Arizona’s defense currently is under construction after finishing 113th in total defense last season.
However, Wildcats coach Rich Rodriguez said at Pac-12 Media Day that he’s most “excited” about Arizona’s linebacker core this season.
“The position that I’m excited about even though there’s going to be some new guys playing is at linebacker,” Rodriguez said. “We got really thin there the last two years.”
Arizona lost Paul Magloire Jr. to the NFL draft and Cody Ippolito, who transferred to Utah in January. The Wildcats return senior linebacker DeAndre’ Miller, who was expected to speak at media day, but broke his foot and was replaced by defensive lineman Luca Bruno.
Over the last two seasons, one of the most troubled positions for Arizona was linebacker. Players battled injuries, which resulted in either moving a defensive back or even starting walk-ons.
The Wildcats also return Brandon Rutt, Carrington Vaughn and Gavin Robertson Jr., but will experiment with freshmen immediately according to Rodriguez.
“We’ve got about six or seven new linebackers that are probably going to play, but I’m not nervous about it, because they’re more talented than what we’ve had there,” Rodriguez said.
Freshmen Tony Fields, Jose Ramirez, Colin Schooler, Joshua Brown, Anthony Pandy and My-King Johnson are other potential candidates to compete for a starting role at either outside or middle linebacker.
Check out what Rodriguez said about his linebacker group for this season:
You heard it here first, @CoachRodAZ is excited for his linebacker class!
— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) July 26, 2017