Arizona Football

2024 Arizona football season countdown: 58 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.



Ivan Lesnik, accomplished anesthesiologist in Seattle

With it being the 58th day until kickoff between the Lobos and Wildcats, the best player to wear No. 58 for Arizona is defensive tackle Ivan Lesnik, who played with the program from 1980-83. Lesnik is one of Arizona’s top scholar-athletes among football players, with 14 career sacks and two Academic All-America awards. Lesnik is now an accomplished anesthesiologist in Seattle. After receiving his M.D. from the University of Arizona College Of Medicine, he completed a residency in anesthesiology before joining the faculty at the Naval Medical Center in San Diego. He then completed several clinical and administrative leadership assignments at overseas military hospitals in Asia and Europe and served as vice chairmen and education director of anesthesiology at Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences as well as acting chairmen of the Department of Anesthesiology at National Naval Medical Center during the Iraq and Afghanistan war. He served as specialty leader to the Navy Surgeon General, providing worldwide management of anesthesiology and pain management services for the Navy and Marine Corps during the height of the conflict. After completion of a pain medicine fellowship, he was assigned as deputy program manager for the Navy Comprehensive Pain Management Program as well as operational lead for Navy and Marine Corps program execution in western United States and the pacific theater. He developed and served as director of Navy Medicine’s first operationalized Functional Restoration Pain Program. He retired from the U.S. Navy and joined the University of Washington as an associate clinical professor and chief of pain services at Harborview Medical Center in September 2014.

Ivan Lesnik when he was starring for the Arizona football program


Ryan Stewart

Stewart, 6-foot-4 and 305 pounds, is a redshirt junior who transferred from San Jose State after Brennan moved from there to be Arizona’s coach. He did not make an appearance with the Spartans last season. In 2022, he started in three games and in 2021, he did not see any action. While at Lincoln Way-East High School in Frankfurt, Ill., he was on a team that ranked No. 4 in the state in 2018, No. 1 in 2019, and No. 2 in 2020 by MaxPreps. Fun facts: Paul Stewart, his uncle, is enshrined in the United States Hockey Hall of Fame and is the first American to officiate more than 1,000 National Hockey League (NHL) regular season games. Great grandfather Bill Stewart (1895-1964) was the first American-born coach to lead a team to a Stanley Cup championship as the head coach of the 1938 Chicago Blackhawks and was a Major League Baseball umpire in the National League from 1933 to 1954.


An informal poll on Twitter (X) revealed that Arizona fans are looking forward to the Wildcats playing Oklahoma State the most among new Big 12 opponents. Arizona and Oklahoma State do not play in the regular season this fall but could meet in the conference championship game. BYU was next on the poll followed by Texas Tech, TCU and Kansas State.


ESPN analysts Jordan Rodgers during the Alamo Bowl broadcast compared Noah Fifita to Patrick Mahomes for his ability to extend plays while improvising.

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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