The Arizona Wildcats and head coach Rich Rodriguez played just six true freshmen Friday night against UNLV, and from the looks of it, that'll be the extent of new faces on campus seeing game time in 2014.
"Part of it is quite a few of 'em aren't ready yet," Rodriguez said. "And some of 'em we have more upperclassmen returning in different spots with transfers and guys returning. But I still think there's going to be another couple years where we play more freshmen then we probably want to."
One true freshman who made a big impact in Arizona's first game was running back Nick Wilson.
"It was really incredible," Wilson reminisced. "I can't really describe how excited I was. I thought I was going to handle it a little bit better. I didn't think it was going to be as impressive as it was. It was definitely everything I ever could have imagined."
"It was a great experience," wide receiver Tyrell Johnson added. "It's something new because I was in prep school last semester. It was something different from high school to that level."
While Johnson got his first career reception early in the second quarter, Wilson got his first career carry midway through the third quarter. On his fifth rushing attempt, he busted an 85 yard TD run for his first college touchdown.
"I was tired, I ain't gonna lie," Wilson joked. "It was pretty incredible. I was just following what coach (Calvin) Magee had said. Pressed the A-gap, went through the A-gap, shot through, and it was just a foot race from there."
"I knew he was gonna go to the house," explained center Steven Gurrola. "It was just 3-on-3. Our left tackle, left guard and I had the linebacker by myself. And I knew Nick, I saw him right behind me, and I was like 'he's gone'. I seen it happening, I was just ready to go."
"They're the most important piece of the offense to me," Wilson added about the O-line. "Can't go anywhere without the offensive line. I thanked every one of them after my touchdown. You can't go anywhere without your offensive line."
At the end, Wilson was kind of going all over the place, and RichRod coined that as the "Nintendo Weave" play after the game.
"I was just trying to get away from people," said Wilson. "I couldn't see where the defender was at the time. I was trying to look at the screen and I forgot that the screen has a little delay as well, so I just dived in to be sure and be safe."
That touchdown got Nick trending on Twitter in the United States.
"All my friends and family back home were blowing me up on Twitter, texts, calling and stuff saying they saw me on TV."
"It was pretty overwhelming, I'm not gonna lie. It was kinda hard trying to respond back to everybody. But I thanked everybody, retweeted every comment on Twitter, took my time to do that. It was pretty amazing."
As far as the rest of the season goes, Wilson said he'll continue to look up to Terris Jones-Grigsby and Jared Baker.
"They've been helping me out tremendously throughout this entire camp, and through the practices and everything. I couldn't have made it nearly as far as I have without them."
"They're all kind of the same guy," Rodriguez added about the backs as a group. "Nick Wilson's one of the faster ones, but Baker's pretty fast. But really, they're all more similar than different."
The other true freshmen that played Friday were offensive lineman Layth Friekh, running back Jonathan Haden, cornerback Cam Denson, and tight end Trevor Wood, although it sounds like we may see Wood on the other side of the ball in the near future.
"He's playing both ways," Rodriguez said of the younger Wood brother. "He's gonna play a little defense, and still play tight end. We didn't use the tight end but maybe 40% of the time in the last game, and we're rolling three of 'em. So he'll probably play a little more defense going forward (at defensive end)."
"He's a big athletic guy," coach continued. "He's playing as a true freshman, which is a good thing, and he's still learning and still getting strength. A good off-season, a good summer. I think he's gonna be a guy who plays a lot of football for us on both sides."
These six guys will be crucial for this team this year, and the next couple years down the road. And it doesn't seem like it's getting to them at all.
"We just try and go out there the best way we could," Johnson said. "We don't try to make it bigger than it actually is. We just go out there and play football."