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Late ‘steal’ at linebacker listed as first-stringer on preseason depth chart

LOS ANGELES — Arizona unveiled its new media guide at Pac-12 Media Day, and the preseason depth chart contains several tweaks from the spring version.

Perhaps most notable is the inclusion of David Lopez as the first-stringer at strong-side linebacker. Lopez, a junior college transfer from Cerritos College, was a June addition to the roster. He had originally committed to play at Portland State.

The strong-side position is often removed for a nickel-back in the Wildcats’ scheme, but Arizona needs helps as it has no experience at the position. Lopez (6-3, 230) is trying to take over for Jake Fischer, who suffered an ACL injury in the spring game. His return, if at all for this season, is uncertain.

Arizona also lost two backup linebackers to transfer in the spring, and other to academic problems.

“We lost four linebackers, so we kind of looked around and saw three or four guys we really liked,” coach Mike Stoops said. “We liked him, and brought him in, and he’s done a really good job this summer. He looks good. He’s a big kid. We hope we stole one there.”

Lopez made 107 tackles, including 10.5 for loss and 4.5 sacks, last season at Cerritos, earning JC Grid-Wire All-America honors. Previously, he attended Los Angeles Garfield High School.

Arizona is also expecting to take a long look in fall camp at a trio of freshmen at the position — Rob Hankins, Hank Hobson and Domonique Petties.

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