Arizona Baseball

2024 Arizona football season countdown: 96 days to kickoff

To get ready for the upcoming Arizona football season, All Sports Tucson offers a countdown, which will include history notes and a look ahead to the season — a good way to keep Arizona football on the mind in the summer months leading up to fall camp in early August and then kickoff against New Mexico on Aug. 31 in the start of the Brent Brennan era.



With it being the 96th day until kickoff between the Lobos and Wildcats, the best player to wear No. 96 for Arizona is defensive tackle Brad Henke, who played on Dick Tomey’s first two teams in 1987 and 1988 and went on to play in the NFL. He passed away at age 56 in 2022. He was a JC transfer who had 90 tackles as a senior captain in 1988 for the Wildcats. He was drafted in 1989 in the fourth round by the New York Giants but was let go in the final cut. He was picked up by the Denver Broncos and played in the 1990 Super Bowl loss to San Francisco. He sustained injuries that forced him to retire from professional football in 1994. Thereafter, he began a career in acting and scored guest spots on multiple television series such as “Chicago Hope,” “Silk Stockings,” “ER,” “Michael Hayes,” “Arli$$” and “The Pretender.” Henke appeared in Netflix’s popular “Orange Is the New Black” series. He shared a SAG Award for outstanding performance by an ensemble in a comedy series in 2017. He acted in a number of cinematic movies, including “Pacific Rim.” 


Nick Fernandez

Fernandez, a redshirt freshman who is 6-foot-4 and 280 pounds, did not play at Arizona in 2023 after becoming a dual-threat athlete who played tight end and defensive end at San Pedro (Calif.) High School. He made 40 receptions for 551 yards and seven touchdowns over 24 games as a tight end and produced 55 total tackles (38 solo, 17 assists) with 10.0 sacks and 12.0 tackles for loss at defensive end. A member of a 10-1 overall and 4-0 in conference San Pedro team in 2022. A three-star prospect per 247Sports with offers from Boise State, Colorado State, Air Force, Army, Cal Poly, Fresno State, Grambling State, Montana State, Pennsylvania, Princeton, San Jose State, UNLV, Utah State, Washington State and Yale. Recruited by former defensive coordinator Johnny Nansen.


Arizona received a commitment from Class of 2025 quarterback Robert McDaniel, who announced Sunday he will attend Arizona after de-committing from Cal last week. McDaniel is a three-star prospect from Hughson (Calif.) High School in northern California. McDaniel, 6-foot-2, 190 pounds, passed for a career-best 2,839 yards and 33 touchdowns with only four interceptions while completing 181 of 304 pass attempts.


“He plays with a nice pace and tempo and moves really well in and out of the pocket. He had one of the quicker releases in the camp and was among the best throwing on the run and makes the off-platform throws look easy. He can change speeds, threw with anticipation and showed off a very promising upside.” 247Sports’ Greg Biggins in his report of McDaniel at the Elite 11 Tour in Las Vegas earlier this month.

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. He became an educator in 2016 and is presently a special education teacher at Sunnyside High School in the Sunnyside Unified School District.

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