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What Jedd Fisch, Jacob Cowing and Christian Young said at Pac-12 Football Media Day

jedd-fisch-jacob-cowing-christian-young-pac12-media-day-comments-arizona-football-2022 Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Arizona coach Jedd Fisch, wide receiver Jacob Cowing and safety Christian Young represented the Wildcats at Pac-12 Football Media Day Friday. Here’s what they said from Los Angeles:

Fisch on Southern California as a recruiting base for the program: “It’s great to be back here in Los Angeles for our media day. Lived here for three years. Got to be a part of a winning program, the Los Angeles Rams. … When you have a chance to be in a championship town, it feels good. We’re excited at the University of Arizona to be back here and to be here in Southern California. This is a huge part for our recruiting. We are a California-based recruiting program. We have committed as much time and energy as possible to recruit Southern California and that is our goal moving forward. We have done a really great job with our coaching staff and recruiting the state of Arizona, California and Hawaii. And we will continue to do that and make Southern California a pipeline for the University of Arizona. Heard lot of coaches tell our recruits that we’re an offseason team. I would say this, we have had a great offseason, and I appreciate them recognizing that. I also believe that we’re going to be a really good inseason team. And as we’re building our program, it was really important for all of us to make sure that on November 26 of last year, when our season ended, we needed to get better. We needed to get better in every way. It was our first opportunity to recruit. It was our first signing class. And according to Rivals, I think we finished number one in the Pac-12 According to 247, I think in the top three. We’re very proud of that. We signed the highest ranked player in the history of University of Arizona football in Tetairoa McMillan, right here out of Southern California. Really excited about what he brings, what Keyan Burnett brings, what Noah Fifita brings, what Jacob Manu brings. All four guys from Servite, along with the guys that we signed from Rayshon “Speedy” Luke down there at Bosco, couple of players from Mater Dei and from Oaks as well. So really excited about how we committed to making our offseason pretty special in recruiting and also how we made our offseason pretty special with our facilities.”

On Arizona’s investments to football in the past year: “In the last 15 months, we spent $15 million. Every part of that was to rebrand, enhance and make our facility top in the conference. We’re excited about having a brand-new indoor facility that’s just two years old. And then everything else in our facility has been redone since I’ve arrived. Our athletic director Dave Heeke has done an amazing job of allowing us to do that. I think because of that we were able to also win in the transfer portal. From 1980 to 2000, University of Arizona football won 63% of its games. They were third in the Pac 12 tied with USC during that time. From 2001 to 2021, we did not do that. We were sitting in a situation where we were winning about 45% of our games. We need to change that. And that is our goal and that is what we’ll do. We believe that this year is the first year of the rebuild. We’re really excited about how that’s going.”

On bringing in NFL coaches and leaders to speak to the team: “We talk to our players all the time about being the 33rd NFL team based on our experiences in the league. We have 150 years of NFL experience on our staff and what we’ve done is we’ve tried to commit to allowing our players to see it from the inside out, to see what the NFL looks like, to see what it looks like to be a pro, and to see what it looks like to build champions. We brought Bill Belichick in to Tucson, Sean McVay to Tucson, Steve Spurrier to Tucson to talk to our players. Our players have heard from Zach Taylor, from Jim Nagy at the Senior Bowl, LeCharles Bentley at the NFLPA, Mike Tannenbaum and Mike Lombardi (former NFL executives) over the last seven weeks. We believe that our guys need to know and hear what it’s like to be a pro and what the program should look like.”

On Arizona’s NIL program: “Additionally, in the offseason, we’ve committed to having an incredible NIL program. As of yesterday, our NIL program and our collective is a 501c3. So we’re the second team in the country from what I understand that our donors and our boosters are able to commit funds in a charitable way to our NIL collective, the Friends of Wilbur and Wilma. We are very proud of that. We’re also proud of the fact that our university has come out publicly and say we’re gonna support Alston, and the Alston case with the 5980 funds. We’re gonna allow our players to benefit from their academic successes. Again, we’re excited about all these things that have occurred between November 26 and today. And now when we get started on Wednesday, training camp, it’s now time to build off of those successes.”

