Gary Brightwell has moved around quite a bit over the past two years, whether it be traveling across the country from Pennsylvania to play for the Arizona Wildcats or shifting back and forth between different offensive position groups.
When Arizona opens the 2018 season on Saturday night against BYU we might finally get to see how Brightwell moves in a game situation, and with the ball in his hands.
“Hopefully I play,” Brightwell said Tuesday, seemingly unaware of the fact offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone and several teammates have noted his progress during the offseason.
The 6-foot-1, 206-pound sophomore is expected to be Arizona’s No. 2 tailback to start the season behind sophomore J.J. Taylor. That’s the position he was recruited to Tucson to play but where he’s yet to get a touch, instead seeing the field only on special teams last year as a true freshman.
Brightwell spent most of last season working as a slot receiver, a move he requested because Arizona was “kind of backed up at running back” with Taylor, Nick Wilson, Zach Green and Nathan Tilford getting all the work. But when he returned to the team this spring, the new coaching staff had decided RB was where he was most needed with Wilson and Green graduating.
“I didn’t have a choice,” he said. “I came back and I was in the running back room. That’s what I’m going to be. I can honestly play receiver and I can running back. It’s a blessing. Wherever the coaches put me, I can play regardless.”
Though he never recorded any numbers at the slot, Brightwell’s time there and the skills he picked up could pay off this fall. It’s expected that Arizona will utilize its running backs in the pass game more often after that group logged just 13 receptions in 2017.
Brightwell said he expects as such, but that’s still not the main priority for he and other ball carriers on pass plays.
“Protection is the most important for the running backs,” he said.
Brightwell is the second most-famous athlete Arizona has recruited out of Chester, Pa., the first being Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. The Wildcats were one of just two FBS programs to offer him a scholarship, nearby Temple the other.
The lack of offers isn’t motivation, Brightwell said.
“You can have the most offers in the world but you can only pick one at the end of the day,” he said.
Here’s Arizona Football running back Gary Brightwell on his role in the offense, moving back from wide receiver and morePosted by AZ Desert Swarm on Tuesday, August 28, 2018