The ACL hits keep coming for the Arizona football team.
Junior defensive tackle Willie Mobley suffered an ACL tear playing basketball at the student rec center, and will undergo surgery this week, a UA official confirmed Monday.
Mobley played sparingly last season, appearing in 10 games and making seven tackles, including 1.5 for loss and a half-sack. He was slated in the spring to be a backup to sophomore Justin Washington, who had 11.5 tackles for loss and six sacks last season, earning Freshman All-American honors.
Mobley began his career at Ohio State, redshirting as a freshman in 2008, before transferring to Orange Coast Community College in Costa Mesa, Calif., where he did not play in 2009.
Sophomore Sione Tuihalamaka, who made four starts and 23 tackles last season, is penciled in as the starter at the other defensive tackle spot. Arizona has promising depth but is young and inexperienced behind the sophomore starters.
Junior Chris Merrill (two tackles last season) was listed in the spring as a backup to Tuihalamaka. Junior Jowyn Ward redshirted last season; he has two career tackles.
Senior Dominique Austin, who saw time as a big end (292 pounds) in the spring, has position flexibility. Other possibilities include redshirt freshmen Kirifi Taula, Saneilia Fuimaono and Alualu Fanene.
Mobley’s ACL injury is the fourth of the spring for the Wildcats.
Backup running back Greg Nwoko suffered an ACL tear early in spring camp. Then, starting safety Adam Hall tore his ACL, and starting linebacker Jake Fischer suffered the same injury late in the team’s final spring scrimmage.
Talking about his defense last week, coach Mike Stoops told TucsonCitizen.com:
“Jake and Adam are really going to be hard to replace, just because they were coming into their own as players. They were becoming playmakers, and you can never have enough playmakers in this league.
“Jake is an explosive, fast player, and Adam is very physical player. I think we’re good enough in the back end to manage it. We’re going to have to tweak our personnel a bit, but we’re good enough, athletic enough, to do that.”
Stoops said the rehabs were going well, but added that, “We’re not going to pressure them back. We’re going to let it run its course. … If they don’t return, they don’t. If they’re ready to go, they’re ready to go.
“I would think the best-case scenario would be the second half of the season.”