Kevin Sumlin has released the first depth chart of the season, and while it is bound to change many times throughout the season, it at least gives us a better idea of what we’ll be seeing on Saturday.
Here are my thoughts on the depth at each position.
So K’Hari Lane has maintained the No. 2 role from spring, sort of, and then we won’t really know anything more until Sumlin throws QB3 out there for the first time.
For now, Lane is your guy if Tate has to leave for a series that doesn’t have any redshirt implications of having to burn a game for Kevin Doyle or Jamarye Joiner. But it might not be surprising to see Rhett Rodriguez out there as No. 2 as well.
Arizona might not even get a chance to play a backup quarterback until week three for Southern Utah, and by then the depth chart could look entirely different here.
A big omission here is Nathan Tilford, who isn’t even running back three. That role belongs to Anthony Mariscal, who had an impressive spring after switching from safety and could be in line for a couple of carries a game.
He was absolute work horse back in high school and while it appears Tilford just can’t grasp the overarching role of running back, Mariscal is still a good third back that can alleviate the load.
Maybe Arizona’s second weakest position, there is a lot going on here for a really young group.
Drew Dixon listed as a No. 2 is a pleasant surprise. The dude is a pure athlete and played just about every position at Sabina High School, but I worried about how long it would take him to polish as a true threat. He’s big, strong, physical and has decent speed, and his development seems to be coming along nicely.
Tre Adams comes in as a No. 3, and between the three freshmen of Adams, Thomas Marcus and Josh Szott, he is the most polished. He has a very similar skill set to Cayleb Jones and will be a very productive receiver for the next four years. I’m really excited to see what he can do and how much he can play this season.
Not making the list is the aforementioned Thomas Marcus. He might be one of the most athletic guys on the team, but he’s a still a little raw and I think he can get a little greedy trying to pull off one-handed catches and highlight reel plays. Long-term, he is Arizona’s best prospect, but right now it looks like he needs some time.
It’s a little surprising to see Jailen Bailey. I’m not so sure how much or if we see him this season since there are some really good options at slot ahead of him, like Stanley Berryhill III and Brian Casteel, who had great camp performances.
A true freshman I’m excited and surprised to see here is Zach Williams. He’s a recruit I was really high on that has great size and speed, playing like a hybrid tight end and receiver. Based on his designation of slot, he’ll likely serve more of an h-back role, much like Terrence Miller did a few years ago, who is another player comparison I like to give. He might not play a lot, but still impressive to see the true freshman.
Nice to see Devaughn Cooper in the mix as well, who was in the doghouse under Rich Rodriguez once he left the team briefly last summer. I’m not sure how long Cedric Peterson holds his starting role, so we might see Dixon or Cooper get in there for some big roles.
Bryce Wolma is going to be your go-to guy for in-line blocking and short passing game. Jamie Nunley is going to give you more of a vertical threat. Where Jake Peters falls for playing time, we’ll see.
A whole new starting five for Arizona does not fill me with optimism, and I’ll try not to beat this concern into the ground.
True freshman Donovan Laie will be getting the nod at left tackle. He seemed to have a great camp, battled an injury but appears to be ready for the first two games of the season. A true freshman on Tate’s blindside is a bold move.
But no Michael Eletise, the former four-star recruit and top recruit of the 2016 class. It’s a bit disappointing that he has not cracked the line up, especially with a weak offensive line this year. I think having Lukusa slide down to guard says more about Eletise than Lukusa being versatile, but there’s still plenty of time.
And no Nathan Eldridge, either. It could be a while until we see him. He has been battling some knee issues and for the past two weeks I’ve been told it doesn’t look good for the season. Alex Kosinski is also battling health issues. So enter Josh McCauley, walk-on starting center.
The right side of the line is in a much better state with Bryson Cain and Cody Creason.
Defensive end is interesting, because there is no My-King Johnson, a studly 6-foot-4 227 pounder with a lot of really good traits. It appears Jalen Cochran had a really good camp. JB Brown won’t wow you on the stat sheet, but he fills his assignment and does the right thing.
Nose guard appears to have no changes from expectation, nor does defensive tackle. There is no Sione Taufauhema, who you wish could be utilized due to his size but it appears as if the defensive line is ready to move on without him.
Jalen Harris as the No. 2 stud was inevitable, it was just a matter of how much the staff favored his potential to Lee Anderson III’s experience. I’ll always make the argument that he is Arizona’s best pure pass rusher.
A slight position change, where Issaiah Johnson is now at will originally slotted as a middle linebacker. He can play both, and I think Pandy might be further along than Colacion in terms of depth, but Johnson can be an interchangeable piece if he needs to play.
Tristan Cooper will come back in at spur after taking a back seat to Dane Cruikshank last season. My favorite commit from the 2015 class, I think Cooper really gets back to his confident, downhill style of play. It is surprising, and good, to see Xavier Bell on the chart, but Dayven Coleman will be a guy to watch and we’ll likely see him in action Week 1.
Just want everyone to know that Christian Young is good and will push Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles to be even better in his final season. Young is going to be an impact player at Arizona all four years.
Isaiah Hayes has the starting nod over Jarrius Wallace at free safety, which was surprising to me. Hayes battled a concussion his freshman year and now is coming off shoulder surgery. You hope he is 100 percent and can go back to his freshman self. Wallace really made a name for himself last season after Scottie Young Jr. battled injuries, but the staff favors a healthy Hayes.
I get a feeling that as soon as Young’s Week 1 suspension is over, he’s going to be taking on a big role for Week 2.
The only scholarship safety left on the depth chart is Rhedi Short, which just goes to show how deep that position is.
Corner is interesting.
Arizona recovered a bit after losing Jhevon Hill and Tony Wallace, likely you’re No. 2 and 3 corners, and it’s not as bad as I once thought because of the progression of the new guys. McKenzie Barnes and Tim Hough will be nice additions, and I think Hough could push for a starting role.
No Sammy Morrison or Malcolm Holland, two guys who were rumored to sustain injuries that could hold them out this season.
Troy Young is so good at football that he could play will, bandit or corner with ease. My concern is speed, and if he can keep up with some Pac-12 receivers.
On to special teams, it’s still clear that Lucas Havrisik will take on the kickoff and field goal units. Dylan Klumph will improve Arizona’s punting. It’s also good to see Nick Reinhardt back and it took an ACL tear last season to figure out his value.
Shun Brown at punt return always yields big play potential.
Kickoff return seems to have a hodgepodge of players but all really solid. Interesting to see J.J. Taylor back there, since you’d figure you want him as fresh as possible. I’d love to see the duo of Gary Brightwell and Stanley Berryhill III back there.