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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Freshman lineman Cayman Bundage is country strong for Wildcats

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Colin Prenger / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Down in the trenches of the offensive line, the most physical play on the football field is taking place. Interior linemen can get as tall as 6-foot-9 and exceed 300 pounds.

Freshman lineman Cayman Bundage has what head coach Rich Rodriguez calls a ‘hard edge’ on the football field, which can be best explained as an inherent intensity and toughness.

When Bundage’s helmet comes off and he speaks, intimidation is certainly not the first trait that comes to mind.

His soft voice and Oklahoma drawl don’t exactly create the image of a fearless brute and his 6-foot-2, 265-pound frame makes him the smallest lineman on the Arizona roster.

But once the game starts and Bundage steps onto the field, any semblance of small or weak instantly fades away.

“The thing about Cayman is he’s an animal on the field,” senior receiver Dan Buckner said. “So it really doesn’t matter what he sounds like. When he buckles up his helmet, he goes to work.”

Bundage has received some early playing time, in large part due to injuries that have ravaged Arizona’s offensive line, a tall task for a true freshman at a position where such players typically don’t see the field.

“That’s probably a position that you very rarely will have [a true freshman at],” Rodriguez said. “He’s probably playing sooner than we expected, and sooner than probably he’s even ready to, but he picked up the system really well. He’s not a really big guy, but he’s got great leverage and he’s a tough guy.”

He’s been asked to do a lot in his first season, but that hasn’t fazed Bundage.

“I came in just ready to play and I got my opportunity to and it worked out for the best,” Bundage said.

Bundage first started seeing time in the Wildcats’ upset victory against Oklahoma State, when guard Chris Putton went out briefly with an injury.

“[Bundage] is an amazing player,” Putton said. “I think physically he’s unbelievable. Obviously a lot [of] true freshmen don’t get to play, especially on the offensive line, and he’s done what he has to do.”

Putton returned, but since then the line has been forced to shift around after the injuries to center Kyle Quinn and right guard Trace Biskin, and Bundage has been put in the tough position of blocking for a bowl-contending team in the Pac-12, one of the nation’s top conferences.

“[Bundage’s] progressing probably ahead of schedule of most true freshman in the country,” offensive line coach Robert Anae said.

“He’s a very good leverage player and when he’s on his mark he plays really fast and really competitive.”

But if you only watched Bundage play on the field, you’d never know what he’s like off it.

“My personality, I’m just laid back, just chillin’,” Bundage said.

“And then on the football field, that’s where I really step it up.
“It’s just in me, I guess.”

In fact, fullback/defensive end Taimi Tutogi said that he did a double take when he heard Bundage’s voice for the first time.

“To be honest I was shocked,” Tutogi said. “I was like, “Is that really how you talk?” and I didn’t wanna make fun of him because I didn’t know him when he first got here.

“Then you get to know the person Cayman is and the kind of football player he is, and the sound of his voice doesn’t really matter.”

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