Arizona’s defense is undergoing a complete overhaul this offseason, with the linebacker room going through a major makeover all by itself. And now that includes having to replace the most veteran member of that position group.
Jerry Roberts, who previously announced he was returning to the UA for what would be a seventh college season and third with the Wildcats, has changed his mind and is entering the NCAA transfer portal.
The 6-foot-2, 230-pound Roberts started all 12 games for the UA in 2022, finishing with 78 tackles to rank second on the team. He also played in nine games for the Wildcats in 2021, his first season with the program after spending four at Bowling Green, and made six starts before suffering a broken leg against Washington State that caused him to miss the Territorial Cup.
In the 2022 Cup, Roberts registered 11 tackles, most since getting 12 in the season-opening win at San Diego State. He also did not participate in pregame Senior Day festivities despite appearing to have been out of eligibility, but when he announced his return he noted that his time at Bowling Green included both regular and medical redshirt years as well as the COVID year in 2020 that didn’t count toward any player’s eligibility.
Roberts’ departure still leaves Arizona with 11 scholarship LBs, but the only one with any starting experience with the Wildcats is Jacob Manu, who started seven games as a true freshman including the final six.
Two of Arizona’s four additions from the NCAA transfer portal are linebackers, including former 5-star prospect Justin Flowe from Oregon. The Wildcats also signed two high school LBs in December and are hoping still to get the commitment of 4-star prospect Leviticus Su’a, who is set to choose between the UA, Stanford and UCLA during the Polynesian Bowl on Jan. 20.
Roberts is the 24th player from the 2022 team to leave the program, the sixth who started at least six games on defense in the fall. His departure leaves safety Gunner Maldonado, with 15 starts including nine this past season, as the most experienced returning Wildcat defender.