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Top 50 football players in Arizona Wildcats history: No. 37 Dana Wells

Photo illustration by azcentral.com

Photo illustration by azcentral.com

Position, years at Arizona: Defensive tackle, 1984-88

Honors, accomplishments at UA: Was a two-time winner of the Pac-10’s Morris Trophy as its top defensive lineman, as selected by the conference’s offensive linemen. … Was also first-team All-Pac-10, as chosen by the coaches, in 1987 and 1988.

Why he made our list: Dana Wells — sometimes overlooked and underrated as a starter on defenses that included Byron Evans, Chuck Cecil and the Singleton twins — compiled a staggering 34 1/2 tackles for loss in his final two seasons.

Wells, a 6-foot-1 nose guard, played with great strength and leverage, but he was most noted for his quick feet, able to accelerate off blocks and get into the backfield. A Phoenix scribe once wrote, “Dana has the dexterity of a gerbil.”

Former UA coach Dick Tomey told TucsonCitizen.com: “He was difficult to block. He was a guy like Rob Waldrop. There just wasn’t anything to block.”

Wells, a Phoenix Brophy Prep graduate, is one of four defensive players who have twice won the Morris Trophy, which has been awarded since 1980. The others are Washington’s Steve Emtman, USC’s Sedrick Ellis and Oregon State’s Stephen Paea.

“That speaks volumes to the reputation he had in the league,” Tomey said.

A few individual highlights:

–A 61-yard interception return for a touchdown vs. UCLA in 1985.

–A late-game sack of ASU’s Jeff Van Raaphorst, forcing a fumble that UA recovered to set up Max Zendejas for a game-winning 32-yard field goal with 1:43 to play in the 1985 rivalry game.

–A fumble recovery at the Washington 6-yard line in the final minute of a 1988 game in Seattle that preceded a 22-yard field goal by Doug Pfaff for a 16-13 victory, the Wildcats’ first win over the Huskies in seven tries.

Life after college: The football career was brief. Wells played in one game for the Cincinnati Bengals in 1989 after being an 11th-round draft pick, and he spent some time on the Cardinals’ practice squad during the 1990 season.

Mostly, Wells has been a runaway success as a businessman, joining CBS Outdoor advertising in 1991 and working his way up to president of the company’s billboard division in 2007. Wells, who lives in Paradise Valley, also is co-owner of 4-year-old colt Silver Max, which has more than $1 million in career earnings on turf tracks. Wells and co-owner Mark Bacon paid $20,000 for Silver Max in 2010.

In partnership with the Arizona Republic, we are counting down the top 50 football players in Arizona Wildcats history. Leave your top 10 at AG’s Wildcat Report on Facebook, and check out azcentral.com for the countdown of ASU’s Top 50 football players.

No. 50 — LaMonte Hunley

No. 49 — Hubie Oliver

No. 48 — Rob Gronkowski

No. 47 — Jim Donarski

No. 46 — Ontiwaun Carter

No. 45 — Steve McLaughlin

No. 44 — John Fina

No. 43 — Glenn Parker

No. 42 — Bobby Lee Thompson

No. 41 — Marcus Bell

No. 40 — Fred W. Enke

No. 39 — Ka’Deem Carey

No. 38 — Juron Criner

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