Meet Arizona football’s ‘sleeper’by Anthony Gimino on Sep. 01, 2010, under Sports
Out of the 22 likely starters on the Arizona Wildcats football team — plus the kicker, punter and long-snapper — I’m guessing only one had gone through all of fall camp without an interview request.
Until late last week, that is.
“I love the fact that I’m not in the media because it doesn’t give the other team a chance to know who I am,” said the mystery player. “It’s like I’m a sleeper. They won’t even know.”
Let’s end the suspense. I hate to be the one to ruin Anthony Wilcox’s cover — OK, I don’t really hate to do it — but he does have a fairly interesting story, even if he doesn’t fit the profile of the typical preseason feature.
He’s not a potential All-American, such as junior cornerback Trevin Wade.
He’s not making a position switch, such as junior Robert Golden from safety to cornerback.
He’s not the local kid making good, such as sophomore safety Adam Hall.
He’s not the hot-shot true freshman, such as Marquis Flowers, Shaquille Richardson and Jonathan McKnight.
He’s not even the experienced backup who is moving into the starting lineup, such as senior safety Joseph Perkins.
Anthony Wilcox? He’s just a guy who has played in eight games, with one tackle, in the past two seasons. So, it’s understandable that the general reaction on the message boards after Wilcox earned a first-team strong safety spot this fall was “Who’s he?”
So … who’s he?
“The coaches like the fact that I know what I’m doing,” Wilcox said.
“I know my stuff. I know the playbook. They don’t have to tell me a lot of times what to do. I can help younger guys. That is pretty much what coaches want to see. A lot of guys have talent, but you have to know the plays, too.”
This is Wilcox’s third year at Arizona. The senior has been an unknown from the start because he arrived after signing day. He missed all of that recruiting hoopla. He spent one season at Compton (Calif.) College, and it wasn’t until late in the process that many schools realized he could be ready to come out and be eligible after his freshman year.
Wilcox, who attended high school in Lakeland, Fla., said at one point he committed to Ole Miss, but then coach Ed Orgeron was fired. Kansas State and South Florida entered the picture. So did Arizona.
“I had a late offer from UCLA and North Carolina, but it was too late, I had already done my paperwork here,” Wilcox said.
And then Florida called.
“I guess they thought one of their guys wasn’t going to make it, but it was too late. I was already working out here,” Wilcox said. “That was kind of like a last-day offer.”
Wilcox, who joined the Wildcats before fall camp of 2008, hasn’t played much but he helps balance the promising youth in the secondary with his maturity. He is 24 years old and ready to finish with a flourish.
“I’ve learned a lot,” he said. “A lot of guys ask me what to do now. It’s kind of different.”
With Friday’s opener at Toledo looming, he might only have a couple more days to enjoy his anonymity.