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Walk-on quarterback from Phoenix eager for spring shot with Arizona

Alex Cappellini throws a pass for Phoenix Pinnacle High in 2009. Photo by Kara Horowitz/The Arizona Republic

The Arizona Wildcats will have four quarterbacks when they begin spring practice in a couple of weeks.

There’s Matt Scott, of course. The senior is the only quarterback on scholarship right now.

We told you last month about sophomore walk-on Tyler D’Amore, an Ironwood Ridge graduate who joined the team at the semester break.

Starting slot receiver Richard Morrison has been attending quarterback meetings and will split reps between the positions during spring ball, which begins March 5.

And there’s one more walk-on who has been unreported: Alex Cappellini, a sophomore who played last season at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, Calif. He is a graduate of Phoenix Pinnacle High School who redshirted the 2010 season at Division II Humboldt State.

He approached the Arizona coaching staff before the semester break and made his pitch to walk on; coach Rich Rodriguez joked “he camped out several times.”

“He’s a pretty good athlete,” Rodriguez told TucsonCitizen.com on Tuesday.

“We’re going to give him an opportunity. Like all the guys we have walking-on, he’s eager to prove himself.”

Cappellini, a left-hander, was considered a dual-threat quarterback in high school and said he’s comfortable directing Rodriguez’s read-option offense.

He rushed 128 times for 562 yards and 12 touchdowns as a senior at Pinnacle, also completing 110 of 206 passes for 1,779 yards, with 15 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

Cappellini (6-3, 195) appeared in four games at Orange Coast, starting early in the season. He completed 22 of 46 passes for 237 yards, with two touchdowns and two interceptions, rushing 21 times for 73 yards.

“I have been playing football for a long time and I’m trying to get in front of some big crowds and play in some big games,” Cappellini said.

“Coach Rodriguez said to learn the offense, get stronger, get faster and display my talents in the spring. The opportunity is there. It’s just a matter of how good the scrimmages go.”

Arizona has two scholarship freshman arriving next season — Javelle Allen and Josh Kern — but the walk-ons will have a head start.

“I have been fortunate to have quality walk-ons join the program in my career,” Rodriguez said. “I tell them, ‘I won’t make you a lot of promises, but I will give you a chance to prove yourself.’”

Among the other walk-ons who will be in spring camp is defensive tackle Tevin Hood, a former Arizona Republic All-Arizona player who helped Chandler Hamilton to a state title in 2009 by making 19 sacks.

Hood (6-1, 300) attended Duke in 2010 on an academic scholarship; he was one of five winners of the National Football Foundation’s high school scholar-athlete award. He appeared in four games for the Blue Devils as a true freshman before transferring to the University of San Diego.

He had 11 tackles, including 3.5 for loss, in eight games last season for the Toreros of the Football Championship Subdivision.

Hood’s father is former Arizona Cardinals defensive tackle Eric Swann. He is the older brother of Chandler Hamilton defensive tackle Jaxon Hood, who was a UA recruiting target this year. Hood signed with Arizona State.

For more on Tevin Hood, read this profile from Scott Bordow of the Arizona Republic from February 2010.

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