Junior college transfer B.J. Denker is making a quick move on Arizona’s quarterback depth chart.
It’s not all that surprising, of course. With junior Richard Morrison back at receiver after a spring fling at quarterback, and the other main competition being a pair of true freshmen, Denker has age and experience in his favor.
The left-hander wore a red jersey at the first practice in full pads on Tuesday night — the jersey signifying that he was not to be hit. Only Denker and senior starter Matt Scott wore red jerseys, a pretty clear sign that Denker needed only a handful of practices to separate from freshman Javelle Allen and Josh Kern in the competition to be the backup.
“Matt has done well and B.J. is learning pretty quickly,” Rodriguez said after Tuesday night’s practice. “I’m debating whether I want to get him hit or not because right now he’s No. 2.”
Rodriguez added, “The young freshmen are coming along.”
Denker, who attended Cerritos (Calif.) Junior College, committed to Arizona in April and was able to watch a few UA spring practices to jump-start the learning process during informal summer workouts.
He completed 160 of 286 passes for 2,319 yards, with 31 touchdowns and 11 interceptions last season. He also rushed 92 times for 430 yards and seven scores.
Denker has two seasons of eligibility left, with no redshirt year available, having sat out the 2010 season at Cerritos.
He attended North Torrance High in California, leading his team to a 9-2 record in his final season. He rushed for 2,432 yards and 29 touchdowns with 12 interceptions as a senior, also rushing 102 times for 750 yards seven touchdowns.
“Coming out of high school I think he just lacked the size and frame a top school wanted, so just the maturity in his body is what he needed, and he grew up a lot as well,” North coach Todd Croce told the Torrance Daily Breeze in April.
“He’s definitely a guy who can keep on playing. It was just a matter of him being patient and picking the right school. He didn’t jump at something he wasn’t ready to take, and I think it paid off.”
Denker, as are all the Arizona newcomers, are off limits to the media during fall camp.
“He’s a mobile quarterback. He moves around a lot and has a pretty good arm as well,” Scott said. “He’s picking it up and getting acclimated pretty fast.”