Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Top 50 football players in Arizona Wildcats history: No. 18 Mark Arneson

Photo illustration by azcentral sports.

Photo illustration by azcentral sports.

Position, years at UA: Linebacker, 1969-71

Honors, accomplishments at UA: Was a first-team Sporting News All-American in 1971. … Was the first UA player to be selected to the Playboy preseason All-America team in 1971. … Earned first-team All-WAC honors in 1970 and 1971. … Ranks 10th in school history with 357 tackles.

Why he made our list: Arneson, from Palo Verde High, is one of the better Tucson-raised football players, and he was a bright light for three Bob Weber-coached teams that finished with losing records.

Arneson, strong and quick at middle linebacker, made 110 unassisted tackles in 1970, the third-highest single-season total in school history. He had 15 unassisted tackles in the season opener at Michigan, a 20-9 loss.

“He’s the greatest linebacker I’ve ever played against,” Arizona State center Mike Tomco, a third-team AP All-American, told the Tucson Citizen in 1971. “He didn’t just fill the middle, he was pursuing from end to end.”

Arneson was the first UA player to earn first-team All-American honors for big schools. He played in the Senior Bowl, the East-West Shrine Game and the College All-Star Game (against the Dallas Cowboys) after his senior year.

He is part of a legendary Tucson football family, as his younger brother Jim played offensive line at UA and also went on to the NFL.

Life after college: The St. Louis Cardinals selected Arneson in the second round, No. 32 overall, and he played with the franchise through his entire nine-year NFL career. Arneson, who did not miss a game through his first seven seasons, recovered 18 fumbles in his career.

In 1982, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch selected Arneson as an honorable-mention linebacker on its All-St. Louis team.

After his retirement in 1980, Arneson worked as a general construction and flooring contractor in the St. Louis area. He and his son Erik have been active in leadership roles with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Arneson, 63, lives in Missouri.

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

No. 23 — Tony Bouie

No. 22 — ‘King Kong’ Nolan

No. 21 — Bill Lueck

No. 20 — Walter “Hoss” Nielsen

No. 19 — Trung Canidate

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