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Top 50 football players in Arizona Wildcats history: No. 14 Dennis Northcutt

Photo illustration by azcentral sports.

Photo illustration by azcentral sports.

Position, years at UA: Wide receiver, 1996-99

Honors, accomplishments at UA: Was a consensus All-American as a returner/all-purpose player in 1999. … Was first-team All-Pac-10 that season as a receiver. … Set the school season receiving record with 1,422 yards as a senior. … Led nation in punt returns in 1999 (18.96-yard average) and was second in all-purpose yardage (187.4 per game).

Why he made our list: Dennis Northcutt, from Dorsey High in Los Angeles, arrived at UA as a small, quick athlete with multiple talents.

“Dennis probably lied to us out of high school. He said he weighed 165,” former UA coach Dick Tomey said. “He was like 148 when he showed up.”

But Tomey couldn’t keep him off the field. UA tried Northcutt at cornerback, tailback (briefly) and receiver as a true freshman. He intercepted two passes as a backup against Iowa, returning one for a touchdown, and later that season scored on a reception. He was UA’s first player since 1975 to score on offense and defense.

Starting in 1997, Northcutt became a fixture at receiver for some of the most potent attacks in school history.

“He was such an outstanding skill guy that he could have played corner,” Tomey said. “But he was devastating on offense because he could take a short one and turn it a long one, while being fast enough to get behind the defense, too.”

Northcutt finished with 223 receptions for 3,252 yards and 24 touchdowns at UA.

Life after college: Northcutt had a 10-year NFL career after being selected by Cleveland with the first pick of the second round in the 2000 draft, one spot after teammate Trung Canidate went to the Rams.

Northcutt caught 276 passes for 3,438 yards and 11 touchdowns for the Browns over the next seven seasons, also serving as the team’s main punt returner. He averaged 10.6 yards on his 202 punt returns with Cleveland, taking three back for scores.

He signed as a free agent with Jacksonville in March 2007, catching 44 passes in each of the next two seasons, before finishing his NFL career with Detroit in 2009. His NFL totals: 399 catches for 4,941 yards and 18 touchdowns.

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

No. 18 — Mark Arneson

No. 17 — Chris Singleton

No. 16 — Mike Dawson

No. 15 — Max Zendejas

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