Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Sunday games for T&T?

Citizen Staff Writer



Quarterback Willie Tuitama and wide receiver Mike Thomas talked about leaving Arizona a year early to enter the NFL draft.

Instead, the duo stayed for their senior years in hopes of finishing their UA careers with a bowl game and a better draft status.

They helped the Wildcats go 8-5 and win their first bowl since 1998. But will they be drafted any higher for their efforts?

That will be determined at the NFL draft his weekend.

“Mike Thomas will be a very good football player for somebody,” UA coach Mike Stoops said.

Thomas is projected as a third- or fourth-round pick by NFLdraftscout.com.

The Pac-10′s all-time leading receiver with 259 catches doesn’t have the size (5 feet 8) that many teams want, but that hasn’t stopped former Wildcats Bobby Wade and Syndric Steptoe from making their marks in the NFL recently.

“Take one look at Mike Thomas and you see a commodity the NFL does not want – a 5-8 wide receiver. Big people play at the next level and big people survive,” The Dallas Morning News writes.

“But the more you look at Thomas, the more you like him, which is why he is going to turn up in this draft in the middle rounds.”

Thomas raised his stock at the NFL combine by finishing in the top five at his position with a 4.4-second time in the 40-yard dash. He was also third in the vertical jump at 40 feet, 6 inches and fifth in the broad jump at 10-6.

SI.com projects Thomas as a third-round pick.

“He should find a home as a productive fourth receiver who will also produce on special teams,” SI.com said.

Thomas is listed as the 12th best receiver overall by CBSSportsline.com.

The Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers are inquiring about the receiver, inviting him to their complex.

Tuitama’s stock seems to be up in the air. Despite being the school’s all-time career leader in touchdowns, completions, attempts and yards, he didn’t earn a spot at the NFL combine.

A DUI arrest in March probably didn’t help his situation either.

There is no hiding, however, that he has one of the strongest arms around.

“He has an NFL arm,” Stoops said. “Those types of arms are hard to find.”

But there apparently are plenty of questions about his mobility and ability to read defenses.

The Chicago Tribune lists Tuitama as the 12th-best quarterback available.

“This is an athletic prospect who moves well and has a live arm. Tuitama also has the size to play at the next level,” The Tribune wrote. “The downside with him is decision-making and consistency. He does not always play up to his abilities.”

SI.com says Tuitama won’t be drafted and will be signed as a free agent. That could work out better for the quarterback. He could have more say in what where he plays.

“The opportunities are there,” Stoops said. “I think he will be fine if he is drafted or not.”


Saturday: 1 p.m., ESPN, NFL; 6 p.m., ESPN2, NFL

Sunday: 7 a.m., ESPN, NFL

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