As of now, the Arizona Wildcats are set to graduate four starters from their offensive line following the 2017 season.
But that number could be reduced to three as starting left tackle Layth Friekh has applied for a fifth year of eligibility, according to Michael Lev of the Arizona Daily Star.
Friekh’s argument is that he only played in one game as a freshman back in 2014, thus that should count as a pseudo-redshirt year.
That stance seems more than fair, but the NCAA isn’t exactly lenient when it comes to these things, so it’s unclear if Friekh’s request will be granted. Mostly though, that’s an error on the UA coaching staff for burning Friekh’s redshirt for one game.
Getting Freikh back for another season would obviously be massive for Arizona’s future. The left tackle has started in 32 games the last three seasons and would give the Wildcats a second returning starter on their offensive line in 2018. Right now, redshirt sophomore center Nathan Eldridge is the only one slated to return next season.
Starting left guard Christian Boettcher was originally set to return in 2018 too, but he decided to forgo his redshirt senior season to begin law school.
Experience matters at some positions more than others, but it is especially crucial at offensive line, and having to break in four new starters at once would certainly not be ideal for Arizona.
Follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter at @RKelapire