Arizona Football

2024 Arizona football season countdown: 64 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.



Arizona Athletics tribute for Warner Smith

With it being the 64th day until kickoff between the Lobos and Wildcats, the best player to wear No. 64 for Arizona is offensive lineman Warner Smith, who played with the program from 1991-94. Smith, a native of San Manuel, passed away in 2018 after battling Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS) for four years. He is survived by his wife Becky and daughter Carlee. Smith was a four-year starter and senior team captain for the Wildcats during the Desert Swarm era. After beginning his career on the defensive side of the ball, Smith became a two-time All-Pac-10 honoree as an offensive guard. During his career, Arizona compiled a 28-18-1 overall record, appeared in three bowl games and produced the 1994 Fiesta Bowl shutout over 10th-ranked Miami to cap the program’s first 10-win season. Another No. 64 worth mentioning — Jim Donarski, a three-time All-Border Conference guard from 1950 to 1952. He was also a second-team All-American in 1952.

Jim Donarski

NO. 64 IN 2024

No players on the current roster are listed as wearing No. 64.


Arizona’s top safeties among the top of those at the position in the Big 12 as rated by Pro Football Focus are Colgate transfer Owen Goss and Gunner Maldonado. Goss was an All-Patriot League First Team defensive back last season. He had 115 tackles, 88 solo, two tackles for loss, 13 pass break-ups, three interceptions totaling 63 yards and one touchdown, two forced fumbles and three blocked kicks in his three-year career with Colgate. Maldonado recorded a career high last year with 81 tackles (57 solo, 24 assists), finishing 16th in the Pac-12 in tackles. He returned a fumble 87 yards for a touchdown to earn Defensive MVP in the 2023 Alamo Bowl after defeating No. 12 Oklahoma 38-24.


“People don’t believe me, but I try not to go one hand (with his catches). I only do it when I have to.” — Arizona junior WR Tetairoa McMillan of his spectactular ability to make one-handed catches.

Tetairo McMillan’s one-handed TD grab at Colorado last season (Pac-12 Networks)

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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