Landing transfers from big-time programs meaningful for Arizona Wildcats



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The Arizona football team begins its 2013 season against Northern Arizona at Arizona Stadium on Aug. 30, which is 15 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.

Newest Wildcat receiver Cayleb Jones and his remarkable catch while at Austin (Texas) High School:

Three transfers from Texas to Arizona (Dan Buckner, Connor Brewer and Cayleb Jones) in a span of four years, two of them (Brewer and Jones) in one month. Another transfer from Notre Dame (Davonte’ Neal) in May and before that, one from USC (Jesse Scroggins).

Cayleb Jones is already working out with Arizona after transferring from Texas

Cayleb Jones is already working out with Arizona after transferring from Texas

What’s next? Alabama?

When defensive lineman Anthony Smith transferred from Alabama to Arizona in 1989, it was the second time a player from a traditional power headed to Tucson and played games for the Wildcats. Jay Dobyns, a Sahuaro grad, returned to Arizona from Arkansas in 1981 to play wide receiver for the Wildcats.

Dan White, a Penn State quarterback, came to Tucson in 1993 and was an important part of the 1994 Fiesta Bowl title team. It took another 16 years for another player from a major program, Buckner, a wide receiver from Texas, to step on the field for the Wildcats.

Oklahoma running back Fred Sims, formerly of Sunnyside, toyed with the idea of transferring to Arizona in 1983 but never played. Leon Blunt, a quarterback/running back from Notre Dame, transferred to the UA in 1995 and never got on the field.

Those who actually played came from programs that had won a total of 46 national titles at the time of their transfer — Arkansas (Dobyns) one, Alabama (Smith) 11, and Penn State (White) six. If Neal and Scroggins play for the UA this season that number will increase to 68. Notre Dame and USC each claim 11 national titles.

Arizona might have to wait for Neal to contribute to that number next season. His appeal to the NCAA to waive the mandatory year to sit after a transfer is still under review.

Searching the Texas message boards to get a general feel for how the Longhorn fans feel about Jones, a sophomore, transferring to Arizona, I stumbled upon this message in HornSports.com about Arizona landing Buckner, Brewer and Jones:

“The common element amongst all 3: They were all highly recruited football players. And they have all been arrested while attending UT. Rich Rodriguez living off UT football scraps.”

Notre Dame transfer Davonte Neal is awaiting word of his NCAA appeal to play this season for the Wildcats

Notre Dame transfer Davonte Neal is awaiting word of his NCAA appeal to play this season for the Wildcats

That’s true but the word “scraps” makes it seem as if Texas did not want these players. They ran afoul of the law but were never booted off the team by Texas coach Mack Brown.

It was reported that Buckner and Texas parted ways after Buckner’s arrest in 2010 for criminal trespass and resisting arrest in College Station, Texas. He was asked to leave an apartment by an acquaintance and the police, and he refused.

Brewer was arrested in early February on a couple of misdemeanor alcohol-related charges (public intoxication and minor in possession of alcohol). His decision to transfer to Arizona in early July had nothing to do with those charges. He competed in spring practice at Texas. He saw a better opportunity to play quarterback at Arizona.

Jones, who is already enrolled and practicing at Arizona, was arrested and initially charged with aggravated assault for hitting Texas tennis player Joey Swaysland in March. Jones’ charges were reduced to a misdemeanor. He was suspended from the Longhorns at the time of the initial charges. He was reinstated but Brown suspended him for the season opener against New Mexico State.

These incidents do not make Buckner, Brewer ad Jones misfits. They put themselves in a regrettable bad spot. Anybody who met Buckner, for example, when he played at Arizona, knows he was one of the Wildcats’ model players.

“He brings a great spirit, he always has,” running back Ka’Deem Carey told the Arizona Daily Wildcat last season. “He’s a leader on this team.”

Most of the players who transfer to and from Arizona do so because of playing time. That was the case of Brewer and Scroggins, who will compete against each other at quarterback next season when Brewer becomes eligible. White and Dobyns came to Arizona for the same reason.

Neal transferred to be closer to home to spend more time with his family. Smith left Alabama after experiencing disciplinary issues with coach Bill Curry.

Transferring allows these players another opportunity, a fresh start, and that mirrors life. Everybody makes mistakes. Every responsible person looks to improve their situation.

The fact these players want to make their next move with Arizona, which does not have an outright Pac-12 title, let alone a national championship, speaks volumes of Rodriguez’s popularity.

