Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Arizona football notes: Ex-Cats still in the NFL playoffs

Trevin Wade breaks up a pass vs. Tampa Bay on Dec. 29. Photo by Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Trevin Wade breaks up a pass vs. Tampa Bay on Dec. 29. Photo by Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Nick Foles lost in the wild-card round, Rob Gronkowski is recovering from ACL surgery last week, Lance Briggs just missed the playoffs with the Chicago Bears.

Nick Folk’s excellent season — 33 of 36 field goal attempts, including hitting two game-winners — couldn’t quite lift the Jets into the postseason.

The most prominent former Arizona Wildcats are out of the playoffs, so who’s left?

Just one former player — second-year defensive back Trevin Wade.

Wade, a seventh-round pick in 2012, had 17 tackles as a rookie for the Cleveland Browns, who cut Wade before this season. The New Orleans Saints signed him to the active roster in mid-November as an injury replacement.

Wade is expected to be a backup cornerback for today’s playoff game at Seattle.

While he’s the only ex-Wildcat active as a player in the postseason, two more are trying to get to the Super Bowl as assistant coaches.

Peter Hansen is an outside linebackers/quality control coach for the San Francisco 49ers. Hansen, in his third year with the team, previously worked with 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh at Stanford. With the Wildcats, Hansen was known as a 6-foot-7 kick-blocking specialist, including swatting a PAT against Washington in the famous 1998 Leap by the Lake game.

Brant Boyer, one of the rocks of Desert Swarm as a tough-guy linebacker, is in his second season as an assistant special teams coach for the Indianapolis Colts. Boyer was a special teams standout in the NFL, helping him stick in the league for 10 years. The Colts play at New England tonight.

* * *

Former Arizona starting safety Mikal Smith has joined his dad’s coaching staff with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Lovie Smith is bringing in his son to coach the safeties. Mikal helped coach the Dallas Cowboys defensive backs this season. Mikal started every game as a sophomore strong safety in 1996 — scoring on an 86-yard interception return, a 75-yard fumble return and a 98-yard interception return — but did not return to the team after his part in a textbook-selling scam. …

New Texas head coach Charlie Strong won’t retain secondary coach Duane Akina, a fixture with the Longhorns under Mack Brown. Akina, who was at Arizona for the entirety of the 14-year ride with Dick Tomey, has had only two employers since 1987 — UA and Texas — which is an unheard run of stability for a college football head coach. (Never mind the month Akina spent on the Arizona staff with Mike Stoops in early 2011 before returning to Austin.) Plenty of folks suggest Akina is the best DBs coach in America, and there would be no argument here. He has coached three Jim Thorpe Award winners (including converted running back Darryll Lewis at Arizona) and had 10 of his former Texas defensive backs on active NFL rosters this season. Can’t wait to see where he ends up next …

Former Arizona All-Pac-10 safety Brandon Sanders announced on Facebook before Christmas that he was the new head coach at Pueblo High School. Sanders spent last season learning from Jeff Scurran’s fast rebuilding job at Catalina Foothills High after three seasons assisting at Pima Community College under Pat Nugent. “I think you have to have a strong base and fundamentals — play football in the right way, go to school the right way, study and do the things to become a better citizen,” Sanders told TucsonCitizen.com. “If you give those kids enough of the right way, I think you build up from there.” Pueblo was 3-7 last season under former Arizona linebacker Adrian Koch. I rated Sanders this summer as the 33rd-best player in UA history.

Search site | Terms of service