The Arizona Wildcats enjoyed a great first season under new head coach Rich Rodriguez in 2012, finishing 8-5 after a thrilling 21-point rally in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl against the Nevada Wolfpack. There are plenty of questions for Rodriguez and company to answer this offseason if they hope to repeat their solid showing this season, but chief among them: How will Arizona replace Matt Scott?
Scott got the most out of his one year as a starter, earning second-team All-Pac-12 honors and finishing sixth in the nation with 342.8 yards of total offense per game. He single-handedly made Rodriguez’s transition to Tucson much smoother and will be a huge hole to fill this spring and into next fall.
Currently, the Wildcats have a pair of junior college transfers in B.J. Denker, the backup in 2012 after coming on late last summer, and Jesse Scroggins, a former USC Trojans prospect who went the JC route after some academic issues. Both have some skills to offer, but neither makes Wildcats’ fans feel sure about their chances in 2013.
That leaves the door open for a third, youthful option to make an impact. And it just so happens that Arizona has the commitment of the quarterback that Sports Illustrated ranked as the No. 1 “instant impact” incoming freshman QB in Anu Solomon. During his recruitment, according to Solomon, Arizona coaches told him they wanted him to come in and compete for the starter’s job on day one.
Solomon was a four-year starter at his high school where he led the team to a 57-3 record and four Nevada state titles. The Las Vegas native finished his high school career throwing for 10,112 yards and 138 touchdowns to just 17 interceptions. He participated against the very best competition in high school, playing against high school powerhouses from California, Florida, Arizona, New Jersey and Maryland.
That high level of competition could help the four-star signal caller take hold of the starting job quickly. He’ll have to, since Solomon won’t be able to report until fall camp, making the learning curve for the true freshman dangerously steep.
With the lack of prep time, it might be the wiser choice to redshirt Solomon and allow him a year to acclimate himself to the college game. We saw plenty of redshirt freshman quarterbacks dominate in 2012, including Marcus Mariota and Brett Hundley in the Pac 12. If Rodriguez can hold off on pushing Solomon into the starter’s role, he could reap serious benefits for it in 2014.
But Rodriguez may not get that luxury. There’s a serious hole to fill at the quarterback position and if his junior college backups in 2012 don’t step up and take control, it will be a youth takeover in the desert next season.