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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Flowers blooming early and often

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Mike Christy
The University of Arizona football team takes part in morning practice Thursday, Aug. 19, 2010, at the Rincon Vista Sports Complex in Tucson, Ariz. The Wildcats look to reach a bowl game for the third season in a row with quarterback Nick Foles at the helm. (Photograph by Mike Christy)

After Day 1 of Arizona’s training camp on Aug. 5, one question circulated: which newcomer has impressed the most?

The answer was unanimous — freshman safety Marquis Flowers.

The No. 1 high school player in Arizona is the Wildcats’ prized recruit, and the electric safety has certainly performed as advertised after three weeks of practice.

In fact, Flowers holds the talent and potential to be one of the better players to come out of Arizona in years.

“”I think his potential is unlimited. I don’t think there’s anything he can’t do on the football field,”” said Arizona head coach Mike Stoops. “”He’s one of the most polished players I’ve seen at this stage.””

The praise doesn’t end with Stoops. Seemingly every coach and player has raved about the 6-foot-3, 200-pound super-athlete.

“”Marquis came in ­— he was highly touted, and he has not disappointed,”” said co-defensive coordinator Greg Brown, who said that he thought Flowers could start this season when the freshman signed in February. “”The guy is big, he can run, he can tackle and he’s going to have a great future as a Wildcat.””

Shutdown corner Trevin Wade added: “”He’s smart with the game. He’s big, physically, he’s ready to play.””

Flowers, a Phoenix native and graduate of Millennium High School, doesn’t carry the build or swagger of your average freshman. He’s oozing with confidence, and, even as a baby-faced 18-year-old, Flowers looks like a man amongst boys.

When asked what impresses him most about the freshman, Stoops said, “”Just his physical nature — his size, his speed, his athleticism, his ability to cover. He’s a big guy. There’s really nothing he can’t do on the football field that you want a safety or a nickelback to do.””

Flowers, who has been used in nickel packages throughout practice, is a big hitter who used to model his game after former USC safety Taylor Mays. He’s the definition of a ball-hawk and was once scolded for laying out receiver David Douglas in seven-on-seven drills during camp.

Needless to say, he’s a playmaker.

“”I just want to make plays. Big-time players make big-time plays,”” Flowers said. “”I keep that in my head. I want to be the one to make the play. I want to be the one the defense can count on.””

Although the Wildcats haven’t announced their starting defensive backfield yet, Flowers has a great chance of starting this season with Robert Golden moving to corner and Cam Nelson graduated.

Arizona also figures to feature schemes with more defensive backs, as the majority of its talent lies at cornerback and safety rather than linebacker. So the door is open for Flowers to produce, and he’s ready for the challenge.

“”I have high expectations,”” he said. “”I know what they want out of me, and that’s what I’m going to give.””

Flowers was cited by SI.com as one of the nation’s top-10 impact freshmen and has been a household name in the college football and recruiting realm for quite some time.

He starred at the US Army All-America game in January, was tabbed as a four-star recruit by Rivals.com as well as cracking the nation’s top 100 at No. 78.

Flowers came to Arizona as nothing more than an athlete, as he shined as a running back in high school, rushing for 1,247 yards and reaching the endzone 16 times.

But he made it clear that his main focus is on defense at safety, where he has a chance to state his name in 2010 and for the next three or four years to come.

The defense is full of new blood, especially the secondary, and Flowers should be the catalyst of a new-look Wildcat defensive attack for quite some time.

“”We’re looking forward to a bright future not just between the two of us but as a defense as a whole,”” said sophomore safety Adam Hall. “”We have a good freshman class, and they’re going to mix well with what we have here and what we’re going to have next year and the years to come.””

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