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Top 50 football players in Arizona Wildcats history: No. 23 Tony Bouie

Photo illustration by azcentral sports.

Photo illustration by azcentral sports.

Position, years at UA: Free safety, 1991-94

Honors, accomplishments at UA: Was a consensus All-American in 1994 (joining a pair of teammates in that honor — DE Tedy Bruschi and PK Steve McLaughlin). … First-team All-Pac-10 in 1993, when he tied for the conference lead with six interceptions. … His 13 career interceptions are tied for eighth in school history.

Why he made our list: Tony Bouie broke into the starting lineup three games into his redshirt freshman season and became a fixture in the program’s Desert Swarm defenses, starting 45 consecutive games.

He was involved in one of the most memorable plays from UA’s 16-3 victory over top-ranked Washington in 1992, smacking receiver Jason Shelley an instant after he caught a pass. The ball popped up, allowing cornerback Keshon Johnson to pick it off as the Wildcats were protecting a 9-3 lead.

“He was one of the most-polished players at UA during the time I played,” said Heath Bray, who ended up moving from free safety in his career in part because of the presence of Bouie. “Very cerebral.”

Bouie’s 1993 season actually was better than his 1994 season, when he played with a slightly separated left shoulder and pinched nerve, suffered in the last fall scrimmage. That affected his practice time and tackling ability.

Still, his reputation was such, and the defense so good, that his contributions earned him All-America honors as a senior.

“He was undersized, but he was so bright and he made play after play after play when he got on the field,” former UA coach Dick Tomey said. “He was just legitimately an All-American.”

Life after college: Undrafted, Bouie signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and played in 57 games over four seasons, when he also took the time to earn a master’s degree from UA.

After his playing days, Bouie added to his education with a master’s in business administration from Arizona State. In 2004 he founded a company called Halo Cups, which produced drink cups with an attached lid; the company counted UA concessions among its clients.

He beat Stage 4 lymphoma in 2008 at age 35, which gave him renewed drive to do something he figured he would do later in life — get involved in politics. In a heated race, he didn’t make it out of the Republican primary for state representative from District 6, which includes north Phoenix and Anthem. In 2010, he lost in the primary for state senate from District 4.

Bouie tried coaching, working as a graduate assistant at Akron in 2011 under former UA assistant Rob Ianello, but returned to entrepreneurial ways. Bouie helped launch a cellphone referral business last fall.

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.

Arizona’s top 50

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

No. 37 — Dana Wells

No. 36 — Tom Tunnicliffe

No. 35 — Bruce Hill

No. 34 — Chuck Osborne

No. 33 — Brandon Sanders

No. 32 — Sean Harris

No. 31 — Mike Thomas

No. 30 — Bobby Wade

No. 29 — T Bell

No. 28 — Joe Salave’a

No. 27 — Eddie Wilson

No. 26 — Chuck Levy

No. 25 — Allan Durden

No. 24 — Nick Foles

* * *

You can see Bouie’s hit in the 1992 Washington game that led to the Keshon Johnson interception. The play starts at about the 42-second mark.

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