The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

78° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Transfer portal trends: Looking at who’s joining Arizona football

Jayden+De+Laura+quarterback+on+the+Arizona+football+team+throws+a+short+pass+on+Oct.+8+in+Arizona+Stadium.+The+wildcats+would+loose+the+divisional+game+49-22.%26nbsp%3B
Nathanial Stenchever

Jayden De Laura quarterback on the Arizona football team throws a short pass on Oct. 8 in Arizona Stadium. The wildcats would loose the divisional game 49-22. 

Last year, the Wildcats were focused on creating an offensive core through the transfer portal. This offseason has shown an increased emphasis on the defensive side of the ball.

In 2022, the portal brought important additions including quarterback Jayden de Laura, wide receiver Jacob Cowing, running back D.J. Williams and defensive lineman Tiaoalii Savea.

De Laura won the starting job immediately. He threw for 3,685 yards, good for third in the Pac-12, and 25 touchdowns, good for sixth in the conference. Cowing led the team in receptions, posted over 1,000 receiving yards and was second on the team with seven touchdowns. Williams was second on the team in both rushing yards and attempts behind starter Michael Wiley.

Jacob Cowing, a wide receiver on the Arizona football team, tosses the ball to a referee after a play at the game against the University of Colorado Boulder on Saturday, Oct. 1, at Arizona Stadium. The Wildcats would go on to win the game 43-20 and advance their record to 3-2.
Jacob Cowing, a wide receiver on the Arizona football team, tosses the ball to a referee after a play at the game against the University of Colorado Boulder on Saturday, Oct. 1, at Arizona Stadium. The Wildcats would go on to win the game 43-20 and advance their record to 3-2.

 

Additions

The headline portal acquisition is former University of Oregon linebacker Justin Flowe. The former consensus five-star recruit seemed to fall short of expectations at Oregon. Flowe played in just one game in his 2020 freshman season due to the COVID-19 pandemic and injuries. In his 2021 freshman season, Flowe appeared in just one game: the season opener against California State University Fresno.

Flowe posted 14 total tackles in the game, including five solo-tackles, one tackle for a loss and a forced fumble. He was named the Pac-12 freshman of the week in week one. Though he missed the remainder of the season, his performance kept Oregon fans optimistic.

During his redshirt freshman season in 2022, Flowe didn’t play up to expectations. He played in 10 of a possible 13 games last season. Once again, his best performance came in the season opener against the University of Georgia, who was ranked at No. 3 in the AP Poll and went on to win the National Championship game. Flowe recorded 10 tackles, with five of them solo and a tackle for a loss.

He finished the season with 35 total tackles, five tackles for a loss, and two quarterback hits. Flowe failed to notch a single sack in his time in Eugene.

Joining Flowe in the desert is defensive lineman Bill Norton, who spent the last four years at Georgia. He was a rotational piece of the Bulldogs’ championship-caliber squad and earned a ring in the 2021 season. He entered the transfer portal before the Bulldogs were crowned champions on Jan. 9, committing to Fisch’s program on Dec. 7, 2022.

In his time as a Bulldog, Norton appeared in 20 games over four seasons in a rotational and special teams role. He posted 13 total tackles — five of them solo — and 3.5 tackles for loss.

What Norton brings to the Arizona program is size in the trenches. Arizona’s roster lists him at 6-foot-6 and 300 pounds, making him the second-tallest along the defensive line. He is also one of four players along the defensive line weighing in at 300 pounds or more.

Another attractive part of Norton’s game is his Southeastern Conference (SEC) experience.

Widely regarded as the best division in college football, even making it onto the roster of one of the 14 universities’ football teams is an accomplishment. Norton’s experience both playing and practicing against the best competition in college football could prove extremely valuable for the Wildcats.

Other additions from the portal are former University of California Berkeley linebacker Orin Patu, former UCLA defensive lineman Tyler Manoa and former University of Washington linebacker Daniel Heimuli. Manoa spent five years as at UCLA, most recently appearing in four games on the offensive line in the 2022 season. Patu spent four seasons at Cal and appeared in 12 games last year posting seven total tackles. Heimuli appeared in six games for Washington in 2022 and posted 5 solo tackles last season.

Losses

The story of the offseason for the Wildcats has been loss.

 

Dorian Singer (5) and Tanner McLachlan (84) celebrate a touchdown in a game against USC on Oct. 29 at Arizona Stadium. The Wildcats would go on to lose the game 37-45.
Dorian Singer (5) and Tanner McLachlan (84) celebrate a touchdown in a game against USC on Oct. 29 at Arizona Stadium. The Wildcats would go on to lose the game 37-45.

 

Wide receiver Dorian Singer and defenders Jerry Roberts, Paris Shand, Kyon Barrs and Christian Roland-Wallace all transferred. Though Shand was poached by Louisiana State University, two main destinations stood out: USC and the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Roland-Wallace and Singer, two key contributors for multiple seasons, both landed at USC with the Trojans’ second-year head coach Lincoln Riley. Barrs also transferred to USC. The three former Wildcats will remain in the Pac-12 and are destined to face Arizona on Oct. 7 when Arizona heads to Los Angeles.

UMass was a popular destination for former Wildcats. UMass’ football team is led by former Arizona defensive coordinator Don Brown, who was hired in November of 2021 after just one season with the Wildcats. He previously spent five years as the defensive coordinator for the University of Michigan, earning the nickname “Doctor Blitz” during his tenure.

The Minutemen were able to steal away Roberts, who had originally planned to return to Arizona for a third year after spending his first four seasons at Bowling Green State University. Alongside Roberts were wide receiver Anthony Simpson, running back Jalen John, defensive lineman Jermaine Wiggins Jr. and linebacker Tyler Martin.

Arizona football defense makes a group tackle against a North Dakota State University running back on Saturday Sept. 17 in Arizona Stadium. The Wildcats would win 31-28 and advance their record to 2 and 1. 
Arizona football defense makes a group tackle against a North Dakota State University running back on Saturday Sept. 17 in Arizona Stadium. The Wildcats would win 31-28 and advance their record to 2 and 1.

Wiggins and Martin, who didn’t see any action during the 2022 season, are both Massachusetts natives. Simpson played his high school football in Bloomfield, Connecticut, just an hour south of Amherst, Massachusetts. For Roberts, the second transfer in his seven seasons of college football was motivated by coaching and family.

“It’s a family reunion,” Roberts says in a Twitter post.

When Brown was hired by UMass, linebackers coach Keith Dudzinski followed to take the defensive coordinator position. The Brown-constructed staff and roster was a big motivation for Roberts. His younger brother, Jyree Roberts, is also committed to play linebacker for the Minutemen in the 2023-24 season.

The Wildcats lost a fair amount of production, both young and veteran, to the transfer portal. The main goal for the Wildcats is now to build on the promising young corps they have established on offense and defense.


Follow Mason Duhon on Twitter


More to Discover