The Arizona Wildcats received some favorable news Thursday morning, learning that senior left tackle Layth Friekh and wide receiver Shawn Poindexter have been granted a fifth year of eligibility.
One caveat is Friekh is suspended for the first two games of the 2018 season, meaning he will be out against BYU and Houston.
Still, Arizona will happily take that tradeoff as Friekh’s return provides some stability to an offensive line which otherwise is basically one huge question mark heading into the offseason.
Only one other starter, center Nathan Eldridge, is set to return while o-line coach Jim Michalczik departed for Oregon State and his replacement has not yet been named.
Friekh has started in every game the last two seasons and has 33 career starts in total. The Glendale, Ariz. native was presumably given a fifth year of eligibility because he only played in one game as a freshman in 2014.
Arizona LT Layth Friekh on getting another year (but having to sit 1st 2 games) ... "I’m not totally happy about the two-game suspension, but I’m happy to be here another year. It’s worth it to me to come back, better myself and be part of this team one more year."— Michael Lev (@MichaelJLev) December 14, 2017
Poindexter’s return means Arizona will return four of its top five receivers in 2018 (Tyrell Johnson being the only one who won’t return), with Poindexter being the only one with notable size.
The former junior college product has spent two seasons at Arizona, but was nagged by injuries for most of 2016.
This year, the 6-foot-5 Poindexter has 14 catches for 223 yards and a touchdown — his best season to date.
Poindexter only played one season at Glendale Community College before transferring to Arizona, which is why he was granted an extra year.
He is considered a rather raw player, so another year of development and continuity with Khalil Tate could be exactly what he needs for a breakout season.
Arizona WR Shawn Poindexter on getting another year: "It means everything. I needed a year to grow and develop more as a player. This is only my third year playing at the collegiate level. I think it’s huge."— Michael Lev (@MichaelJLev) December 14, 2017
Poindexter and Freikh were teammates at Centennial High School.
Follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter at @RKelapire