We are now only 66 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 66th day until kickoff, the best player to wear No. 66 for Arizona? That would be legendary fullback Walter “Hoss” Nielsen, Arizona’s first star on a national stage who played from 1936-38. Nielsen was a Little All-American and the school’s first first-round draft pick, 10th overall by the New York Giants in 1939. His teammate, John Black (1938-40) is another Arizona Hall of Fame member who wore No. 66.
After playing with the Giants for two years, he entered the Army, spending four years overseas, first in Tunisia with General Patton. He was part of the Sicily Invasion. He was then sent to England to train for the Normandy Invasion D-Day and on across Europe to the occupation of Berlin. He was awarded the Purple Heart, the Bronze Medal and the Silver Star for gallantry in action. Coming home in 1946, he was reunited with his wife, Alice Flaccus Nielsen and his three-year-old son, Walter who was born three days after he left for overseas.
Walt Sr. became Western Sales Manager for Interwoven Hosiery and lived in La Canada, Calif., for 20 years, before moving to a cattle ranch in Smoky Valley, Nev. He started a business manufacturing coin wrappers for casinos in Las Vegas and Reno and lived in the Las Vegas area for 14 years. At that time, he was active in the Arizona Alumni Club as the president.
He retired in Tucson and spent his summers in Pinetop before passing away at age 89 in 2006. He was married to Alice for 64 years.
Player interview: David Adams
David Adams is a Sunnyside and Arizona football great. Pound for pound (5-foot-6 and 175 pounds), the toughest player ever to put on the helmet for the Wildcats. Drafted in the 12th round in 1987 by the Indianapolis Colts, Adams eventually played for the Dallas Cowboys before playing two seasons in the CFL for Hamilton in 1989 and 1990.
In 1984, Adams earned All-Pac-10 second-team honors at running back and returner. In 1986, he was the first back in Arizona history to lead the Pac-10 in rushing (1,224 yards) and was first team All-Pac-10 and honorable mention All-American.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE GAME?
“All the ASU games (Adams never lost to the Sun Devils from 1983 to 1986 during “The Streak”). Plus SMU because we were not suppose to win and we kicked their assess!” (The Mustangs came to Tucson ranked No. 3 in 1985 and were throttled by Arizona 28-6 behind Adams’ 136 yards on 22 carries).”
WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE WILDCAT?
“Byron Evans — great person and player.”
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PLAY?
“Every time I touched the ball! But one play that I thought was the best was James DeBow’s goal line stop against ASU (in the Wildcats’ upset over the Rose Bowl-bound Sun Devils in 1986)!”
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE COACH MEMORY?
“Coach (Larry) Smith loved his players.”
WHAT EXCITES YOU ABOUT THE 2018 SEASON?
“This upcoming season excites me because we have a new coach (Sumlin) that I like as a person and a coach.”