities that scholarship players have — use of the training facility, athletic gear and meals, etc.
Mustain let it be known today for the first time during signing day that he will join the Wildcats in that capacity.
“The whole process has been really exciting and fun for me,” Mustain told Andy Morales of AllSportsTucson.com. “I went down there on Saturday for their preferred walk-on day and I fell in love with the place. I’m really excited to work with the coaching staff, especially Coach (Aaron) Van Horn.
“He’s going to be my inside linebackers coach the next few years. I’m excited to get going.”
Van Horn is entering his second season at Arizona as a defensive analyst after coming to Tucson from Michigan to initially work with former defensive coordinator Don Brown. He spent four years with the Wolverines as a defensive student assistant before coming to Tucson after the 2021 season.
Breaking. Tyler Mustain of @PRCAFootball to Arizona @ArizonaFBall pic.twitter.com/qhg9iXREMN
— Andy Morales (@AndyMorales8) February 1, 2023
Mustain’s tackling totals at Pusch Ridge:
Van Horn and Rincon/University graduate Beyah Rasool, the Wildcats’ assistant defensive backs coach, have been instrumental in landing the preferred walk-ons.
Never before in the history of Arizona’s program has it provided the opportunity for so many local players to join and show what they’ve got with their skills and determination with the hopes of earning a scholarship.
Here’s the list that has developed over the last couple of weeks in addition to Mustain:
— DT Chase Randall, 6-foot-1 and 260 pounds, CDO (transfer from Valparaiso)
— OL/DL Jacob Rasmussen, 6-3, 250, Thatcher
— NT Toafia Fruean, 6-3, 285, Buena
Cruz Rushing, a 6-1 and 190-pound safety from Salpointe Catholic, is on scholarship at Arizona after being at Florida last season as a preferred walk-on.
Arizona also attracted two prospects from the Phoenix area as preferred walk-ons:
DE Nolan Clement, 6-4, 220, Goodyear Desert Edge
LB Dominic Hanger, 6-1, 205, Chandler
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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. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District.