Jan. 16, 2002
TUCSON - The Arizona football will open Spring Practice on campus March 1, working to continue the momentum gained with the Cats' victory over Arizona State in the 2001 season finale.
Head coach John Mackovic and staff should have some 80 players on hand for the 15 permissable spring drills to be spread over the course of five weeks. Spring ball will culminate in the annual Spring Game on Saturday, April 6, at Arizona Stadium.
UA finished the 2001 season 5-6 and 2-6 for an eighth-place finish in the Pacific-10 Conference, but won two of its final three games and clicked on many fronts in the 34-21 victory at ASU on Nov. 23.
Following the season two scholarship quarterbacks transferred from the program leaving Mackovic and offensive coordinator Rick Dykes with senior Jason Johnson, redshirt freshman Nic Costa and walk-on Jesse Gran at the position. The latter was expected to move to receiver this year but could have to get some snaps under center to give the Cats some depth entering the fall.
Johnson threw for more than 2,000 yards and a school-record tying 19 touchdowns last year. Costa, a strong-armed fleet quarterback, played well on the scout team in 2001 and is a heralded young player who is expected to compete for immediate playing time.
Other Wildcats who seem poised for stellar years are junior linebacker Lance Briggs, who led the team in tackles for the second consecutive year with 93, junior halfback Clarence Farmer, who rushed for 1,229 yards, senior wide receiver Bobby Wade, who caught 62 passes for 882 yards, and junior cornerback Michael Jolivette, who has 10 career interceptions and set a UA record by breaking up 20 passes last year. The Cats also return senior offensive tackle Makoa Freitas and senior defensive tackle Young Thompson, two guys who earned honorable mention All-Pac-10 honors along with Jolivette, Wade and Johnson. Farmer and Briggs were UA's two 1st-team All-Pac-10 selections.
In all the Cats bring back 15 starters and 37 lettermen.
Arizona coaches in the meantime are completing the final weeks of recruiting, with National Letter of Intent day the first Wednesday in February, on the 6th. Coaches cannot comment on recruiting until players actually sign, but UA appears to be attracting some outstanding prospects, with the current group rated as high as No. 7 in the nation by one recruiting service.
2002 Spring Football Schedule:
Friday, March 1 Practice, 2 p.m. Tucson area coaches clinic. Saturday, March 2 Practice, 4 p.m. Sunday, March 3 Practice, 1 p.m. Tuesday, March 5 Practice, 4 p.m. Wednesday, March 6 Practice, 4 p.m. Thursday, March 7 Pro-Timing Day ('01 seniors) Practice, 4 p.m. March 9-16 Spring Break, no practices Tuesday, March 19 Practice, 4 p.m. Wednesday, March 20 Pro-Timing Day #2 Phoenix area coaches clinic Thursday, March 21 Practice, 4 p.m. Friday, March 22 Football Alumni Golf Tournament Saturday, March 23 Practice, 1 p.m. Alumni Barbecue Tuesday, March 26 Practice, 4 p.m. Thursday, March 28 Practice, 4 p.m. Friday, March 29 Practice, 4 p.m. Tuesday, April 2 Practice, 4 p.m. Wednesday, April 3 Chuck Cecil Dinner Thursday, April 4 Practice, 4 p.m. Friday, April 5 Chuck Cecil Golf Tournament Saturday, April 6 Spring Game, 1 p..m. Tuesday, April 9 Arizona Football Spring Picnic