No. 2 on the Arizona Wildcats Badass List: Ricky Hunley and Richard Diceby Javier Morales on Nov. 16, 2011, under Sports
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No. 2: RICKY HUNLEY, linebacker (1980-1983)
Not too long after Ricky Hunley traveled west from Petersburg, Va., in 1980, he became the most talented and athletically gifted badass to play for the Wildcats.
As a freshman inside linebacker, Hunley recorded a team-high 14 tackles in the UA’s 23-17 win over No. 2 UCLA in Tucson. The previously unbeaten Bruins had a chance to be the top-ranked team in the country because No. 1 Alabama was upset earlier in the day.
Hunley sacked UCLA quarterback Tom Ramsey on key third-down plays in the third and fourth quarters to stave off the Bruins. Ramsey, rattled by Hunley and Arizona’s pressure, passed for only 58 yards in the second half.
He was one of 11 children who grew up in the Hunley household, which included younger brother Lamonte, who also became a standout linebacker with the Wildcats. Lamonte was only a year behind Ricky, so Arizona fans were treated to three seasons of the Hunley brothers wreaking havoc as on Pac-10 offenses.
When Arizona was ranked No. 3 by the Associated Press in 1983, Ricky’s senior season, Sports Illustrated described the brothers as, “Fire and Smoke, Mean and Nasty, Gotcha Now and Getcha Later.”
“I want to run through people,” Ricky told SI. “I want a hit you’ll hear for days. I dream, I mean dream, of hitting a wide receiver in midair. Something hellacious. If a team has no business on the field with us, I want to let ‘em know it.”
Oh, they knew about it, all too well.
Hunley, the highest NFL draft pick in Arizona history (seventh selection overall in 1984, by Cincinnati), is the Wildcat record-holder with 566 career tackles. He was a consensus first-team All-American in 1982 and 1983. He was also a three-time All-Pac-10 pick and the 1983 Pac-10 Co-Defensive Player of the Year.
He also set a school record recovering five fumbles in 1983. He led the Wildcats in unassisted tackles every year from
1981-83 with totals of 74, 100 and 99.
“He’s the finest linebacker I’ve ever coached or seen,” former UA coach Larry Smith said in the SI article.
Hunley became the first Arizona player to be selected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1998.
Now a linebackers coach with the Raiders, Hunley played in the NFL for seven years and participated in Super Bowls XXI and XXII with the Denver Broncos. He has coached at USC and Missouri under Smith. He also coached one season at Florida under Steve Spurrier. He also served two seasons as the defensive coordinator for the California Redwoods (2009) and Sacramento Mountain Lions (2010) of the United Football League.
He also served on the Board of Directors for the Black Coaches Association and the Minority Issues Committee of the AFCA.
Passed over for the UA head coaching job in 2003 — when recently-fired Mike Stoops was hired instead — Hunley lobbied to join Stoops’ staff last year but was not hired. Some UA faithful believe Hunley should get another look to be head coach of the Wildcats given his stature in Tucson and extensive background as a college and professional coach.
“I would love to come back,” Hunley told Anthony Gimino of TucsonCitizen.com when he was considered by Stoops to join the UA staff last year. “I would absolutely love it. Arizona has always been a destiny for me. That’s home.”
No. 2 RICHARD DICE, wide receiver (1993-1996)
In a 2007 article for the print edition of the Tucson Citizen, Gimino described the undeniable badass nature of Dice, a throwback if there ever was one in the Arizona program.
“Dice is remembered for his fire, a never-say-die player who wouldn’t be deterred by a torn left ACL in 1995,” Gimino wrote in a preview of the Arizona-ASU football game.
The prolific receiver — who ranks in the UA’s top 10 in career touchdown receptions (17) and receiving yards (1,957) — opted to not have late-season surgery. The swelling was reduced enough by game time to allow him to play when the Wildcats traveled to Tempe in 1995.
“In my mind, any time I stepped on the field, I thought I could make a play,” Dice, a junior that season, told Gimino. “And I just had a lot of respect for the guys I played with who were seniors. I wanted to do everything possible to give our team the best chance to win.”
Dice and quarterback Dan White spearheaded a comeback from a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter with three receptions. After making a leaping catch among defenders at the ASU, barely landing inbounds, Dice limped to the UA bench raising his middle finger to the ASU crowd. The Wildcats won 31-28.
“If there was one guy who could use the word ‘hatred’ for ASU, it was him,” White told Gimino. “I think he disliked the whole idea of ASU.
“Him gimping around on that knee, barely able to walk, that was one of those things that raised everybody else up.”
As a sophomore in 1994, Dice caught six passes for 138 yards and two touchdowns against UCLA despite suffering from a hip pointer, bruised knee and sore back throughout the game. When Dice leaped high for an 8-yard touchdown pass from White above two Bruin defenders, he landed awkwardly but held on to the ball.
He couldn’t get off the turf on his own power because of his back pain. He later returned to the game, which Arizona won 34-24 at Arizona Stadium.
When reporters asked Dice after the game what part of his body did not hurt, he managed a smile and said, “My hands.”
“We had a lot of big-time effort plays,” former UA coach Dick Tomey told reporters, “but if everybody was able to give as much as Dice does, any team would be unbelievable.”
The New York Times summoned a reporter to Tucson to write a story about the UA’s Desert Swarm defense in 1994. Because both of them were badasses, center Hicham El-Mashtoub (No. 8 on this Badass List) and Dice became part of the story despite playing with the offense.
“We’re all a little nuts, which is good,” Dice told the Times reporter.
USC recruited Dice as a defensive back out of high school. He chose Arizona because Tomey promised him a try at receiver.
Dice, 36, works in concrete demolition near his Santa Clarita, Calif., home.
THE BADASS LIST
2. Ricky Hunley, linebacker (1980-83)
3. Rob Waldrop, defensive tackle (1990-93)
4. Tedy Bruschi, defensive end (1992-95)
5. Marcus Bell, linebacker (1996-99)
6. Byron Evans, linebacker (1983-86)
7. Brant Boyer, linebacker (1992-93)
8. Ty Parten, defensive tackle (1989-92)
9. Jimmie Hopkins, defensive end (1990-93)
10. Al “Bubba” Gross, safety (1979-82)
2. Richard Dice, wide receiver (1993-96)
3. Kelvin Eafon, tailback/fullback (1996-98)
4. David Adams, tailback (1984-86)
5. Joe Tofflemire, center (1985-88)
6. Glenn Parker, offensive guard (1988-89)
7. Rob Gronkowski, tight end (2007-08)
8. Hicham El-Mashtoub, center (1991-94)
9. Dennis Northcutt, wide receiver (1996-99)
10. Nick Foles, quarterback (2009-11)