The Arizona Football timeline was humming along, with their struggles — as bad as they may have been — barely resonating outside of Tucson. The team was coming off arguably the most depressing loss in program history and needed a new coach.
Many names were rumored, and when Jedd Fisch got the job a sizeable portion of the fan base was not pleased. Months later you’ll be hard-pressed to find a disappointed Cat.
Turns out Arizona giving Fisch the job was a Nexus Event, because from that moment the timeline branched off into what we are experiencing now, which is arguably the best offseason in program history.
Fisch is a Variant, someone who you never would have thought Arizona would have come across. He then brought in another Variant in Noah Fifita and, well, while their teaming up was a low-key good move we all know what can happen when a pair of Variants get together with a common goal in mind.
A 3-star quarterback out of Anaheim, California, Fifita is a unique and opportune get for the Wildcats. With a ranking held back by his stature, the acclaimed passer choosing Arizona put the program on a path to add even more talent, with his Servite teammate Keyan Burnett flipping from USC to Arizona. Another teammate, receiver Tetairoa McMillan, was strongly considering Arizona before choosing Oregon, which was his dream school.
Adding Burnett was a coup, while nearly snagging McMillan is a moral victory that some feel still has a chance to become even more.
Odds are none of it would have been possible without Fifita choosing the cardinal and navy first.
In Fifita the Cats have one of the best quarterback prospects in the country, someone who can be easily viewed as the future of the program. He is accurate while boasting a strong arm and lacks nothing in terms of football IQ or leadership abilities.
The promise Fifita offers is accentuated by the current quarterback competition. While any one of Gunner Cruz, Will Plummer or Jordan McCloud could be an effective starter, thus far none have seemed to take hold of the job. Fifita won’t arrive until next season, but the knowledge that he is waiting in the wings could serve to motivate the passers already on the roster and satisfy a fan base that may be unimpressed with what it sees on the field in 2021.
The future may very well be Fifita’s, and if that’s the case it’s hard not to feel pretty good. As for the present, he is the kind of quarterback skill players want to play with, which should help as Arizona looks to finish up its 2022 recruiting class.
Time will tell how good of a recruiter he is, though if he’s even half as good as his mother then the Cats should be just fine.
Until Fifita arrives on campus he offers promise and credibility to a coaching staff that is virtually swimming in it. While Fifita is not a 5-star prospect and his offer list doesn’t necessarily jump out at you, there is a pretty convincing case to be made that he was under-recruited before choosing Arizona.
That’s exactly the kind of player the Cats need right now. It would be nice if they could go about collecting four and five-star talents, but that cannot be expected so early in the new staff’s tenure. Generally you would think a team needs to win before it can add superior talent, but it’s difficult to add superior talent until you win.
Still, despite everything seemingly working against it, Arizona is putting together a pretty solid recruiting class. Fifita is not its highest-ranked player, but he is the most important. The timeline his addition has put us on is one that offers much promise, simply because he is leading the way.
With Fifita, there is belief.
Belief that Fisch can identify and acquire talent. Belief that the coach’s system is flexible enough to allow for said talent to not need to fit into a box or mold. Belief that no matter what happens this season, quarterback play will not be an issue in the coming years.
Burnett would not have committed to Arizona if he was worried about who would be throwing him the ball, and McMillan wouldn’t have even looked at Arizona unless he was confident he could succeed in Tucson.
That starts with Fifita, and Fifita isn’t on board without Fisch. The two of them will be linked together, and if years from now Arizona is a successful program it will likely be due to the pair being perfect fits for not only Tucson, but each other.