On new roster additions and key returners: “We have a bunch of new players and new coaches that have come in through both the coach transfer portal and the player transfer portal. We’re also looking for fans in the transfer portal and boosters. So any of those guys that want to transfer in we’ll take them as well. But when it comes down to our coaches, we brought in Johnny Nansen and we brought in Jason Kaufusi who’ve done a tremendous job with our program and our defense. And then we brought in players like Jayden de Laura, who’s coming in here as one of the best players in the conference last season, the freshman Player of the Year at quarterback. Jacob Cowinng who’s here today at wide receiver, Hunter Echols, defensive end from LA, DJ Warnell, nickel safety from this area, Tiaoalli Savea, and many others. And then finally, I would say that the players that have been here and have been a part of our program have bought in tremendously to the changes that we’re trying to do this year. And we brought Christian Young to this event. He has done an amazing job of leading our defense as a safety .guys like Christian Roland-Wallace and Kyon Barrs and Jaxen Turner have been game changers for us in that locker room, and we’re excited to watch them go. So I believe that everything is in front of us. Champions have to behave like champions before they become champions. We’ve asked our players to behave like them. And now it’s our job and it’s our goal to be better this season than we were last and continue to build off of our offseason.”

What the pitch is like to transfers: “I think they saw that where we were is not where we’re headed, and what they have the opportunity to do is to be a part of the change and to be a part of a program that I believe offers everything you could possibly want in an incredible environment in a beautiful community. An opportunity to play and play early. Guys want to come and be a part of it. And we told those guys, we can help you get to the next level if that’s what you aspire to do. We know what it looks like in a draft room. We know what it looks like when it comes to successes. And additionally we felt as if we needed to get some of those pieces in place. And they felt like they could immediately impact the results.”

What he learned most from last season: “How important it is to be able to compete for all four quarters. For us, our players never stopped playing and never stopped competing. But sometimes our depth beat us, and it was really important for us moving forward that we built our program based on being able to play for all four quarters and 60 minutes. We had a lot of games that we were close, and then it got away from us. And we need to find a way to make sure from 2021 to 2022 that our process is enabling us to be successful by having depth at a lot of positions.”

On whether the staff’s NFL experience is a differentiator when recruiting: “Yeah, I hope so. I think that a lot of people talk about that they can get you to the next level or they know what the next level looks like, but you actually have to be there to know it. I feel like it gives us an opportunity based on the relationships that we have with coaches at the next level to be able to talk with them and kind of see what they’re looking for and see how the trends of the NFL has changed. And as we share our message with our recruits and our players, we’re going to do everything we can to get you a chance to be at the next level and then it’s up to you after that.”

On whether USC and UCLA leaving the Pac-12 changes Arizona’s approach to recruiting Southern California: “I hope what it does is when parents are making decisions on wanting to watch their children play, they don’t have to get on a plane and fly in to Newark, they don’t have to get on a plane and fly in to Iowa, they don’t have to get on a plane and fly in to Ann Arbor. They get to just get in a car and drive five and a half hours. Next thingyou know they’re at Arizona, and then they can be able to watch their sons play right here on the West Coast and right in primetime television. We’re hopeful that that’s gonna be a huge benefit for us going forward.”

On the roster today compared to a year ago: “We’re better. We’re a better football team. The players that were on our roster last year that are on our roster this year have improved. They’ve committed to being better in the weight room, they’ve committed to being better in film study, they’ve committed to being better fundamentally. The players that we’ve been able to bring in, we brought in some good football players. What it looks like come Saturday, September 3 is very different than how I feel right now. We’ll have to see. We’ll have to see if our team can come together in this training camp and how well we can play as a team. And if we can do that, then I think we’ll be a better football team as well.”

Status of Kyonn Barrs and Jamarye Joiner: “I believe both of them will be starting August 3 playing in practice. I think they’re both cleared to go. So I look forward to watching both of them be able to participate. They’ve all done a great job with rehab. We came out here to LA for surgery and use the Rams physician and did a fantastic job in getting both those kids back healthy.”

On what spring practice was like with de Laura and Cowing: “Better than the spring practice the year before, I can tell you that. We were able to hit on a lot of passes. We were able to be explosive. We were able to make plays out there on the field. And it was fun to watch them. It was fun to watch what they did. They connected pretty well together. And then along with that we also had TMac was here this spring and Dorian Singer. So the receiving corps, while young, two and a transfer gives us some hope to be able to be a little more explosive and score a few more touchdowns in the red area.”

