Arizona Wildcats sophomore Fabbians Ebbele, who started every game last season at right tackle, is nowhere to be found on the team’s depth chart entering camp.
For a while, it looked as if he might not be on the team at all, but assault charges stemming from a brawl at a party in early March were dismissed this summer.
Ebbele and defensive back Jourdon Grandon had been facing a court date based on the incident.
Both players are off suspension and will get a chance to work their way into the good graces of first-year coach Rich Rodriguez when fall camp begins with a Thursday night practice.
“They paid a punishment and they needed to,” Rodriguez said. “They realized they made a mistake.”
Like most positions on the team, the offensive line is in flux, despite the return of all five starters.
You can count on senior Kyle Quinn at center, and senior Trace Biskin is fairly well set at right guard. After that …
For now, 2011 starting left guard Chris Putton is No. 1 at left tackle. Mickey Baucus, last season’s starting left tackle is listed with redshirt freshmen Jacob Arzouman and Lene Maiava as potential starters at right tackle. Seniors Addison Bachman and Shane Zink enter camp as co-starters at left guard.
It might all yet shake out that Ebbele and Baucus return to their 2011 starting roles. Asked about Baucus being listed at right tackle, Rodriguez answered, “Is he?” indicating that he doesn’t much care about the depth chart right now. Let competition in fall camp sort it all out.
“I hope he can play both (tackle spots),” Rodriguez said of Baucus, who should be ready to go in camp after missing spring because of back surgery. “I’m just glad he is back healthy again.”
Arizona lists 11 offensive linemen on its depth chart, not counting Ebbele and tackle Jack Baucus, who won’t be ready for the start of camp because of a knee injury.
“I know it was really hurting him not to be out there this spring,” Rodriguez said of Ebbele.
“At the same time, I think it made him hopefully appreciate the opportunity he has to play for us,” Rodriguez said.
“I think he is ready to come out in August and prove it to the coaches because we haven’t seen him at all, other than on film. I know he is anxious to prove himself.”
* * *
Redshirt sophomore safeties Jared Tevis and Blake Brady earned scholarships after spring ball, Rodriguez said.
Awarding a scholarship to a walk-on who has been in the program at least two years does not count toward a team’s limit of giving out 25 initial scholarships in a year. It only counts toward the overall scholarship limit of 85 — and Rodriguez had room to spare.
“If we have an open space and a guy who is a third-year, fourth-year (walk-on), I like to reward him, rather than having it sit there,” Rodriguez said.
Tevis, from Canyon del Oro High School, is listed as a starter at one safety position. Arizona lists Brady as a backup at two of the three safety spots in the 3-3-5 defense.
Tevis (5-10, 198) doesn’t have great size, but Rodriguez — a former walk-on at West Virginia — recognizes the traits in successful walk-on stories.
“He reminds me of some guys we have had in the past — hungry, a little chip on their shoulder, wants to prove themselves,” Rodriguez said. “All they needed was an opportunity.
“Because he’s a walk-on, people assume he’s not athletic. But he’s more athletic than you think. He’s a tough guy and I know he’s going to play a lot of football for us.”
* * *
Quarterback Nick Isham isn’t eligible this season after his transfer from Louisiana Tech, but he’ll spend this fall getting ready to compete for the starting job next spring.
He joined the Wildcats over the summer.
Rodriguez said Isham, who started the first seven games last season as a true freshman with the Bulldogs, reached out to co-offensive coordinator Calvin Magee this spring about a potential transfer. Isham is from Calabasas, Calif.
“He wanted to come back west and he was looking at us and another school in our league,” Rodriguez said.
“We explained to him our situation and said, ‘Would you be willing to walk-on and prove yourself. The only thing we’re going to promise you is an opportunity.’ So he came on an unofficial visit with his family and loved it.
“I really like the young man. I think he is smart. He can throw. He will be right in the mix next year at this time.”
Isham (5-10, 185) completed 155 of 257 passes for 1,457 yards, with eight touchdowns and seven interceptions, last season.