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Arizona football: Predicting the offensive depth chart

Arizona returns six starters on offense, including the nucleus of Solomon, Wilson and Jones.

Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports


Anu Solomon

Anu Solomon will look to improve on his first year as the starting quarterback for Arizona. This is the first time Rich Rodriguez will have his returning starter at quarterback. Give him two years, and he could be in the Heisman conversation. Maybe.

Jerrard Randall

Maybe we see him from time to time for some special formations and packages out of Rich Rod's offense. Randall will be a great replacement if Anu needs to step out of a series, or even the remainder of a game with a lead. But if Anu Solomon were to go down for an extended period of time, it's up to Randall to step up.

Brandon Dawkins

Considering the depth that Arizona will be getting in the next two years, it seems as if Brandon Dawkins will continue to be pushed to the bottom of the depth charts. Although, at this point, a transfer wouldn't make sense, unless he truly has a desire to play at a Nevada/Fresno State caliber program. He could move up to the No. 2 quarterback next season due to the influx of youth.

Running Backs

Nick Wilson

He's going to be the workhorse for the offense this season, but his touched must be limited early on to keep him fresh all season long. Arizona has plenty of depth to work around Wilson, but none nearly as dynamic and powerful a runner as he is. He's starting to receive some serious attention from across the nation, which hopefully puts the defensive focus on him, allowing Anu to air it out more.

Jared Baker

A reliable, veteran running back, similar to Daniel Jenkins. Can bust out a big run every now and then and doesn't mess up. He was drowned out a bit last year by Nick Wilson and Terris-Jones Grigsby, but now he has the chance to take some of the pressure off Wilson and receive plenty of touches.

Jonathan Haden

Converting from receiver to running back, Jon Haden will have to compete for the third spot. Typically, the third running back hasn't seen a lot of touches under Rich Rodriguez, but with 12 straight games without a bye week, Haden could see some extended looks.

Orlando Bradford

It might be smart for Orlando Bradford to take a redshirt year, but he's got a lot of potential and could emerge as an explosive runner for Arizona. It wouldn't be crazy to think that Bradford could come in immediately and give the backfield a potent one-two punch with Nick Wilson.

Receivers (Outside)

Cayleb Jones

The premier receiver for Arizona. He has the ability to go up for a ball and come down with it. He has to be Anu Solomon's go-to guy this season, coming back to the ball, pulling in the catch with his strength, and bailing Anu out when the pocket collapses.

Trey Griffey/David Richards

To me, Griffey has the most dependable hands. You'll never see him drop a catch or miss something he should have had. A big target with decent speed that can stretch the secondary down the sideline. He's come to be a go to receiver for the out route. David Richards is one of the few Mike Stoops boys left of this time and provides veteran leadership. He's another big target, very similar to Griffey, who will most likely split time with him.

Receivers (Slot)

Samajie Grant/Tony Ellison

Pretty much a do-it-all guy for Arizona, despite his size. He has a rare combination of speed, strength, and route running. All spring long corners named him as the hardest receiver to guard. He should be on track to have an great junior season. A guy that impressed in the spring game, Tony Ellison is a guy who could surprise a few people in the offense. He's definitely a name to look for this season.

Nate Phillips/Tyrell Johnson

Nate Phillips should be back to his normal self again after suffering a broken foot late last season. He could be the beneficiary of the stacked core of receivers in a four-wide set, with so much attention going to Cayleb on the outside and Samajie in the slot. One of the fastest guys in the nation, Tyrell Johnson can stretch the field and be used in many ways. With so many weapons on offense, Rich Rodriguez has the personnel and speed to get creative with sweeps and reverses. With DaVonte' Neal on defense, Tyrell Johnson should take over Neal's reps and more.

Tight Ends

Trevor Wood/Matt Morin

Probably the most polished tight end of the group, he's been in the offense for a while and could get some good looks from Solomon down the seam. At 6-5 250lbs, he's a true tight end that Rich Rodriguez can mix into the offense in the running or passing game. Former quarterback from SDSU, Rich Rodriguez noted that Matt Morin has an arm, and was seen throwing the ball a few times in spring practice. At 6-5, he'll be another big target for Solomon to find. It's his first year with the program so he might be used sparingly, but in such a fast paced offense, he could definitely get some reps between Wood and Kern.

Josh Kern/Darrel Cloy Jr.

Could be a huge vertical threat down the middle of the field. In a three wide set, having Jones, Griffey and Grant, with Kern lined up, he could be a game changer. With some nice talent at tight end, we could see Wood and Kern split time, or even a two tight end set a few times a game. The newest tight end of the group. He has more of a solid frame at 6-2 255lbs. Probably still a little raw coming in as an early enrollee freshman. It might wise just to redshirt him for this year, considering the receiver and tight end combinations that can be pulled off.

Offensive Line

Freddie Tagaloa/Layth Friekh

We'll finally get to see Cal transfer Freddie Tagaloa, 6-6 315lb tackle, protect Anu's blindside. Tagaloa has been receiving a lot of attention lately and could be a pivotal piece to Arizona's offense in his first year as a starter. Layth has the potential to develop into a seasoned veteran on the  offensive line with his progression. He's 6-5 280lbs, which nice to think about going forward.

Jacob Alsadek/Zach Hemmila

The freshman All-American will help project Anu's blindside. At 6-7 300lbs, he's going to be keeping the backfield safe. He's a guy who is already getting NFL evaluations and could help keep the sack numbers down this year for Arizona. Honestly not too sure who else could fill in at left guard, so here's Zach Hemmila's name. He's been in the system for a few years and could be ready to go, just in case.

Carter Wood/David Catalano

Carter Wood has some experience in Arizona's system already as a center, which leads me to believe that he should be the starter. Hopefully this year he doesn't throw up on the ball before sending it back to Anu to throw. Catalano comes in as a graduate transfer, and is also a viable option.

Cayman Bundage/Levi Walton

Cayman Bundage had some issues to end the season last year and might need to get back into game shape, but he'll provide the line with size and experience once again. Levi Walton saw some reps at center this spring, so he's probably one of the next guys in line to see the field for Arizona. He might be drowned out in the center competition, but he could probably fill in at guard, an easier position to handle without making the reads of the center.

Lene Maiava/Jordan Poland/Kaige Lawrence

Maiava will be able to focus on the right tackle position this year, which could help with his consistency. Moving back and forth between right and left guard on a weekly basis was probably tough, but now standing in at 6-5 300lbs, he can help stop the edge rush. Jordan Poland would have been here, but oh well. There doesn't seem to be anyone else who sticks out at right tackle, so here's Kaige Lawrence's name.