Texas A&M transfers Robert Congel and Santino Marchiol have been practicing with the Arizona Wildcats in fall camp, but head coach Kevin Sumlin said Saturday he has “no idea” if they will be eligible to play in 2018.
As of now, Sumlin said, they are not eligible.
Marchiol, a linebacker, redshirted as a freshman last season. The former four-star recruit has been getting reps with the second unit and would provide much-needed depth for the Wildcats.
The Englewood, Colorado native was the No. 17 inside linebacker in the 2017 recruiting class. His primary recruiter was UA offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone, per 247Sports.
“He’s a guy that obviously we recruited at the last place and had a lot of options,” Sumlin said. “He runs well and still had options but he left. So he’s a little closer to home than in Colorado, so he just said today that he really loves it here and is happy here.”
Congel, an interior lineman, appeared in five games as a true freshman with the Aggies last season. He was a walk-on.
Generally, transfers are required to sit out a season before they are eligible to play at their new school, but this is what the NCAA website says about walk-ons:
You may be eligible to compete immediately if you were not recruited by your original school and you have never received an athletics scholarship.
“And” is the key word there. If Congel was recruited to Texas A&M as a preferred walk-on, it seems unlikely he would be able to suit up in 2018. If not, there should be no reason why he can’t play immediately at Arizona.
Congel played guard at Texas A&M but has been getting reps at center this fall. Arizona starting center Nathan Eldridge has had some knee issues, so Congel would be a crucial reserve if he has to miss any time.
“We’re playing him at center, which really helps us because it means that we don’t have to subtract from one of the other positions to fill the center spot,” Mazzone said. “So it gives us more depth. It gives us a little more flexibility at our tackle spot.”
Of course, the Wildcats will be without starting left tackle Layth Friekh for the first two weeks of the season, making the offensive line a major point of concern heading into the Sept. 1 opener against BYU.
“We’ve got three weeks,” Sumlin said when asked how the unit is shaping up. “When Layth comes back, it changes things a lot.”