The Arizona Wildcats have completed fall camp. Here are five players who helped their stock with a strong performance.
Tayvian Cunningham, wide receiver
The track star was mostly a speed threat under former head coach Kevin Sumlin, seeing almost all of his catches come on bubble screens and go routes. Now, Cunningham has an expanded route tree in Jedd Fisch’s offense that should allow him to showcase more of his skills as a receiver.
Cunningham, who added six pounds off muscle this offseason, was often the go-to target for UA quarterbacks in fall camp. He was created separation in underneath routes in addition to making plays down the field.
With Jamarye Joiner being out until at least Week 3 with a foot injury, Cunningham could have a huge workload early in the season. And yes, he’s still a threat in the return game, too.
Alex Lines, tight end
Arizona’s new pro-style offense will incorporate tight ends in the passing game, and Lines—a second-year freshman transfer from UNLV—is already No. 2 on the depth chart behind fifth-year senior Bryce Wolma.
Lines was coached by new tight ends coach Jordan Paopao at UNLV, which allowed him to pick up Arizona’s terminology quickly. Lines did not have any catches with the Rebels last season, but was a top-25 tight end in the country coming out of Gilbert’s Higley High School.
“I think you just see maturity, just in terms of weightlifting, being stronger, knowing a lot of the buzzwords,” Paopao said. “You see him playing really fast. With a COVID season that didn’t count for eligibility, he’s technically a true freshman, so to be able to have a kid that already knows some buzzwords and is able to know how things look and how we should feel, I think it’s an unbelievable deal to be able to add him to our group right now.”
Treydan Stukes, cornerback
Stukes was one of three UA defensive players to earn a scholarship this August, the others being safety Jaydin Young and viper Rourke Freeburg. Stukes has emerged as Arizona’s No. 3 cornerback behind Isaiah Rutherford and Christian Roland-Wallace. Rutherford got nicked up at the end of camp, allowing Stukes to run with the first-team defense in Saturday’s scrimmage.
Stukes saw extended action in last year’s Territorial Cup, racking up a career-high seven tackles in the loss to ASU.
“He’s long, can run, the track background really helps,” said UA cornerbacks coach DeWayne Walker. “He has good burst, good vertical. I mean, he has all the tools to be a really good player, so he just has to continue to get stronger and just continue to develop. I think the kid has a great future.”
Rashie Hodge Jr., linebacker
Arizona completely revamped its linebacking corps with a slew of transfers, and most impressive of them all has been Hodge, formerly of New Mexico State. Hodge has the burst to make plays at the line of scrimmage but has also flashed in coverage during fall camp.
“He’s fast and explosive,” Fisch said. “He’s showing up, he’s working his tail off and showed up here and said, ‘Coach, I just want to be a part of this team.’ And you watch him every day, and you watch his excitement, his energy, how quickly he hits, it’s pretty impressive how he hits the hole and I think he’s gonna be a big benefit to have on our team.”
It shouldn’t come as that much of a surprise, as Hodge was very productive at NMSU. He recorded 90 tackles as a junior in 2019, including a team-high 10 tackles for loss. Hodge did not play in 2020 because the Aggies sat out the fall season due to COVID-19.
Mo Diallo, defensive lineman
Diallo was one of the latest additions to the roster, joining the Wildcats in August after working on a fishing boat in Spain. The 6-foot-5, 285-pound senior made his presence known from the moment he stepped on campus, quickly ascending to the top of the depth chart.
Like Hodge, Diallo has been highly productive at the collegiate level before. Last season at Central Michigan, Diallo had three sacks and 9.5 tackles for loss in just five games.
“Mo’s a special player,” Fisch said. “He had quite the summer. He knows how to shed some blocks, he knows how to use his hands. He’s what you want that position to look like. He can play all four spots on the defensive line. There’s no question that he’ll be a starting defensive player for us.”