A few things stood out to Kevin Sumlin at the Arizona Wildcats’ first day of practice—the energy, the new faces, and the sheer amount of size on the roster.
The Wildcats were laughably thin on both lines during the spring (and last fall, for that matter), but they added several big bodies during the offseason to remedy their dearth of girth.
“We need it and it was no secret because everybody was worried about how many d-linemen we had,” said Sumlin, whose team finished 10th in the Pac-12 in both yards and points allowed per game last season.
Some of those new big bodies include:
- OL Josh Donovan, a 6-foot-5, 317-pound junior
- DL Myles Tapusoa, a 6-foot-1, 330-pound junior
- OL Paiton Fears, a 6-foot-5, 308-pound sophomore
- OL Jordan Morgan, a 6-foot-5, 287-pound freshman
- DL Trevon Mason, a 6-foot-4, 285-pound junior
- DL Kyon Barrs, a 6-foot-2, 299-pound freshman
- OL Jamari Williams, a 6-foot-3, 298-pound freshman
Sumlin also lumped 6-foot-4, 310-pound offensive lineman Robert Congel, a transfer from Texas A&M who sat out last season, into that group as well. The Wildcats are also hoping to add Kane Bradford, a 6-foot-5, 265-pound defensive lineman from Texas who was part of the 2019 signing class but has not yet enrolled.
In the meantime, Sumlin said Arizona’s coaching staff is in a “teaching phase” right now. An evaluative one, too, as it tries to figure out which players—returners and newcomers—will be game-ready come Aug. 24, and which ones need more seasoning.
One thing is for sure: the junior college players are expected to contribute right away. Sumlin quipped at a reporter who asked how important they are to the team’s success.
“Really important. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have recruited them,” he said. “You saw us last year. We need them now. That’s the reason they came here. So it’s not how important, they’re extremely important. ... Some of them for depth, some of them for starting. We need them and they’re all pretty good-sized guys.”
It also helps that a few of them, like Tapusoa and Fears, were with the Wildcats during spring ball. That head start allowed them to bulk up, get familiar with their coaches, and get used to the everyday rigors that come with being a student-athlete.
“That’s valuable experience,” Sumlin said, “and we’re fortunate to have a bunch of guys that came in January.”
Hear what Kevin Sumlin had to say after Arizona Football’s first practicePosted by AZ Desert Swarm on Friday, July 26, 2019