Quarterback Matt Scott committed to Arizona in the summer of 2007, and then the Wildcats’ coaching staff spent the next several months fending off other suitors for one of its highest-rated recruits.
Among those schools that tried to pry Scott from Arizona was Michigan. The Wolverines had a new coach searching for athletic quarterbacks to run his read-option attack.
Four years later, Rich Rodriguez finally got his man.
One of the happy developments from Arizona’s 3-8 season has been that Scott was able to redshirt — assuming he doesn’t accidentally stumble onto the field Saturday against Louisiana, of course — preserving his final season of eligibility.
That final year now intersects with Rodriguez’s arrival, giving hope that Arizona can minimize the pain of changing from a pass-based spread offense to a run-based spread offense.
“I’m excited,” Scott said.
“Lots of people know already, but it’s like the offense I ran in high school. It’s going to be fun. I get to go back to my natural roots, you could say, and really be myself.”
Starting quarterback Nick Foles stayed healthy all season, with the exception of the end of the Arizona State game last week, when Bryson Beirne finished up. Otherwise, Scott never seemed to be in much danger of having to be activated off the planned redshirt.
“Everybody has been coming up, saying, ‘Man, you’re going to be tearing it up next year,’” Scott said.
“I’m trying to stay level-headed, stay calm. I know where he’s been. He has great credentials with quarterbacks. That says it all. I’m happy for him to be here and get to work.”
Rodriguez, who said he hadn’t seen much of Arizona on TV this season, said at his introductory news conference that he was aware Scott was going to be available next year.
“I’m pretty excited about that,” Rodriguez said.
Scott started the first three games of the 2009 season before losing the starting job to Foles. He improved his throwing mechanics in the following offseason under then-first year quarterbacks coach Frank Scelfo.
Scott, subbing for an injured Foles last season for 2 1/2 games, completed 66 of 93 passes for 776 yards, with four touchdowns and two interceptions.
Scott does seem to be the right physical fit for Rodriguez’s offense, which requires the quarterback run game combined with a solid passing game.
“He has taken some guys who can throw and run and put up some remarkable numbers,” Scelfo said. “But the thing he has always realized, you have to run the football to win.”
Rodriguez said that by the end of his first fall camp, he can have about 90 percent of the offense in, although he concedes, “getting it in and being able to execute it are two different things.”
So, there will be a transition, even if Scott makes it easier.
“I think Matt can fit in well in any offense,” Scelfo said.
“Do I think he’ll fit in well in this offense? Absolutely, I think he will. Matt is an athletic guy, but he’s also a good quarterback. He can throw the ball. He proved that last year.
“Matt is going to get an opportunity to go to the next level because he’s a good quarterback. Not because he’s a good athlete playing quarterback. He just happens to have athletic ability as a quarterback.”