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Arizona center Josh McCauley reflects on slapping Ed Oliver’s head

josh-maccauley-arizona-wildcats-center-offensive-line-scholarship-2019-spring-practice Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images

The Arizona Wildcats’ loss to Houston was an ugly, one-sided affair but UA center Josh McCauley provided some much-needed levity by making a heady play that ultimately went viral.

When All-American defensive tackle Ed Oliver jumped into the neutral zone, McCauley wisely made contact with the Houston DT to draw a five-yard penalty.

And how did he make contact? By slapping Oliver’s helmet.

“We’re coached to touch them if they cross the line of scrimmage, so that’s what I did,” McCauley said. “It was a natural movement. I shot out my arm and that’s where it hit.”

And when you hit an All-American in the head, people take notice.

“I got off the field and saw my phone was going off, a bunch of stuff from ESPN,” McCauley said. “I was like ‘what could this be?’ On the field I didn’t even think of it, but I guess they liked it.”

Oliver is projected to be a top pick in next April’s NFL Draft and McCauley isn’t surprised after getting an up-close look at him.

“He was a great player. He has a good combination of speed, strength, quickness,” McCauley said. “His motor was unbelievable. ... He makes play all over the field, sideline to sideline. That was something we were preparing for.”

Since McCauley is a walk-on (though he is hoping to earn a scholarship), ESPN commentators joked that he was essentially paying his own way to block Oliver. He got a kick out of that.

“I really didn’t pay attention to the ESPN commentators. I didn’t watch the live game after the fact, but I did have people tell me that,” McCauley said. “It’s crazy to think about, but I’m just here to play football.”