Arizona Football

Former Arizona Wildcats QB Veal empathizes with Denker’s ability to overcome criticism

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Former Arizona quarterback Ron Veal with his daughter Josie (Veal family photo)

Former Arizona quarterback Ron Veal with his daughter Josie (Veal family photo)

Former Arizona Wildcats quarterback Ron Veal wants B.J. Decker to surpass his rushing total for a season, which currently ranks as the UA’s best in the program’s Pac-10/12 existence.

Veal just wants the Arizona Wildcats quarterback to wait one more game to achieve that mark, so he can celebrate Denker’s achievement in person at the Homecoming game against UCLA on Nov. 9 at Arizona Stadium.

“I hope he breaks it on Homecoming,” Veal told me Sunday. “I’ll be there. That would be awesome.”

Denker, who has 519 yards rushing on 90 carries through the first seven games, is only 47 yards shy of Veal’s mark of 566 yards on 161 carries as a freshman with the Arizona Wildcats in 1987. Denker is 27 yards rushing away from Keith Smith’s 546 yards in which Smith gained also as a freshman in 1996.

Denker is in position to top Veal and Smith at Cal this Saturday because of his 192 yards on 15 carries in the Arizona Wildcats’ 44-20 win at Colorado last Saturday. Arizona’s media relations department believes that is the most rushing yards for a quarterback in a game in the program’s history.

Veal rushed for his 566 yards in 1987, Dick Tomey’s first season in Tucson. Tomey called on Veal, whom he discovered out of Fernandina Beach (Fla.) High School, to operate his run-and-shoot offense in place of the injured Bobby Watters four games into that season.


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Veal persevered through ankle and hamstring injuries in Arizona’s 4-4-3 season.

“I think he is a very productive quarterback,” Veal said of Denker. “He plays within himself and makes plays with his arms and legs in this offense.”

Veal knows a good quarterback when he sees one. He runs the Ron Veal Quarterback Camp in the Atlanta suburb of Austell, Ga. He has tutored a number of quarterbacks who have advanced to all levels of college football, including Georgia Tech quarterback Synjyn Days and Georgia’s Hutson Mason.

Veal has watched Denker’s development closely despite being in a different region of the country.

“I love his ability outside the pocket,” Veal said. “He keep his head up field and delivers the ball accurately. He is a playmaker.”

Veal knows what it’s like to be under the microscope as a quarterback of a major college program. In a pass-happy Pac-10 back then, Tomey and Veal became scrutinized more with Tomey trying a run-first offense. Veal shared time with Watters when the former SMU quarterback returned in 1988 following his broken thumb injury. Veal also split time at quarterback with freshman George Malauulu during his senior season of 1990.

Veal completed 197 of 441 passes for 2,867 yards in his career. He had 18 interceptions and 13 touchdown passes. He posed a threat to defenses because of his ability to mix the pass with the run, gaining 1,419 yards on 462 carries in his career.

He empathizes with Denker, who has heard criticism from some Arizona fans for his ability to lead a major-college offense.

“I know he took a lot of heat from the game against Washington (two interceptions and only 119 yards passing in UA’s 31-13 loss last month),” Veal said. “I didn’t think that was fair. And I know that feeling all to well.

“But it was nice to see him battle back and put together two wins in a row. I am proud of this young brother.”

[/ezcol_1half_end] publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes articles for Bleacher Report, Lindy’s College Sports and


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