Sept. 22, 2009
TUCSON--Former Wildcat All-American safety Chuck Cecil, who will be inducted into the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame in December, will be cited here Oct. 24 for the prestigious honor.
Cecil joins former Wildcat linebacker Hunley (1980-83) in the College Football Hall of Fame. Hunley was inducted in 1998. Former Arizona head coaches Jim Young (1999) and Darrell Mudra (2000) also have been selected for the honor.
The UA will fete Cecil's national honor at halftime of the UCLA game, currently slated to kick off at 4 p.m., although Pac-10 television seletion could put the contest earlier in the day.
Cecil, current defensive coordinator for the National Football League's Tennessee Titans, was a four-year letterman and star from 1984 to 1987 out of Helix High School in San Diego. He is Arizona's all-time interceptions leader with 21, including nine in his senior year in 1987.
His 100-yard interception return against Arizona State in 1986 remains one of Arizona's all-time revered defensive moments.
Starting as a walk-on for the late Coach Larry Smith, Cecil developed into a feared hitter and smart defender at free safety, eventually earnijng consensus All-America honors in 1987 during his senior year under Coach Dick Tomey. He was named Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year that season and was selected to the Senior and Hula Bowls.
Cecil excelled away from the field as well, considerable impetus for his selection to the NFF College Hall of Fame. He was a two-time first-team Academic All-America honoree and winner of the NCAA Top Six Award, plus was a Pac-10 Conference Medalist.
Cecil spent seven seasons in the NFL with the Green Bay Packers, Arizona Cardinals and Houston Oilder, and later went on to the Celebrity Golf Tour and work as a television commentator for UA football broadcasts. Since 2001 he has worked the sidelines as a coach for the Tennessee Titans, earning a promotion to defensive coordinator in February of this year.
Cecil and his wife, Carrie, in 2005 formed a steering committee to help raise funds for University Medical Center's Trauma Center in Tucson, among other community projects they've undertaken in Arizona and Tennessee.
Nicknamed "The Heat-Seeking Missile" at one point in his career, Cecil finished his four years with 392 tackles on scrimmage plays and special teams, No. 7 on Arizona's all-time list. He also broked up 38 passes to rank No. 2 and his nine picks in 1987 are also No. 2 behind All-American Jackie Wallace's 11. His four interceptions at Stanford in 1987 set a school record.
He was part of one of UA's noted defensive eras including the 1985 squad's stingy 12 points and 75 rushing yards allowed. He was named Defensive MVP of the 1986 Aloha Bowl.