NOTE: The original list did not include Brad Anderson, a transfer from BYU.
From the great minds think alike department (or so we say) …
As news broke Monday night of Texas transfer quarterback Connor Brewer committing to Arizona, Brad Allis of WildcatSportsReport.com — one of our website partners — started texted me suggestions about the best transfers in school history.
Turns out, veteran writer Javier Morales — another friend of this website who runs WildAboutAZCats.com — was mulling the very same topic.
He posted his list of the top 10 major-college transfers in school history, and here’s mine (limiting this to the Pac-10/Pac-12 years). Allis focused on QB transfers.
My top-transfer list is below, a baker’s dozen deep.
Time will tell if we’ll have to add Brewer and his former Scottsdale Chaparral High teammate, Notre Dame transfer running back Davonte’ Neal, in a few years.
1. Nick Foles, QB (Michigan State)
Played at Arizona: 2009-11
Can’t argue this one. Foles set the school passing record with 10,011 yards, and as a rookie with the Philadelphia Eagles last season he ended a 39-year drought — to the day — in which a UA quarterback hadn’t thrown a pass in the NFL.
2. Cleveland Crosby, DL (Purdue)
Played at Arizona: 1978-79
Crosby helped Arizona hit the ground running in the Pac-10, earning second-team all-league honors in 1978 and first-team notice a year later. He led the Cats in tackles for loss (16) and sacks (eight) in 1979 before being a second-round pick of the Cleveland Browns.
3. Anthony Smith, DL (Alabama)
Played at Arizona: 1989
No doubting his skill, as he was a first-team All-Pac-10 in his one season as a Wildcat and was so coveted by the pros that he was selected by the Oakland Raiders with the 11th overall pick of the 1990 NFL Draft.
4. Dan White, QB (Penn State)
Played at Arizona: 1993-95
With a big arm and the toughness to take a big hit, he led the offense through the program’s prime Desert Swarm years. And this always bears repeating: In the fourth quarter of three games vs. ASU — all victories, including furious rallies in 1994 and 1995 — he was 21 of 26 for 284 yards and five touchdowns.
5. Jay Dobyns, WR (Arkansas)
Played at Arizona: 1982-84
The Sahuaro High grad spent one season at Arkansas before transferring back home and becoming one of the toughest guys to wear the cardinal and navy. Fearless in traffic, Dobyns was twice honorable-mention All-Pac-10, leading the team with 50 receptions in 1983.
6. Dave Liggins, S (Cincinnati)
Played at Arizona: 1978-80
Coach Tony Mason, who had coached Cincinnati before taking the Arizona job for the 1977 season, brought in several transfers from the Bearcats. Liggins was foremost among them, intercepting Pitt’s Dan Marino twice in the 1979 Fiesta Bowl and earning all-conference honors in 1980.
7. Brad Anderson, WR (BYU)
Played at Arizona: 1981-83
Anderson was a prime target for Tom Tunnicliffe, a yards-after-the-catch guy who averaged 18.4 yards on his 97 career receptions. Anderson, who famously caught a 65-yard TD pass in the 1982 game against Arizona State, was first-team All-Pac-10 as a senior.
8. Marcellus Greene, CB (Cincinnati)
Played at Arizona: 1979-80
He was a second-team All-Pac-10 choice in each of his two seasons at Arizona, and he came up big in the Cats’ 23-17 victory over second-ranked UCLA in 1980, knocking down two fourth-quarter passes, including one that was headed for what was described as a sure touchdown.
9. Dan Buckner, WR (Texas)
Played at Arizona: 2011-12
He talked a good game and then backed it up as a dependable option behind Juron Criner and then Austin Hill. His two-year totals: 103 catches for 1,379 yards and seven touchdowns.
10. Joe Smigiel, OT (Long Beach State)
Played at Arizona: 1992-94
When the 49ers dropped their football program, “Smilin’ Joe” headed to Tucson, where he was labeled a “classic overachiever” by coach Dick Tomey. Smigiel played as a backup as a sophomore and then started 14 games at tackle over his final two seasons.
11. Kevin McKinney, OG (SMU)
Played at Arizona: 1987
The Wildcats landed two Mustangs after the NCAA handed down the death penalty to the SMU program: McKinney and quarterback Bobby Watters. Watters was the bigger star, but he was injured early in his junior year and then split time with Ronald Veal as a senior. McKinney, a full-year starter at left guard, turned out to be the bigger catch.
12. Paul Glonek, DT (Iowa)
Played at Arizona: 1990
He was a big-time high school recruit, a strong interior player, who barely played in college before his senior season because of off-field problems and suspensions, in addition to the transfer. He put things together in 1990, though, leading the Arizona linemen with 48 tackles.
13. Shaquille Richardson, CB (UCLA)
Played at Arizona: 2010-present
This is perhaps a bit of a technicality, but Richardson was briefly enrolled in summer school at UCLA before he and two others were dismissed from the team after being charged with felony theft. He’s been a starter at cornerback for the past two seasons, with seven career interceptions.
Other transfers of note since Arizona joined the Pac-10 in 1978:
Watters, fullback/H-back Chris Gronkowski (Maryland), offensive lineman Vincent Smith (Colorado), receiver Gino Crump (West Virginia), current senior defensive tackle Tevin Hood (Duke, San Diego) and cornerback Mark Streeter (Cincinnati).
Anybody else? Let me know in the comments section or on my Facebook page.
(Cornerback Chris McAlister would obviously top Arizona’s transfer list, but I left him off because he never actually enrolled at UCLA after signing in 1995. UCLA challenged his SAT score, and McAlister spent a year in junior college before moving on to UA.)