Nearly three decades ago, UA opened its fall football camp with an optimistic view of the 1983 season...
July 11, 2012
(Athletics Communication Services)
Nearly three decades ago, UA opened its fall football camp with an optimistic view of the 1983 season.
Fourth-year Head coach Larry Smith's second trip to training camp at Cochise College saw experience in all aspects -- defense, offense and kicking. Fourteen starters returned and the names weren't unknowns.
Senior linebacker Ricky Hunley and senior quarterback Tom Tunnicliffe led the way, but a host of other experienced players would form one of the league's daunted defensive units and a productive big-play offense -- linebackers Lamonte Hunley and Byron Evans, safeties Allan Durden and Lynnden Brown, cornerbacks Randy Robbins and Gordon Bunch, outside linebackers John Kaiser and Steve Boadway, tackles David Wood and John Barthalt, noseguards Joe Drake and Ivan Lesnik, tailback Vance Johnson and fullback Chris Brewer, receivers Brad Anderson and Jay Dobyns, linemen Mike Freeman and Marsharne Graves, placekicker Max Zendejas, and newcomers in lineman Charlie Dickey and receiver Jon Horton.
All told, five of those players were or would be eventual All-Americans (the Hunleys, Durden, Evans, and Zendejas), seven were first-team All-Pac-10 (the Hunleys, Durden, Evans, Anderson, Robbins and Wood), and Tunnicliffe, Zendejas, Brewer, Drake, Boadway, Dickey, Freeman, Graves, Lesnick and Horton would earn second-team all-league in their careers. Too, 1983 freshman running back David Adams would eventually become the league's season rushing leader and a first-team conference pick.
From that 1983 roster a phenomenal 20 players would later be active on NFL or Canadian Football League rosters -- Adams, Anderson, Boadway, Brewer, Dickey, lineman Curt DiGiacomo, Drake, Evans, Freeman, offensive back Phil Freeman, Graves, defensive tackle George Hinkle, Ricky and Lamonte Hunley, Johnson, Kaiser, Robbins, defensive back Martin Rudolph, tight end/snapper Mark Walczak and Zendejas. Johnson, Robbins, Ricky Hunley and Mike Freeman would combine to play in 10 Super Bowls.
The team was loaded. Unfortunately, it wasn't aimed at the postseason, serving the first of two years' bowl probation stemming from violations under previous management. But, the Cats would be a rugged ball-swarming unit and use Tunnifcliffe's arm (2,474 yards) and a deep rushing attack (141 ypg), plus Zendejas' 20-for-25 field-goal kicking, to post an early-season No. 3 ranking and eventually record a 7-3-1 mark. The three losses came by a total of 19 points and the tie was an epic Arizona-Cal game in Berkeley marked by numerous big plays including Hunley's 57-yard interception return.
The season closed with UA recording its second consecutive victory over Arizona State, 17-15, in Tempe, with Zendejas drilling a 35-yard field goal as time expired. That was game No. 2 in "The Streak," a nine-year span of seasons without a loss to the Sun Devils, later augmented by Dick Tomey's first four squads.
The 1983 defense rated first in the league against the rush (98 ypg) and was second in the Pac-10 in total defense (299 ypg). Tunnicliffe closed his career as the No. 4 passing in league history.
Arizona opens its 2012 fall camp under first-year Head Coach Rich Rodriguez the first week in August. When it gets going, take a close look. Who knows what's in the future?
The best way to watch is in person. Tickets are available online here or by calling the McKale Center Ticket office, 520-621-2287 or 800-452-2287.