The total number of former Arizona football players as head coaches increased by two to a total of 10 this week with the hires of Ronnie Palmer and Leighton Milton.
Palmer, a heralded linebacker from 2005-08, was hired by Monterey Peninsula (Calif.) Junior College.
Milton, a defensive end who had one of Arizona’s four sacks in the Wildcats’ 29-0 drubbing of Miami in the 1994 Fiesta Bowl, was elevated to head coach at Hollywood (Calif.) High School. Milton has taught social studies at the school for almost 20 years.
Their hires also increase the total number of former Arizona athletes as head coaches to 39.
Milton was an unsung junior college transfer who bided his time playing on the defensive line as a reserve for the Desert Swarm defense.
Palmer was four-year starting linebacker for Mike Stoops. He was the team’s defensive MVP in 2008 when the Wildcats beat BYU in the Las Vegas Bowl. He spent a training camp with the Washington Redskins in 2009.
He later played in the United Football League with the Las Vegas Locomotives and Sacramento Mountain Lions, where his head coach was the late Denny Green.
An assistant coach at Northern Colorado the past two years, Palmer is a head coach for the first time in his eight-year college coaching career. He was once a defensive coordinator at Monterrey Peninsula in addition to being an assistant for three years at Division III Texas A&M-Kingsville as the defensive line coach and two seasons at Colorado State as a graduate assistant.
“You could have those thoughts about, ‘Is this the right decision?’ until you’re blue in the face,” Palmer told the Monterey Herald. “I’m going back to where I’ve had some success. Anytime you get an opportunity, it’s worth it.”
Palmer is married to former Arizona softball player Lauren Schutzler, who was a four-year starter in center field for Arizona from 2008-11. She was part of three Women’s College World Series appearances.
FORMER ARIZONA ATHLETES WHO ARE HEAD COACHESList of head coaches of various sports and different levels who competed at Arizona. *-Denotes did not finish career at Arizona. Compiled by AllSportsTucson.com.
|Candace Abrams||2000-04||Clarendon (Texas) JC||Softball||2020|
|Amy Baray-Rocha||1999||Salpointe Catholic HS||Softball||2015|
|Adia Barnes||1995-99||Arizona||Women's hoops||2016|
|Marcus Bell||1996-99||Eagar Round Valley HS||Football||2011|
|Heidi Bomberger-Bruschi||1993-97||Attleboro (MA) Feehan HS||Volleyball||2020|
|Matt Brase||2003-05||Haiti National Team||Men's hoops||2017|
|Robert Bonillas||1995-98||Desert View HS||Football||2012|
|Tod Brown||1990-94||New Mexico||Baseball||2022|
|Casey Candaele||1980-82||Toronto Blue Jays Triple-A||Baseball||2021|
|Jackie Coburn||2002-05||Scottsdale Horizon HS||Softball||2013|
|Troy Cooke||1982-84||Show Low HS||Boys hoops||2020|
|Clark Crist||1977-80||Pulaski (VA) River Turtles||Baseball||2021|
|Jay Dobyns||1982-84||Tanque Verde HS||Football||2020|
|Britt Echols*||2001||Sahuaro HS||Baseball||2020|
|Byron Evans||1983-86||South Mountain HS||Football||2020|
|Terry Francona||1977-80||Cleveland Indians||MLB||2013|
|Tanya Farhat-Villarreal||1994-97||West Bend (WI) Slinger HS||Softball||2015|
|Brenda Frese||1989-93||Maryland||Women's hoops||2002|
|Jason Hisey||1988-91||Canyon del Oro HS||Baseball||2019|
|Jack Howell||1983||Anaheim Angels Single-A||Baseball||2021|
|Krista Humphreys||1993-96||Corona (CA) Centennial HS||Softball||2015|
|Stacey Iveson||1986-89||Israel National Team||Softball||2019|
|Mark Keel||1979-82||Silverdale (WA) Central Kitsap HS||Football||2000|
|Steve Kerr||1983-88||Golden State Warriors||NBA||2014|
|Michael Klyce||2004-08||Los Angeles Locke HS||Football||2017|
|David Landrith||1980-83||Pusch Ridge HS||Baseball||2019|
|Andy Litten||1999-03||Scottsdale Horizon HS||Football||2021|
|Hunter Long||2013-15||Douglas HS||Football||2019|
|Michael Lopez||2009-12||Big Spring (TX) Howard JC||Baseball||2020|
|Paige Maggio||2013-16||Mountain View HS||Girls soccer||2018|
|Brandon Manumaleuna||1997-00||Lawndale (CA) Leuzinger HS||Football||2020|
|Jennifer Martinez||2008-09||Abraham Baldwin (GA) JC||Softball||2017|
|Scott McKee||1999-02||Sahuaro HS||Football||2009|
|Craig McMillan||1984-88||Santa Rosa (CA) JC||Men's hoops||2000|
|Richard Mercado||2002-04||Santa Ana (CA) Mater Dei HS||Baseball||2019|
|Leighton Milton||1992-93||Hollywood (CA) HS||Football||2020|
|Edwin Mulitalo||1995-98||Southern Virginia||Football||2018|
|Ronnie Palmer||2005-08||Monterrey Peninsula (CA) JC||Football||2020|
|Josh Pastner||1996-00||Georgia Tech||Men's hoops||2016|
|Jose Portilla||1996-97||Heritage Academy||Football||2017|
|Jody Pruitt||1990-93||Peoria Sunrise Mountain HS||Softball||2011|
|Rebekah Quiroz||2002||Pima CC||Softball||2019|
|Danielle Steinberg||2005-09||Colorado||Women's tennis||2018|
|Gina Snyder||2018-19||Manatee (FL) Squeeze||Softball||2020|
|Jason Stewart||1997-99||Encinitas (CA) San Dieguito HS||Boys hoops||2014|
|Damon Stoudamire||1992-95||Pacific||Men's hoops||2016|
|Rafael Valenzuela||2008-10||Tampa Bay Rays Rookie League||Baseball||2019|
|Luke Walton||1999-03||Sacramento Kings||NBA||2019|
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com 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 CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, 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.