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Grant Gunnell named Arizona’s best returning player by Pro Football Focus

The sophomore quarterback fared well as a freshman

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Arizona v USC Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images

It’s no secret that sophomore Grant Gunnell will be the Arizona Wildcats starting quarterback in 2020.

The then-freshman split reps with Khalil Tate down the final stretch of the 2019 season, and with Tate graduating this spring, it makes for a natural transition for Gunnell to take over the reigns full-time.

It is a role Gunnell has already shown he is well-suited for, too. The 6-foot-6 gunslinger completed 65 percent of his passes for 1,239 yards, nine touchdowns and just one interception as a freshman, showing great poise despite having to play through some tough conditions such as having a makeshift offensive line.

Pro Football Focus recently graded Gunnell as Arizona’s best returning player in 2020:

With the departure of Khalil Tate, Gunnell will be in as Arizona’s starting signal-caller. We saw him take 185 dropbacks in his true freshman 2019 season, and he impressed on those by recording an 85.4 passing grade and a turnover-worthy play rate that would be among the best in the country if he qualified (just two turnover-worthy plays overall).”

In the spring, Gunnell credited his lack of turnovers to an extensive knowledge of the offense.

“If you have all the answers, you know where you’re going with the ball,” he said. “You’re not having any second guesses.”

There is no second guessing who Arizona’s QB1 is right now either. Only one other quarterback on the roster has game experience (Rhett Rodriguez). Still, Gunnell emphasized that he is ready to compete for the spot even though it’s clearly his to lose.

“That’s honestly what drives me,” he said. “It’s never set in stone. I mean, if I play bad, I’m not gonna play.”

For more on the former four-star recruit, check out my feature from the spring. Gunnell talked about the benefits of playing early, his toughest moment as a freshman, and lots of other things.