Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Cats crying out for vocal leaders on defense

Grid squad lost a couple of field bosses from 2008

Southern California's Stafon Johnson is tackled by Arizona's Cam Nelson (left) and Earl Mitchell during a game in October at Arizona Stadium.

Southern California's Stafon Johnson is tackled by Arizona's Cam Nelson (left) and Earl Mitchell during a game in October at Arizona Stadium.

The Arizona football team’s defense needs more take-charge players.

The Wildcats, who return seven starters on the defense, appeared too quiet on that side of the ball during spring practice, which ended this week.

“I would like to see more leadership,” UA defensive coordinator Mark Stoops said. “We lost some good leaders in Ronnie Palmer and Nate Ness. Even though we replaced them with very talented players, we need guys to step up like they were.”

Safety Cam Nelson will be counted on in the role, as will defensive tackle Earl Mitchell.

“This team is more action,” defensive tackle Donald Horton said. “We are not very vocal at all.

“We have nobody out there making jokes or cracking us up. We have a bunch of silent leaders who are doing it week to week and in the weight room or in the practices. They are doing what is needed to be done right.”

Transition made: Robert Golden was a top cornerback nationally coming out of Edison High School in Fresno, Calif. Expectations were high.

The 5-foot-11, 190-pound defender grew out of his corner role to free safety this spring. The move is paying off.

“He is a lot further along than I thought he would be,” Stoops said.

Depth aplenty, except at LB: The Wildcats will add a number of linebackers to the unit when fall camp opens. They are needed.

Arizona appears set with starters Xavier Kelley, Sterling Lewis and Vuna Tuihalamaka, but depth is a concern.

The Wildcats will have C.J. Parish, Trevor Erno, Jake Fischer and Cordarius Golston making their debut this fall. They better be ready to play.

“They have to come in and be ready to compete for positions to help our depth,” Stoops said. “It is going to be important.”

The Wildcats have flexibility with nickelback Corey Hall capable of playing up at linebacker, and the other three playing able to play two spots.

Getting to the quarterback: Defensive end Brooks Reed is not a rookie any longer. That showed in team drills as he spent a lot of time in the UA backfield.

Reed, a former Sabino High standout, moved from H-back to end a year ago. The results were slow at first, with only one sack in the opening six games.

Reed finished with eight, though, and could challenge for league-high totals in 2009.



Sept. 5 Central Michigan

Sept. 12 NAU

Sept. 19 at Iowa

Sept. 26 at Oregon State

Oct. 10 at Washington

Oct. 17 Stanford

Oct. 24 UCLA

Nov. 7 Washington State

Nov. 14 at California

Nov. 21 Oregon

Nov. 28 at ASU

Dec. 5 at USC

Citizen Online Archive, 2006-2009

This archive contains all the stories that appeared on the Tucson Citizen's website from mid-2006 to June 1, 2009.

In 2010, a power surge fried a server that contained all of videos linked to dozens of stories in this archive. Also, a server that contained all of the databases for dozens of stories was accidentally erased, so all of those links are broken as well. However, all of the text and photos that accompanied some stories have been preserved.

For all of the stories that were archived by the Tucson Citizen newspaper's library in a digital archive between 1993 and 2009, go to Morgue Part 2

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