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‘Meritocracy’ will determine which Arizona players get No. 1 jersey

Arizona Spring Game Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

With more than 100 players on the preseason roster, Arizona has quite a few duplicate jerseys numbers. But there are also some completely unused digits, most notably No. 1.

That will change by the end of training camp, when coach Jedd Fisch plans to award No. 1 to one or two players who have won a competition that began long before they knew they were in it.

“It’s a meritocracy,” Fisch said at Pac-12 Media Day. “No. 1 jersey. Whoever does the best academically, socially, with community service, on the practice field, in the weight room, will be able to wear that jersey for the season.”

Fisch, who doesn’t consider himself “a big jersey number guy,” said at least nine Wildcats have asked to wear No. 1, which was last worn by wide receiver Drew Dixon and linebacker Tony Fields II. The home version of the jersey currently hangs above the entrance on the inside of the Davis Sports Center.

“It’s kind of never been anything that I’ve been really excited about,” Fisch said Wednesday, during Arizona’s Media Day. “So, as we talked as a staff on how to handle that, we said, ‘well how about you earn it.’ And that comes from offseason, academics, community service, strength and conditioning and training camp mentality. And if you’ve won on all four levels there, then you’ll have a chance to take that No. 1 jersey. So we’ve got nine guys in the sweepstakes right now. I told them, if someone changes their mind and they want to join it, they can join it, but they’ve got to be high GPA, high community service hours, never miss a workout, improve tremendously on their strength, drop their body fat, and compete in training camp.”

Which players are competing to wear No. 1? That remains mostly a secret, though during football Media Day it was discovered by KVOA’s David Kelly that linebacker Kenny Hebert, a transfer from Vanderbilt who is currently wearing No. 18, is among the candidates.

Who do you think should wear No. 1 for Arizona, and why?