Could Arizona Have A Johnny Manziel?

Brett Davis-US PRESSWIRE

Rich Rodriguez has never shied from playing freshman, so could the next Arizona quarterback be a breakout, first-year star like Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel?

Admit it. You've watched Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel at some point this season and wondered how he would look running Arizona's offense. He's taken the college football world by storm unlike any freshman in recent memory, perhaps the most since Herschel Walker.

With eyes on the next step behind head coach Rich Rodriguez, a worthwhile question is if Arizona can have a Johnny Manziel? The statistics he's recorded are otherworldly, and he's on his way to the first Heisman for a freshman; that's an impossibly high standard to set. But could the next Arizona quarterback be a youngster we have yet to see who arrives with savvy beyond his years?

Just one game remains in Matt Scott's abbreviated-yet-illustrious Arizona career. The impact Scott's decision to return to Tucson after losing the starting quarterback job to Nick Foles had on the inaugural season of the Rodriguez era is profound.

Selling the vision of a program to recruits and a fan base is much more simple with tangible results, and there's no doubt Scott's ability to run Rodriguez's offense was paramount to the Wildcats' success. But his impending departure leaves a glaring question mark as lurid as the red helmets Arizona wore for the Territorial Cup.

The 2013 Wildcat offense will be able to build around Ka'Deem Carey as he continues to scrawl his name all over Arizona record books. And assuming he doesn't leave for the NFL Draft, Austin Hill gives the next quarterback a reliable No. 1 target on which to build the passing attack.

However, and it goes without saying, who that is throwing the ball matters. A lot. Arizona's potent offense is at its best when Scott is clicking, and finding a suitable replacement will determine the 2013 team's success.

Reserve BJ Denker has seen playing time, and his dual threat abilities fit how Rodriguez has modified his zone-read spread option. Whether Denker is ultimately the man for the job, time will tell. Denker will be at the forefront of quarterback conversation when spring practice starts, and Louisiana Tech transfer Nick Isham is sure to command some attention.

And yet, Scott's replacement could be a player yet to take a college field. Recruit Anu Solomon is the star of a very solid crop of verbal commitments for 2013. Solomon has 40 total touchdowns -- 32 passing and eight rushing -- for Bishop Gorman.

Current redshirt Javelle Allen put up his own monster numbers as a prep senior. He's a Texas product, like Manziel, and at Prosper High School did just about everything.

This year's likely Heisman Trophy winner is a quarterback who carries and passes the ball with equal proficiency. Rodriguez will turn over the offense to the Wildcat who can do the same, regardless of experience.

Rodriguez hasn't shied from using first-year quarterbacks in the past. He started Tate Forcier as a true freshman at Michigan, albeit more from necessity than anything else. That wasn't the case for Pat White, though.

White stepped in to guide West Virginia to the Sugar Bowl in the 2005 season. White rushed for the first 952 yards of his NCAA career record 4480 on the ground -- he's still just ahead of another Rodriguez product, Michigan's Denard Robinson for most of any college quarterback.

Rodriguez espouses a philosophy of playing his best performers: walk-ons, youngsters, what have you. Kevin Sumlin adhered to a similar philosophy when he gave his redshirt freshman Manziel the starting nod, and it's paid huge dividends for Texas A&M. Why not Arizona?

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