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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Online Exclusive: Transfer linebacker adjusting to new system

Head coach Rich Rodriguez was unable to land the big prize, Davonte Neal, in recruiting in his first year on the job, but he did receive a nice consolation prize. In a move that went under the radar considering the pursuit of Neal, Rodriguez got former Akron linebacker Brian Wagner to transfer and play his senior year at the UA.

Wagner, a 6-foot, 230-pound middle linebacker, brings an impressive resume with him over from Ohio. In his junior season in 2011, Wagner was the third leading tackler in all of Division IA with 147 tackles in 11 games, or 13.4 per game. To put that in perspective, Arizona’s leading tackler last year was former linebacker Derek Earls with 74, or 6.1 per game.

“(Linebacker) is certainly is a position of need, certainly one of the big reasons why we wanted him to come,” Rodriguez said. “I know hes a smart guy and eager to learn and he did put up big numbers.

“We’re excited about Brian we think he can have a great big senior year for us.”

Wagner said that the transition from the cold winds of Akron, Ohio to the dry-heat of Arizona has gone smoothly. A windy practice on Wednesday certainly helped that.

“It was a little chilly, but I know in Ohio its been a little mild, so it’s been kind of similar I guess,” Wagner said. “I really like it out here, the team’s been accepting. Overall its been a good experience, I’m really enjoying myself and liking Arizona and just trying to help the team win next year.”

Standout defensive back changes his number

In college football, year-to-year many players change their numbers for a variety of reasons. Arizona receiver Dan Buckner notably switched from No. 15 to No. 4 this year, and even went so far as changing his Twitter handle to reflect that.

Defensive back Tra’Maybe Bondurant changed his number, and he has story behind why he did that.

“It’s dedicated to my cousin I just lost, it’s the only reason I changed it from 27 to 21” Bondurant said. “I kind of dedicated the season for him (since) he wore 21. I just represent him.”

Bondurant, who was named All-Pac-12 honorable mention last year as a freshman, said that he has never lacked motivation, but his cousin’s death is certainly a driving force behind him playing his hardest.

“Motivation, that’s automatic, without the death or with it” Bondurant said. “I mean, that pushes me more to play harder and be better for him.”

Last year in 12 games played (six starts), Bondurant recorded 45 tackles, six pass deflections and one interception — which he returned for a touchdown.

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