by Adam Gonzales
Tucson, Ariz. – One of the first things you notice about redshirt freshman quarterback Anu Solomon is how cool, calm and collected he is on and off the field.
“When things go bad on the field, it’s good to have someone who won’t be shaken,” co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Rod Smith said. “The good part about Anu is that he doesn’t get flustered when he is pressured.”
Solomon agrees that he has always been the type of person that doesn’t get too flustered under any situation.
“It’s my personality to be laid back,” Solomon said. “It’s the way I am because of my culture and the way my parents raised me.”
At Monday’s weekly press conference, head coach Rich Rodriguez announced that Solomon would be the starter for opening night tomorrow against UNLV. Because Solomon redshirted last year, this will be his first game action since his senior year in high school at Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas, Nev. Playing against his hometown team also makes Friday a unique situation so his emotions will be running wild.
“It’s going to be nerve wracking but exciting,” Solomon said. “I’ll be nervous because it’s my first college game but I’ll have to fight the butterflies because there is no way to get rid of that completely.”
Rodriguez is confident in naming the redshirt freshman as the starter because of the way he has progressed since the spring game but knows that if he has to make a change he will.
“Solomon will be the starter on Friday night but that doesn’t mean that he plays the whole game and that he will be the starter the rest of the season,” Rodriguez said on Monday. “I don’t want any quarterback to ever go in thinking as soon as I make a mistake I’m coming out. He deserves to start the first game and I’m confident that he will play well. He will be the starter as long as he plays well and we win. He has a good feel for the game.”
The entire coaching staff felt that Solomon stood out the most among the quarterbacks in fall camp this year, contributing to the strong showing he had during spring practices. When the Wildcats were recruiting Solomon, they were hoping that he could be one of the top guys to choose from come game day.
“We thought he could be pretty good,” Smith said. “He hasn’t played a game yet, so it is premature to say how good he actually is. By practice standards, he is starting to do what we thought he could do. He still has a long way to go, but is a still a redshirt freshman, and we all need to remember that.”
Solomon knows that he still has to get better because of the three guys working hard to take his spot. He loves the competition and is excited to get better as a player.
“There is always room for improvement,” Solomon said. “Even though they declared me as the starter for this game, I may come out the next snap. I just have to keep getting better because there are still three really good players challenging me.”
Solomon will be the first freshman to start a game for the Wildcats since Willie Tuitama started the last four games of the 2005 season. He is also poised to become the first freshman quarterback to start the first game of the season.
“I just need to take it all in and make sure I remember it for the next 20 years,” Solomon said.
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