Arizona Football

Arizona Wildcats 2018 Countdown to Kickoff: 5 Days

We are in Game Week — five days — until the tailgate season is upon us when the Arizona Wildcats kick off their 2018 campaign under new coach Kevin Sumlin. The season begins when Arizona hosts BYU on Saturday at Arizona Stadium.

To get ready for the upcoming season, All Sports Tucson has offered another countdown, which includes 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.

The season marks some substantial anniversaries. It is the 40th anniversary since the Wildcats left the WAC to join 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 catch up on the countdown — which included in-depth analysis and reader polls on The Great Debate of which team was better — 1993 or 1998 — click on this: Arizona Wildcats 2018 countdown to kickoff.

Top 25 developments in Pac-10/12 era

Over the last part of the countdown we are ranking the top 25 developments of Arizona’s Pac-10/12 existence that started in 1978 when it arrived with ASU from the WAC. The ranking will include player highlights, team accomplishments, coaching moves and other off-field developments. If a player is involved, the ranking includes happenings only during the course of that athlete’s time at Arizona.

The ranking up to now:

No. 25: Darryll Lewis’ 1990 season

No. 24: Chris McAlister’s career

No. 23: Mike Stoops’ tenure

No. 22: Rob Waldrop’s career

No. 21: Scooby Wright III’s 2014 season

No. 20: Rich Rodriguez’s tenure

No. 19: Win over No. 1 Washington in 1992

No. 18: John Mackovic coaching fiasco

No. 17: Arizona Stadium upgrades

No. 16: Win at Notre Dame in 1982

No. 15: The Khalil Tate phenomenon

No. 14: Kevin Sumlin’s hire

No. 13: Ka’Deem Carey’s rushing exploits

No. 12: Tedy Bruschi’s career

No. 11: Win at No. 1 USC in 1981

No. 10: Chuck Cecil’s career

No. 9: Ricky Hunley’s career

No. 8: Larry Smith’s tenure

No. 7: 2014 Pac-12 South championship

No. 6: Probation from 1983 to 1985

No. 5

Dick Tomey’s tenure

Dick Tomey was forced to resign after 14 years at Arizona following the 2000 season. Looking back, it was a bad move that backfired, especially with unsuccessful John Mackovic replacing him. Tomey led Arizona to its two best seasons and left as the coach with the most career wins (95-64-4). He is one of only four coaches to win 12 games in 85 years of Pac-10 when the 1998 team finished 12-1 and ranked No. 4 in the nation. He was the Pac-10 Coach of the Year in 1992, the year the Desert Swarm defense was born. He coached 20 All-Americans and 43 first-team All-Pac-10 players. He also coached players to eight major national player awards and had four Morris Trophy winners. He should be destined for the College Football Hall of Fame.

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The best to wear No. 5 …

The best to wear No. 5 in Arizona history? That honor goes to 2007 Jim Thorpe Award winner Antoine Cason at cornerback. He was also a consensus All-American as a senior in 2007. Among his highlight-reel plays in 2007 were interception returns of 42 yards for a score against Oregon, a 56-yard punt return for a score against the Ducks and a 60-yard interception return for a score against Oregon State. He had three other interceptions on the year to give
him a career total of 15, fourth best in school history. His 165 yard on INT returns was just shy of the school record 191 yards set by Thorpe Award winner Darryll Lewis in 1990.
Cason was a two-time first-team All-Pac-10 selection.

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Wearing No. 5 now …

Two wear No. 5 now — sophomore receiver Brian Casteel and freshman safety Christian Young.

Casteel played in 11 games as a true-freshman backup receiver and occasional special teams contributor. He caught his first career pass – a 24-yard pass – against Purdue in Foster Farms Bowl. Young graduated this year from Foster High School in Richmond, Texas. He was voted team captain and MVP as a senior. He totaled 152 tackles, eight interceptions, 18 pass breakups, four tackles for loss and three forced fumbles in his career.

Brian Casteel played in 11 games as a true freshman receiver last season and his first catch was in the Foster Farms Bowl (Arizona Athletics photo)

FOLLOW @JAVIERJMORALES ON TWITTER! publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports,, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.

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