Arizona Football

2024 Arizona football season countdown: 66 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.



Walt “Hoss” Nielson flies past and barrels over Montana defenders in a 1938 game against Montana at Arizona’s football field (University of Arizona photo)

With it being the 66th day until kickoff between the Lobos and Wildcats, the best player to wear No. 66 for Arizona is running back/linebacker Walter “Hoss” Nielsen, one of the Wildcats’ greatest who played with the program from 1936 to 1938. Nielsen was a Little All-American and the school’s first first-round draft pick, 10th overall by the New York Giants in 1939. His teammate, John Black (1938-40) is another Arizona Hall of Fame member who wore No. 66.

1940 New York Giants program featuring Walter “Horse” Nielsen although his real nickname was “Hoss.”

After playing with the Giants for two years, he entered the Army, spending four years overseas, first in Tunisia with General Patton. He was part of the Sicily Invasion. He was then sent to England to train for the Normandy Invasion D-Day and across Europe to the occupation of Berlin. He was awarded the Purple Heart, the Bronze Medal and the Silver Star for gallantry in action. Coming home in 1946, he was reunited with his wife, Alice Flaccus Nielsen and his 3-year-old son, Walter who was born three days after he left for overseas. Walt Sr. became Western Sales Manager for Interwoven Hosiery and lived in La Canada, Calif., for 20 years, before moving to a cattle ranch in Smoky Valley, Nev. He started a business manufacturing coin wrappers for casinos in Las Vegas and Reno and lived in the Las Vegas area for 14 years. At that time, he was active in the Arizona Alumni Club as the president. He retired in Tucson and spent his summers in Pinetop before passing away at age 89 in 2006. He was married to Alice for 64 years.

Walt Nielsen later in life

NO. 66 IN 2024

No current players are listed as wearing No. 66.


Arizona’s list of Class of 2025 commitments — Brennan’s first full recruiting class — is now at 17 players after the Wildcats having only two at the start of this month. The Wildcats added two more on Wednesday morning — defensive back Coleman Patmon of Del Valle, Texas, and defensive end Mays Pese of Santa Barbara, Calif. Both are 3-star recruits as rated by Rivals. Patmon chose Arizona over a number of Big 12 schools, including Texas Tech, K-State, Oklahoma State, Houston, TCU and Kansas. Northwestern, Arkansas and Washington also offered him a scholarship. Washington’s offer came only two weeks ago before Patmon took an official visit of Arizona. Pese had offers from San Diego State, Washington State, UNLV, California, Oregon State and Michigan State. He visited California two weeks ago and committed two days later. He de-committed Wednesday morning and flipped to Arizona. Brennan and his staff also got its first Class of 2026 commit from offensive lineman Michael Langi of San Francisco Archbishop Riordan High School. Langi took a visit to Arizona this past weekend ahead of the dead period with his brother Peter Langi, who is a three-star 0ffensive lineman recruit for the 2025 class.


Coleman PatmonDBDel Valle, TX6’3″195***6/26/24
Mays PeseDESanta Barbara, CA6’2″260***6/26/24
Losipini TupouOLSan Francisco, CA6’2″270***6/24/24
Javian GooOLKapolei, HI6’4″285**6/24/24
Kaleb JonesOLPhoenix6’2″288***6/24/24
Gianni EdwardsDBForney, TX6’0″1806/24/24
Dajon HintonATHChandler5’10”165***6/23/24
Sione TohiOTSanta Ana, CA6’3″330***6/23/24
Allen GantDBLubbock, TX6’0″186***6/23/24
Swayde GriffinDBLago Vista, TX6’2″185***6/23/24
Terry SheltonWRIrving, TX6’4″200***6/18/24
Sean RobinsonWRCibolo, TX6’4″215***6/17/24
Wesley YarbroughRBCrosby, TX5’10”190****6/17/24
Joshua TuchekDBLong Beach, CA6’1″180***6/17/24
Luke HaugoQBGilbert6’5″210***6/4/24
Robert McDanielQBHughson, CA6’2″190***5/26/24
Kellan FordTEDanville, CA6’5″235***4/7/24
Player info from Rivals


“The people stood out the most. It was a great culture.” — Patmon told after a recent vist to Arizona

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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