Buckner made the transition to Arizona because of the background of Mike Stoops’ staff in Texas recruiting circles.

For these transfers who are leaving big progams, it’s all about trusted relationships and gathering a good sense of where a program is headed.

The best Arizona player to wear No. 15, according to TucsonCitizen.com’s Anthony Gimino, is defensive back Jeff Hammerschmidt (1987-90). He was an All-Pac-10 safety in 1989 who later served as UA assistant under Dick Tomey and Mike Stoops. He also played quarterback in his UA career.


Last year, this site and TucsonCitizen.com ran a Top 50 Games in the history of Arizona football series. I will relive that list here with less than 50 days to kickoff and add one game to it: Arizona’s improbable 49-48 win over Nevada in the New Mexico Bowl last December, which landed as No. 38 on the list. Note, after clicking on the link, you will notice last year’s ranking. The list on this page is the current ranking.

No. 15: L.A. Times reporter: Arizona shows “fight of wildcats” in 1914 game vs. Occidental

No. 16: UA leads UCLA late in third quarter but loses big in 12-1 season

No. 17: Unranked Arizona upsets Ohio State, Woody Hayes in Buckeyes’ 1967 opener in Columbus

No. 18: Arizona and hasty coach Mudra lose Ultimatum Bowl to ASU in 1968

No. 19: Arizona keeps “The Streak” without loss to ASU alive in ’87 with bizarre finish that ends in tie

No. 20: Arizona fit to be tied with Cal despite leading 26-3 in third quarter

No. 21: Zendejas’ last-second 45-yard FG vs. ASU generates momentum for “The Streak” to endure

No. 22: Arizona wins its first bowl behind “Heat-seeking Missile” Chuck Cecil

No. 23: Collapse vs. Utah after leading 27-0 in fourth quarter changed the face of UA football

No. 24: UA shuts out ASU, Kush during dominating run for Sun Devils coach

No. 25: Arizona’s defense and Doug Pfaff’s last-second FG enough to upset sixth-ranked Oklahoma

No. 26: UA upsets ASU from Fiesta Bowl consideration in program’s best stretch

No. 27: Trung Canidate rushes for record 288 yards and three long TDs in ’98 shootout against ASU

No. 28: UA dominates No. 3 SMU, highest ranked non-conference foe to lose to Cats

No. 29: Arizona stuns second-ranked Oregon in most significant victory in Mike Stoops era

No. 30: Arizona’s win on last-second FG over ASU ends Frank Kush’s dominance in the series

No. 31: Arizona reaches its zenith under Mike Stoops with victory over Brigham Young in Las Vegas Bowl

No. 32: Arizona owed Cal a couple, knock Bears out of BCS title, Rose Bowl run

No. 33: Arizona’s 10-9 loss at Oregon in 1994, derailing its Rose Bowl hopes, still hurts

No. 34: ASU ripe for picking in banana uniforms for “The Streak” to reach eight

No. 35: Arizona tries risky fake PAT to beat California but loses in epic 4 overtime game

No. 36: Veal to Hill “Hail Mary” pass highlights “The Streak” reaching seven games against ASU

No. 37: USC outlasts Arizona 48-41 in one of most wild games played in Tucson

No. 38: Arizona Wildcats’ comeback against Nevada No. 38 in Top 50 games list

No. 39: Arizona shows signs of life under Mike Stoops with rout over No. 7 UCLA

No. 40: Art Luppino “The Cactus Comet” rockets toward 38 yards per carry and five touchdowns

No. 41: Fumblerooski enables Arizona to sweep USC, UCLA in L.A. for first time

No. 42: Sun Devil nemesis Dan White quarterbacks Arizona into Fiesta Bowl with win over ASU

No. 43: Struggling UA gets improbable win against ’83 Pac-10 champ UCLA

No. 44: Closing chapter of “The Streak” includes Arizona’s dramatic fourth-quarter heroics

No. 45: Arizona overcomes rival Texas Tech with unfathomable late-game rally

No. 46: Dick Tomey, the Desert Fox, does a number on UCLA by changing offense in midseason

No. 47: “The Streak” reaches three games, UA achieves best Pac-10 finish

No. 48: Arizona’s first game at Arizona Stadium in 1929, a 35-0 win over Cal Tech

No. 49: Underdog Arizona’s 2011 thriller over arch-rival Arizona State

No. 50: Arizona’s first win over arch-rival Arizona State, then known as Territorial Normal

Dropped out: Arizona’s first win in program’s history: 22-5 over Tucson Indians

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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.


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