On what the team learned from Belichick and McVay: “Both of them are so unique and special in their own ways. I think our players learn the importance of competition in everything you do, and the importance of communication in everything you do. You listen to both those guys speak and they could speak in their own way and say their own words, but their messaging is the same. That it’s about how do you compete every day? How do you communicate every day? And how much better in fundamentals can you get every day? And if you can follow those three things, that was a message from both of them. How they said it, what they said was different but in the end, our staff, myself, and our team all learned that from those guys.”

On Stevie Rocker’s role this season: “I expect him to do one of two things: be one of the best special teams players on our football team, I’ve challenged him to do that, and then to be able to find a role and get the ball as a running back. You want one guy back there as a running back traditionally. We’ve got a pretty deep running back room. We just received a transfer from Florida State (DJ Williams) a few weeks ago, who will be arriving on campus today. We’ve got Michael Wiley returning, Drake Anderson returning, Stevie Rocker returning, Jalen John returning, and then Rayshon Luke and Jonah Coleman arriving. So it’s gonna be a great competition this summer, but every one of them should be committed to being great on special teams.”

On freshmen emerging as leaders: “I would say without a question that you become a leader in a lot of different ways. Sometimes it’s performance based. Sometimes it’s talk. Sometimes it’s actions. Sometimes it’s just kind of presence. We wanted to bring in players that have won games. I think that was a huge part of it. So if you look at our recruiting class and you look at their high school records, they know how to win and you respect it in a locker room if you’re coming from a winning program. Those guys kind of have to immediately impact our program in a lot of ways and their ability to be a winner, and their ability to understand what it takes to be a winner, the process that it goes into becoming a winner and showing that they’re willing to do that will give them the best chance to become leaders quickly. But we have some good veteran leadership of guys that have been in this program over the last few years who have embraced our program and the young guys will need to learn from them as well.”

On being able to sell recruits on NFL background: “I think it comes down to tell the truth. Tell the truth as a coach. Tell the truth. Then if you commit to something, show them that you’re going to do it. If you’re going to tell them that you’re going to be around NFL players and coaches, make sure there’s NFL players and coaches in your building. If you’re gonna tell them that they’re going to have accessibility to some of the greatest in the profession or some of the greatest that have played at Arizona, make sure that they’re there. And if you can actually hit on those targets, and you can actually (follow) those commitments that you made and make them happen, then you’ll earn their trust. So when we tell our guys you’re going to hear from people like Bill Belichick and people like Sean McVay, and then Bill Belichick and Sean McVay walk in your building, then you know that that what you’re telling them in recruiting is not just a sales pitch, but it’s actual reality. And I think that’s what’s been critical for our staff. And that’s where I respect our coaching staff so much.”

On importance of beating regional opponents to build the program’s confidence: “Without a doubt we all understand the importance of winning football games. In the conference, out of the conference, whatever games you scheduled, we’re playing a 12-2 San Diego State team that’s opening up their new stadium. That’s going to be a great challenge. And we’re looking forward to that challenge. We’re playing an SEC team coached by Mike Leach coming back into the Pac-12 conference to play a game, we recognize that challenge. And we’re playing the (FCS) national champions, North Dakota State, we recognize that challenge. We’re excited about it, but we don’t look at it in terms of one win is more important than the other. We’re just going to go out there and play our best football and then see what happens.”

On McMillan’s ability to contribute as a freshman: “He’s a really good player and a great kid. And when you have that marriage of a great person with extremely high character with physical talent, it gives you your best chance to be good. Now he’s going to be a freshman and he’s going to take some lumps and we understand that and recognize that. But what you know is if he’s going to be a hard worker, if he’s going to be committed, and if he’s got the raw talent, it gives you some hope and really a great feel moving forward that he’s going to be able to impact our team, not just September 3, but every week after and then for the next few years.”

On bringing in overlooked players: “I think the biggest thing and we talk about this often in our program is that we really don’t care what your ranking was. Once you get there, that’s where you determine what type of player you are. And when you show up here, we’re gonna give you the best opportunity to be successful. Do I think we have some really good players? Yeah. Are we excited about some of the guys we recruited? Absolutely. Do. I think that we’re gonna be able to change some of the fortunes we had at the end the games because of the players that are now on our roster? Yes. But with that, it’s going to be a matter of play with some toughness, play with a chip on your shoulder and recognize that right now we haven’t really done anything. We got to earn it.”

