Arizona Football

2024 Arizona football season countdown: 91 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.



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With it being the 91st day until kickoff between the Lobos and Wildcats, the best player to wear No. 91 for Arizona is defensive end Eli Wnek, who starred at Arizona from 1998 to 2001. Wnek also played at fullback, H-back and tight end for Dick Tomey before finishing his career under John Mackovic in 2001. He was a three-time member of the All-Pac-10 All-Academic team. He was also selcted to the 2000 Verizon Academic All-District VIII Football second team. He earned second team Academic All-District honors in 1999 as well. A Glendale Ironwood High School alum, he became a teacher at Peoria Centennial High School after his Arizona playing days. His family relocated to Tucson in recent years and Wnek served as the head volleyball coach through last season at Tucson High, where he coached his daughters Lily and Ruthie.

NO. 91 IN 2024 — DT Isaiah Johnson

Isaiah Johnson

Johnson is a 6-foot-5 and 305-pound defensive tackle entering his third season in the program as a redshirt sophomore. He appeared in two games on the defensive line against Washington and Arizona State last season and did not record a tackle. He redshirted in 2022 after graduating from Chandler High School. He made 114 total tackles including 38 solo and 76 assist during his Chandler career. He averaged 6.3 tackles per game and recorded 27.5 tackles for loss. A three-star prospect by 247Sports, he picked Arizona after receiving offers from Colorado, Idaho and Utah State.


Arizona football produced a video with former quarterback Willie Tuitama as narrator about the Wildcats’ rich tradition of recruiting and developing Polynesian players. Arizona is distinct with its addition of Polynesian quarterbacks over the last 35 years with George Malauulu (1989-92), Tuitama from 2005-08, Anu Solomon (2014-16), Jayden de Laura (2022-23) and Noah Fifita (2022-present). Former Arizona defensive end Joe Salave’a was a 2019 inductee in the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame. Expect many more from the Wildcat program to join him in years to come. Fifita and his primary target Tetairoa McMillan have potential to be All-Americans. Fifita is listed as a preseason Heisman candidate.


“You’ve gotta trust yourself as a middle safety sometimes. … Coach (Duane) Akina always talks about catches on the sideline. If you’re flying over on the sideline, you don’t want to do your max vertical jump or else you’re going to fly out of bounds and not get your feet in. You kind of want to stay low. … The best part of football is making the play and everybody going crazy (on the sidelines).” — Arizona safety Gunner Maldonado talking about his experience, including an interception near the sideline, in last year’s win over Oklahoma in the Alamo Bowl.

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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