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Nation’s second-leading tackler considering transfer to Arizona

Brian Wagner

Akron's Brian Wagner defends against Florida International's T.Y. Hilton in October. Photo by Eric P. Mull-US PRESSWIRE

Akron’s Brian Wagner, the nation’s second-leading tackler, will be taking a recruiting visit to Arizona this weekend, looking for a place to transfer as a graduate student.

Wagner, who would available to play in 2012, has one season of eligibility remaining.

He averaged 13.36 tackles last season at Akron, where former Arizona Wildcats All-American Tony Bouie — a defensive graduate assistant for the Zips — saw him every day.

So did another former Wildcat — Charlie Camp, who coached linebackers for Akron for the past two seasons.

“He’s a tremendous, tremendous kid,” said Bouie, adding that he talked to Wagner on Thursday morning about his recruiting trip to Arizona.

“He’s a great teammate. He’s a good student. He’s not a flashy player. He’s not a kid where you’re going to say ‘Wow,’ but he ends up on the stat sheet with 12 tackles, a bunch of assists, maybe a forced fumble. He’s a machine.”

Wagner, 6-foot and 235 pounds, would seem to be tremendous boost to Arizona’s defense, which loses starting linebackers Paul Vassallo and Derek Earls. Jake Fischer will come back from an ACL tear, and Hank Hobson and Rob Hankins will look for more playing time after getting their feet wet as true sophomores.

Wagner, from Springfield, Ohio, earned first-team All-MAC honors this season. He had 147 tackles, including six for loss, in 11 games.

“He can do it in the Pac-12, not just the MAC,” Bouie said.

Bouie said Wagner reminded him of one of Arizona teammates during the Desert Swarm days — linebacker Brant Boyer.

“Brian is more low-key than Boyer off the field, but they have the same physical features, the same intensity and the same run-through-a-brick-wall mentality,” Bouie said.

“I’m pretty sure Brian will play at the next level, just like Brant did.”

As for Bouie, he is looking for another coaching job after Akron fired head coach Rob Ianello — a former Arizona assistant — after he compiled only two victories in two seasons.

Bouie said he’s ready to become a full-time assistant after his season as a grad assistant. He will be attending the American Football Coaches Association convention, which begins this weekend in San Antonio.

“I have been networking like everybody else to find a spot,” Bouie said.

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