On de Laura’s growth since joining the program: “To have Jayden join our program was huge for us. We recognize where we were, what we needed to get done. Someone that threw 25 touchdowns in the Pac-12, someone that was Pac-12 Freshman Player of the year. He’s gained 20 pounds since he’s arrived on campus. He’s picked up the playbook well. We got a lot of work to do this training camp, excited about the opportunity to get started with him back hands on after spring ball but really think that Jayden is gonna be somebody that’s gonna lead this team. And the good part is he’s gonna lead it for awhile.”

Cowing on the culture of Arizona football: “I would describe it as a family atmosphere for sure. Every time we go in that facility, it’s just always smiles everywhere you go. Coach Fisch, he’ll always point that out every time in a meeting room, trying make it a family atmosphere. Always come in and what you got to do. Nutrition, weight room, all that stuff, but also build bonds outside of football as well as going over to Coach’s house, having barbecues … trying to build bond with our teammates and get that family atmosphere going.”

Cowing on his path to Arizona: “My intent when I went into the transfer portal, I wanted to come back to Arizona because I have a two and a half year old boy who lives up in the Chandler area. So when I got that phone call from Coach Fisch, I mean I was just super excited and also just building that connection with Coach Fisch as well, it kind of made it just a deal breaker for me. I just appreciate the opportunity that Coach Fisch has given me and I’m loving at Tucson every single moment that I’m here.”

Cowing on what he’s seen from de Laura: “I’ve been watching him now for quite some time, or even when I was at my own school, I was always watch his game through YouTube or something like that. But ever since he’s been here, he’s just going with it, rolling with the punches. He’s been in his playbook. He spends extra time off the field with his film going over anything that he can to make himself better, or going in the weight room extra times and trying to get his body a little bit bigger. He’s putting everything that he can necessary to get his game where it needs to be and then preparing the right way for the season.”

Cowing on what he’s learned from Belichick and McVay: “Honestly it just kind of gives you a different perspective on the game of football. Just kind of hearing from all these great coaches and kind of hearing their stories and how they go about their teams and how they prep their teams and then put that in your game and how you prepare for your game and stuff like that. So for myself, I want to get to the next level. So I kind have take in what they have to say to heart. I want to go and try to be an NFL player one day. I love that experience. I appreciate Coach for bringing these elite coaches coming in and speaking with us and kind of just giving what they’re looking for at their next level.”

Young on Arizona’s win over Cal last season: “It was a fun moment. The atmosphere was crazy from the get go. It was a homecoming game. Tucson, the Wildcat community really showed out that day. Coach Fisch, put us in the same plan we go through every week, just work hard and practice, focusing on what we need to focus on, go attack the day like you always say. We came out with the win that day. The fans rushed the field. It was a crazy moment, one of the moments I’ll never forget. We hadn’t won in a long time so it meant a lot to get that win. I’ll never forget that day like it was yesterday.”

Young on staying together in the locker room last season: “Things like this go on as leaders and the captains of the team. Keeping the team together, we have to work as one because we’re a football team. So keeping us together and the chemistry between everybody offense and defense, just hold everybody’s head high, not letting people get down just because their record. We got to play football at the end of the day. made me start to play football at the end of the day. This football team is a brotherhood so you can’t never let your brother go down just because he didn’t play good or things are going on, because we’re all human at the end of the day. It’s keeping each other up, holding each other accountable and having each other’s back. I feel like that helped us out a lot with the season we had last season and just staying together.”

Young on being coached by former safeties Chuck Cecil and Brandon Sanders: “Being coached by Chuck Cecil, that’s just a huge honor. It’s mind blowing as a player to be coached by somebody of that caliber. Just seeing him and watching him play and seeing what he’s done at the University of Arizona, it’s just kind of motivating to me, just being able to be coached by him every day. He’s a good guy. He helps me out as a player and a person. Always trying to motivate me and get me to be a better person every day. B-Sand is a guy like that. It helps a lot seeing what they’ve done to try to emulate my game.”