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Arizona football hires Chuck Cecil to be Director of Player Development

The former ‘Cat is coming home

Tennessee Titans 2008 Headshots Photo by Getty Images

The Arizona Wildcats have hired Chuck Cecil to be the football program’s new Director of Player Development, it was announced Friday.

Cecil, a UA alum, played safety at Arizona from 1984-1987 and was ranked the program’s second-best player of all-time by the Tucson Citizen.

Cecil is presumably replacing Matt Dudek, who took a job with the Michigan Wolverines earlier in the month.

Here is the press release with more information:

Former Arizona football star safety and National Football Foundation College Hall of Fame member Chuck Cecil has been hired as the program’s Director of Player Personnel, head coach Rich Rodriguez announced Friday. Cecil will begin work next week with the Wildcats, who report to preseason camp Sunday evening and hold their first official practice on Monday.

“Chuck will be an outstanding addition to our staff,” Rodriguez said. “His playing career both collegiately and professionally speaks for itself, and he’s been a very successful professional coach. I’m excited to utilize his experience and connections as a former Wildcat to fill a variety of key roles within our program.”

A two-time First Team Academic All-America selection (1986-87), Cecil played for Arizona from 1984 to 1987, first under the late Larry Smith and then under former head coach Dick Tomey for his final year. He began as a recruited walk-on from Helix High School in San Diego, Calif., and finished his UA career as one of the Pac-10's noted and fearless safeties before later being inducted in the College Football Hall of Fame in 2009.

A consensus All-American in 1987, Cecil was the Aloha Bowl MVP and a two-time first-team all-conference selection, plus earned second-team honors as a sophomore. He was named Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year in 1987 and Pac-10 Player of the Week on three occasions.

Off the field Cecil was a three-time Pac-10 All-Academic selection and culminated his education as a recipient of the NCAA VI Award, one of the nation's top scholar-athlete citations. He was named Arizona's male winner of the Pac-10 Conference Medal.

Cecil finished his UA career with the then No. 1 mark in passes defended, 38, which currently is second to Michael Jolivette's 44 from 2000 to 2003. He led the Wildcats with 80 solo tackles his senior year and also posted the school record that season with four interceptions at Stanford.

Today, Cecil still ranks No. 7 on Arizona's all-time tackles chart with a total of 392. Additionally, he holds the Arizona career record with 21 interceptions and among those returned one 100 yards for a touchdown against Arizona State in 1986, a play that likely rests atop many UA partisans' choice as the single-most electrifying and revered moment in UA football history.

Drafted in the fourth round of the 1988 draft by the Green Bay Packers, Cecil spent seven seasons in the NFL with the Packers, Arizona Cardinals and Houston Oilers. He went on to an extensive coaching career under head coach Jeff Fisher, first with the Tennessee Titans from 2001-10 and later the St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams from 2012-16. Cecil was the defensive coordinator for the Titans for the 2009-10 seasons.

To the disapproval of many Arizona fans, the UA football program has not had many alumni around the program recently, so the addition of Cecil will likely be well-received, especially since he appears to be more than qualified for the position.

Arguably, Cecil’s most famous moment at Arizona was a 106-yard pick-six against the Arizona State Sun Devils in 1986.