Arizona Wildcats 2018 countdown to kickoff: 71 days

We are at 71 days until the Arizona Wildcats kick off their 2018 season under new coach Kevin Sumlin.

When Arizona hosts BYU on Sept. 1, it will mark the 40th anniversary since the Wildcats joined the Pac-12 (went from the Pac-8 to the Pac-10 then) and also the 20th anniversary of the 1998 team with the best record in school history, 12-1, and the 25th anniversary of the 1993 team that went 10-2 with a win over Miami in the Fiesta Bowl.

To get ready for the upcoming season, All Sports Tucson offers another countdown, which will include memories from former Wildcats, history notes and a look ahead to the season. Think of it as a way to keep Arizona football on the mind in the summer months leading up to fall camp in early August and then kickoff against the Cougars marking the start of the Sumlin Era.

To catch up on the countdown click on this: Arizona Wildcats 2018 countdown to kickoff.

A look back

— With it being the 71st day until kickoff, the best player to wear No. 71 for Arizona? That would be Desert Swarm defensive tackle Chuck Osborne, who played with the Wildcats from 1992 to 1995. He had 18 sacks in his final two seasons, a phenomenal number for an interior lineman.

Osborne sadly passed away in 2012 at age 38 from what doctors would later determine from complications related to CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), a brain injury mostly likely suffered from his football career.

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Osborne led the Wildcats with 11 sacks in 1994, an admirable accomplishment on a team that included Arizona career sacks leader Tedy Bruschi. Osborne, who played in the interior with Rob Waldrop, Ty Parten, Jim Hoffman and Joe Salave’a through his career, finished with 21 career sacks, the 10th-best total in school history.

A seventh-round draft pick by the Rams in 1996, he sacked Stanford quarterback Steve Stenstrom four times in a 1994 game, but his most memorable play came in his final game — 1995 at Arizona State. Arizona rallied from a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit that day, tying the game when Osborne sacked Jake Plummer, knocking the ball loose. Salave’a scooped it up and returned it 8 yards for a touchdown. The Cats went on to win 31-28.

“You talk about the guys who personified hard-nosed tough guys, he was one of those guys,” teammate Heath Bray said of Osborne. “If there was one human being on the planet I had to go into hand-to-hand combat with on my side, I can’t think of anyone I would pick ahead of him.”

A look ahead

Wearing No. 71 this season for Arizona is redshirt junior defensive lineman Abraham Maiava (6-foot-2, 295 pounds) who hails from American Samoa. He moved from the offensive line during spring practice. He is a transfer from the New Mexico Military Institute.

They posted it

Christina Pena, the mother of former Cienega star quarterback Jamarye Joiner, posted this week on Facebook the uniform of her son. Joiner (6-3, 205) was a 3-star quarterback at Cienega who drew interest late in the recruiting campaign from Alabama before honoring his commitment to Arizona and signing in February.


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