Kevin Sumlin spent his 54th birthday getting the ball rolling on preparations for his 30th year of college coaching, 11th as a head coach and first with the Arizona Wildcats. It was an exciting day, but no different than the first day of fall camp at any other stop in his long career.
“It’s exciting every year,” Sumlin said Friday after his 16th official practice with the Wildcats, and the first since spring practice ended months ago. “Everybody’s excited for football. Fans are, coaches are, players are. It’s been excitement every year.”
Arizona is four weeks away from its 2018 opener — a Sept. 1 bout against BYU — which could either seem an eternity away or right around the corner depending on your perspective. Sumlin is somewhere in the middle, recognizing that the foundation was laid during the spring but plenty of work still has to be done in August.
“You can tell there’s some retention from the workouts, from the workouts this summer with the older guys,” he said. “I think this team will be … ever evolving.”
The Wildcats worked out for roughly 90 minutes on Friday, their only equipment being helmets. Shoulder pads will be introduced in the third practice on Monday, with full pads coming into play on Wednesday.
Crowded quarterback room
Junior Khalil Tate is no doubt Arizona’s alpha dog at QB, but who will be his backup? And what’s the lineup like after that? These are questions that still need to be answered, but at least the Wildcats aren’t as worried about just having enough bodies at the position anymore.
Seven quarterbacks were on the field on Friday including freshmen Kevin Doyle and Jamarye Joiner as well as recent addition Luke Ashworth, a Phoenix product.
“We were all worried in the spring about how many we had, remember that?,” Sumlin quipped.
All seven threw passes during the viewing period open to reporters but that isn’t likely to last long.
“The schedule changes as we go through fall camp,” Sumlin said. “We need arms, but as we get through camp obviously they can’t all get reps.”
Pardon our dust
Construction of Arizona’s long-desired indoor practice facility has led to cramped quarters for training camp. On Friday the Wildcats worked out on a pair of half-sized fields just east of where the indoor field will be on the site of the former baseball stadium.
Sumlin said it’s not an ideal situation but “worth it” for what Arizona will get to use when the work is done.
“I went through this at the last place,” he said, referring to Texas A&M. “We were redoing the stadium. You can’t have everything overnight.”
Missing in action
Among those not at practice Friday were cornerback Tim Hough and punter Dylan Klumph, graduate transfers who are in the process of being formally admitted into their respective graduate programs and thus cannot practice until that happens. It is expected both will become eligible to practice next week.
Klumph, who began his career at Cal, averaged 42.96 yards per punt last season to rank fourth in the Pac-12. He is expected to be Arizona’s starting punter this fall.
Hough, from UNLV, was recently added to the Wildcats’ roster after originally committing to play this year at Oregon.
Sophomore safety Scottie Young Jr. did not practice Friday and Sumlin had no update on his status. Young, who was arrested last September in a domestic violence incident, was suspended in the spring.
All (about) access
Prior to the start of camp, Arizona released a media availability schedule along with its practice times for the first 10 days. A pre-selected coach and/or players were identified as the ones that will be able to speak to reporters after workouts.
Because of this Sumlin, who spent about 14 minutes speaking to reporters, isn’t scheduled to address the media again until Aug. 11.
“You need to talk to me every day?,” he asked.
A similar availability was in place during spring ball, and Sumlin said he received plenty of praise from those he came across in the community for allowing less-known coaches and players get a chance to be interviewed.
“The schedule that we put forth is one that people will like,” he said.