Arizona Football

2024 Arizona football season countdown: 80 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.



Damon Terrell

With it being the 80th day until kickoff between the Lobos and Wildcats, the best player to wear No. 80 for Arizona is tight end Damon Terrell, who passed away in September 1995 following complications from a medical error, a month after collapsing in fall camp. Arizona’s team MVP award was named in his honor. An autopsy determined an air bubble that formed during the removal of a dialysis catheter blocked the flow of blood to Terrell’s heart. Terrell began his football career when he walked on to the team at El Camino Community College in Torrance, Calif. He was an immediate success, catching 83 passes in two seasons. He was rated as the top junior college tight end in the country when he signed with Arizona in 1993. Terrell joined the Wildcats for the 1994 season and caught six passes for 56 yards, with his first catch coming in a win against UCLA. Arizona retired Terrell’s jersey during halftime of a game during the 2004 season. “All of the players looked to him for inspiration and guidance and he quickly became one of the most popular members of the Arizona football team,” Dick Tomey said at the time of Terrell’s jersey retirement. “Damon’s love of the game was evident every time he took the field and his outstanding ability showed when he played.”

Arizona Republic clipping from 1995


Dylan Tapley (Arizona graphic)

Tapley, 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds, is a freshman out of Desert Mountain High School in Scottsdale. Tapley is a four-star athlete (per He was rated the No. 12 player in Arizona and No. 34 athlete. He received offers from Arizona State, Colorado State, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Nevada, New Mexico State and Oregon. He also played wide receiver and safety in high school. Recorded 2,460 receiving yards and 34 touchdowns on 147 receptions over three seasons on varsity. Made 16 interceptions and gained 260 total yards on the returns.


Pro Football Focus’s Trevor Sikkema writes that Arizona junior QB Noah Fifita is the best in college in third-and-long situations. “Fifita’s 91.8 grade on third-and-long was the top mark for the 20 quarterbacks we measured for this piece,” Sikkema writes. “He did not record a turnover-worthy play on third-and-long all season while 49.0% of those throws were past the sticks. (Oregon QB Dillon) Gabriel (formerly of Oklahoma) produced more big-time throws but also more turnover-worthy plays while (Texas A&M QB Conner) Weigman’s grades were similar to Fifita’s but with many fewer games played.”


“I’m not really sure whose quote it is but it’s, ‘Yesterday was the past, tomorrow’s the future, but today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present.’ It kind of reminds me to appreciate the little moments. Appreciate the now and make the most of it and enjoy every day.” — Chubba Ma’ae, senior defensive lineman

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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