Now that fall camp is over, let’s take a look at some Arizona Wildcats who appear bound for a breakout season.
Note that this list only includes returning players. Later, we will be listing five newcomers who could make an instant impact.
Jamarye Joiner, WR
2018 stats: 2 GP, 3 completions, 4 pass attempts, 17 passing yards, 7 rushes, 1 rushing yard
Why he’s due: Someone has to emerge in a receiving corps that lost its top four pass-catchers from a season ago, so why not the local kid? The 6-foot-1, 210-pound redshirt freshman has received tons of praise for his athleticism, size and physicality, which is not necessarily something you would expect from a converted QB. So if Joiner can perfect the nuances of the position—route running, releasing off the line, etc.—he has just as much potential as any WR on the roster.
They said it: “He’s a bigger guy than you think he is out there and he’s explosive. He’s probably one of the top two, three athletes on this team. And he’s caught balls in the middle (of the field). The one thing you worry about moving guys out there is will you deal with it in traffic? He’s done it. He’s a competitor, it means something to him, he’s bought in... and I think the relationship with him and Khalil (Tate) in the quarterback room last year helps him a little bit because he likes him.” — head coach Kevin Sumlin
Matt Aragon, P
Career stats: 3 punts for 116 yards
Why he’s due: After four years of being a backup, the fifth-year senior has to beat out two true freshmen—Kyle Ostendorp and Cameron Weinberg—to finally win the starting punting job. The importance of a good punting game can often be overlooked, but not for Arizona fans who have seen some highs and certainly a lot of lows at the position over the years. UA actually fared pretty well last year because of Cal grad transfer Dylan Klumph, and more than likely Aragon will be asked to fill those shoes.
They said it: “It really is night and day. He’s gotten that much better in a year.” — special teams coordinator Jeremy Springer
Edgar Burrola, OL
Career stats: 6 GP
Why he’s due: The redshirt sophomore is in a heated battle with junior college transfer Paiton Fears for the starting right tackle job. Even if Burrola loses that competition, he still would have the important role of being the swing tackle, backing up both Fears and sophomore left tackle Donovan Laie. Burrola has the size to be successful in the Pac-12—he is listed at 6-foot-6, 305 pounds—so it’s just a matter of how much he has improved at the finer details of the position.
They said it: “He’s more focused every day. He’s always had the ability, and I think now that he’s just taking it one day at a time, really gotten the playbook down, focused on this technique, I think that’s where he’s made his biggest jump.” — redshirt senior offensive lineman Cody Creason
Jalen Harris, edge
Career stats: 16 GP, 24 tackles, 4 TFL, 3 sacks, 1 FF
Why he’s due: Harris has given us every reason to believe he is on the verge of becoming a star. He surged late last season when he started the last four games, he followed it up with an extremely strong spring, and he has added considerable strength to his lanky 6-foot-5, 250-pound frame. The Wildcats ranked ninth in the Pac-12 in sacks last season (23), and they need to be much more effective at rushing the passer if they hope to make strides defensively. Fortunately for Harris, that is his bread and butter.
They said it: “We’re looking for big things from Jalen. ... He’s got length and athleticism, had a great spring. He’s really coming on as a pass rusher, and we need him to come on. We hope and we want him to be that guy, the pass rusher that we need to have to pressure...and create havoc.” — Kevin Sumlin
Scottie Young Jr., S
Career stats: 20 GP, 66 tackles, 6.5 TFL, 3 INT, 8 pass breakups
Why he’s due: Young has already experienced some success, but this could be the year he makes the leap from solid player to great player. It is the first time in his UA career that he has gone through spring, summer, and fall camp in the same season. He’s healthy too, after playing through injury last year. Combine that with a better head on his shoulders, and you can see why coaches and teammates have been so high on the safety, who switched his number from 19 to 6 as a symbol of his “reincarnation.”
They said it: “I think Scottie has really upped his game. He’s become a leader, he’s communicating, he’s a much different player, a much different guy than he was when I first got here. Just how he handles himself, how he talks to the players, how he talks to everybody else. I’ve been really pleased with his progress.” — Kevin Sumlin