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Arizona football: Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles doesn't miss a beat after year away from football

Did this guy really not play high school football last year?

Jason Bartel

2014 was an interesting year for freshman safety Demetirus Flannigan-Fowles to say the least.

After transferring from Tucson High to Mountain View for his senior season, Flannigan-Fowles was ruled ineligible, as was Mountain View, after some things were discovered in the process of bringing a couple of transfers to the school.

"I couldn't bare not playing," he said on Sunday. "I've always wanted to be on the field, and when it gets taken away from you, you realize how much you love it."

"I was always sad on Friday nights because I couldn't play. I was sitting on the sideline. I hated it."

"It gave me extra motivation to prove to people that high school football does not hold me back at all," he continued. "I kind of embraced it and worked harder every day that I could prove to people that I'm not held back at all. That I'm not a joke."

But that was just the start of it. When signing day rolled around, his name was not announced with the rest of the signing class, signalling that he may be greyshirting, and not joining the team until after 2015.

Up until the beginning of the Summer II session at Arizona, Flannigan-Fowles had not been cleared academically by the NCAA.

"It had to do with my GPA and my ACT scores," the freshman explained.

When he was cleared, there still needed to be room on the roster to add him, and that's exactly what happened.

"One, we needed to know he was going to qualify, which we weren't sure til the end," Rich Rodriguez said of the process of bringing him in this semester. "And two, we had to have a spot, which came open, and so I asked our defensive staff and said 'Man, we could still use some help in the secondary'."

"And even though he didn't play last year, we thought, well, the reason we wanted him is because he's a tall, long, athletic kid, and let's bring him in."

"I got cleared by the NCAA and (the coaches) were like 'We gotta get you in', and they got me in," Flannigan-Fowles added. "They told me on a Friday, and I was here on a Monday. It was that quick. I was like 'Oh wow' it was that quick of a transition, and it's been a blessing that they've been able to bring me in this year and put me in a position where I can get some playing time."

And in a position to get some playing time is certainly where the true freshman finds himself coming out of fall camp.

"We're really excited about Demetrius," Rodriguez said. "Boy he's picked it up quickly."

"Even though we weren't sure he'd be here this fall, he's a local kid so he was around," coach added. "So he knew how things operated, but he's learned really quickly. He'll be able to help us some this year, but in the coming years he'll be even better."

"He's getting a lot of reps, and he's going to be on the travel squad, and he's going to be on special teams, and I think he's going to play some defense."

"It's a blessing that Coach Rod believed in my ability and continues to believe in my ability," the safety said. "Being able to compete, and filling in for Jamar when he's tired, and fill that void."

Right now, it seems like Flannigan-Fowles may end up being Jamar Allah's backup when the senior needs a break.

"I've just been in that one free safety spot," he said. "Jamar has taken me under his wing. He's kind of like my big brother. He's always looking out for me, and telling me what I need to do to be in the right position. Telling me what I need to do so I can be ready to play on Saturday and Thursday nights. He just helped me out with a lot of things."

"To me he's just like me in that he's pretty rangy and he's fast," Allah said of his understudy. "He's always ready to learn and willing to put in the work. He's just pretty raw, and he's going to get a lot better and he's going to be a pretty big name in the upcoming years."

Even though it seems like he has dealt with the college game well, fall camp hasn't been all roses and lollipops for Flannigan-Fowles.

"It's been real," Demetrius said of his camp experience. "This offense is a great offense, and I'm sure everybody in the country knows it. The speed really hit me on Saturday. I was like 'Whoa', and they're telling me I need to get into shape because this offense is moving down the field."

"It was kind of like wow. I hope other teams don't play like this."

He may not have played football last season, but it's looking like Demetrius is going to make up for it and then some this season, whether it's on special teams or in the secondary.