The Arizona football team begins its 2013 season against Northern Arizona at Arizona Stadium on Aug. 30, which is 72 days away. From now until then, this Web site will count down the days with facts about the Wildcats, their players, coaching staff and opponents. This is not a ranking, only a list of 100 facts and observances related to the 2013 Arizona football team and coach Rich Rodriguez.
To opposing defensive linemen, former Arizona right guard Yusuf Scott was like the size of Texas, where he hailed from before excelling with the Wildcats.
Scott, nicknamed “Big U” during his Arizona career from 1996-98, stood at 6-foot-2 and 320 pounds with the Wildcats. Scott was athletic for his size and was able to pull in front of Trung Canidate, freeing the running back for big gains. Canidate can thank Scott, a product of LaPorte, Texas, near Houston, for much of his school-record 3,824 career rushing yards.
Scott once told the Arizona Daily Wildcat — “One of us is going to get hurt, and I don’t plan on it being me” — when preparing for standout Iowa defensive lineman Jared DeVries in 1998.
Arizona rolled over Iowa and DeVries 35-11 at Arizona Stadium as Canidate and Kelvin Eafon each ran for two touchdowns behind Scott and fellow offensive linemen Steven Grace, Bruce Wiggins, Makoa Freitas and Edwin Mulitalo — one of the finest groups in the Wildcats’ history.
The UA’s 12-1 season in 1998 included a roster with names spread throughout the school’s record book: Canidate, Dennis Northcutt, Jeremy McDaniel, Keith Smith, Ortege Jenkins and Chris McAlister, to name a few. Scott’s name does not immediately come to mind when recalling that season, mostly because he was in the trenches.
He won the Pac-10’s Morris Trophy in 1998, one of only two Arizona offensive linemen to earn such an honor. Joe Tofflemire, a center, was the other Morris Trophy winner in 1988.
“I’m a realist, I know what sells tickets,” Scott told the Daily Wildcat. “Guys like Chris McAlister, Dennis Northcutt and Jeremy McDaniel … I don’t want to be in the glamour, but I will tell you that when Trung Canidate scores a touchdown, I’m right there in the camera to say hello to my mother.”
If only Scott’s brother, Hoza Scott, can also say hello to their mother from Arizona. Hoza is rated by some national recruiting analysts as the best linebacker recruit in the Class of 2014. He and Yusuf are 19 years apart.
Because of that time span and Arizona on its third coach since Yusuf played for Dick Tomey, the Wildcats did not enter the recruiting picture for Hoza, who committed to Texas A&M in December. Another Scott brother — Gainus — played running back and defensive back for Arizona from 2001-03.
Yusuf, the best to wear uniform No. 72 in the program’s history, was Arizona’s first recruit from talent-rich Texas under Tomey. Rob Ianello, the UA’s recruiting coordinator at the time, lured Yusuf from La Porte in 1995. That was eight years into the Tomey regime.
Gainus signed with Arizona in 2001, the last year Yusuf played with the Arizona Cardinals after a three-year stint in the NFL. Yusuf’s weight became an issue after he turned pro. His last attempt in the NFL was with Tampa Bay in 1992 but he was waived shortly after fall camp started.
John Mackovic was Arizona’s new coach in 2001 when Gainus signed, so the LaPorte-to-Tucson pipeline survived Tomey’s forced resignation after the 2000 season. Gainus chose the UA over heavy-hitters LSU, Nebraska and Miami.
“I would like to follow in their steps, because they liked it and they were known very well around (La Porte) and it would be great for our family,” Hoza told the Houston Chronicle in 2011 about his college football aspirations. “But I also want to be known as Hoza, because I know I’m good and I have the talent.”
Hoza chose the Aggies over Notre Dame, Alabama, LSU and Texas.
While Yusuf achieved high honors at Arizona, Gainus struggled and was moved to defensive back by his junior season. He did not report to camp as a senior in 2004, Mike Stoops’ first year with the Wildcats after replacing the embattled Mackovic.
Stoops made it a priority to recruit in Texas because of his background as Oklahoma’s defensive coordinator. Following his ouster in 2011, Rich Rodriguez was hired. Rodriguez’s recruiting focus is more in Florida, another talent-laden state in the south. The UA did not sign a recruit from Texas in February. None of Rodriguez’s assistants currently have Texas listed as an area of recruitment.
With Arizona’s upcoming series with Texas-San Antonio, UTEP and Houston in the next few years, expect Rodriguez to extend his recruiting base to the Lone Star State. It would be a waste for the Wildcats to play against UTSA in 2014 in the Alamodome without prospective nearby recruits attending.
ASU is not playing this season against Notre Dame at Cowboy Stadium in Irving, Texas, because it is a nice facility built by Jerry Jones. The Sun Devils know they will have incredible exposure in Texas, especially if they compete well against the Fighting Irish.
If Tomey and Ianello can convince Yusuf Scott to head west, hope exists that Rodriguez can find another Texas-sized recruit.
WILDABOUTAZCATS.net publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes blogs for Lindy’s College Sports, TucsonCitizen.com and Sports Illustrated-sponsored site ZonaZealots.com.