by Adam Gonzales
Tucson, Ariz. – University of Arizona football is nearing the end of their first full week of fall camp. After Arizona’s all-time leading rusher Ka’Deem Carey departed for the NFL, there were big shoes to fill. Redshirt senior Terris Jones-Grigsby and redshirt junior Jared Baker are the two veterans on the team that will look to replace Carey.
“I love the way the guys are working,” running backs coach Calvin Magee said. “They are all focused and are concentrating to improve every day, and that’s all you can ask for.”
Jones-Grisgby (younger brother of former UA running back Nic Grigsby) has primarily been a backup running back and special teams player his whole career, but now he is looking for a much bigger role as a senior.
“Terris is very solid,” Magee said. “He does everything right. He is a veteran so he understands everything, and he is a good person for the young guys to watch.”
Baker has also been a backup running back and kick returner throughout his career, but has a little more experience in the backfield than Jones-Grigsby. He has totaled 47 carries for 227 yards and a touchdown in his two years as a Wildcat. The junior had an unfortunate end to his 2013 season when he tore his ACL on a kick return against Arizona State. Baker took advantage of the medical staff and strength coaches here at Arizona and has come back for fall camp as if the injury never happened.
“I’m getting better every single day,” Baker said. “I feel like I’m getting my speed back and I feel great out there.”
Head coach Rich Rodriguez has nothing but praise for the way Baker responded to an injury that has ended many athlete’s careers.
“Jared is one of the fastest guys on the team,” Rodriguez said. “I expected Jared to be doing well right now because he worked so hard and he was ahead of schedule throughout his rehab.”
The Wildcats added four true freshman (Jonathan Haden, Jonah Huff, Jocquez Kalili and Nick Wilson) and UNLV transfer senior Adonis Smith to the roster this year, along with Zach Green ready to contribute after he redshirted his true freshman season in 2013.
“The young guys have been very exciting to watch,” Magee said. “They are what we thought they were when we brought them in here. They are learning pretty quick.”
Jones-Grigsby and Baker are both taking leadership roles on the team because of the amount of newcomers that have been added to the roster.
“We’re the veterans this year,” Jones-Grigsby said. “Once practice gets into full swing they are really going to look up to us. I try to make sure they stay focused, and I try to be a second coach to them, especially off the field.”
Players like Carey don’t come around very often, so this group of running backs knows that it is going to be by committee this year. The group embraces the strategy because they know there is playing time up for grabs with stiff competition.
“I think it’s good for us,” Jones-Grigsby said. “There are eight of us and we all want the spot and are working hard at it.”
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