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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Wide Receivers coach Dews plays important role in success of Wildcat offense

Rebecca Noble

Arizona assistant coach Tony Dews, center, speaks to Abraham Mendivil, left, and Samajie Grant, right, at practice on Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2015. Dews manages the wide receivers.

People love to criticize the performance of actors whenever a blockbuster movie is released. There isn’t any love or respect for the people behind the scenes, such as the director, producer and writers.

In reality, those contributors are who actually make the movie a possibility.
Arizona football assistant coach Tony Dews might have the most important role for the Wildcats this season.

Of course there are the lead roles such as quarterback Anu Solomon and linebacker Scooby Wright III, but Dews, along with other assistant coaches, are what make the team a well-oiled machine.

Dews coaches the wide receivers, a position group that, on paper, appears to be one of the deepest in not only the Pac-12 Conference, but also nationally. That was the tale last season, but times have changed from a year ago.

Dews, now going into his second season, might be the most essential piece of Arizona’s coaching staff.

For the first time in the Rich Rodriguez era, Arizona faithful will know who’s going to be the starting quarterback heading into the season, and having Solomon back can strengthen the receiving group.

The only departure from the receiving core is Austin Hill, due to graduation. On top of that, Nate Phillips is also returning from a season ending foot injury suffered in 2014.

“One player that surprised us in the scrimmage and stood out to us was [Phillips],” Dews said. “[He] had a great scrimmage, but other than that, no individual receiver has stood out us.”

There are different roles even with familiar faces returning. If this were a movie, Arizona’s leading cast would be David Richards, Samajie Grant and Cayleb Jones. The supporting cast would include Nate Phillips, Trey Griffey and freshman Shun Brown.

“That’s what makes our receiving core so great — is that I’m able to throw in six or seven guys in our rotation,” Dews said.

It’s still unclear about who’s going to take the alpha dog role, but having Richards, a redshirt senior and the biggest receiver on the team standing at 6’4”, means an Arizona veteran could fill that role.

Grant could be another option to lead the wide receivers, as he attempts to make his last season in Tucson one to remember considering his troubled finish last year. Grant was cited for DUI and was suspended for the first half of the Pac-12 Championship.

Grant’s troubles late last season shone a light on another aspect of Dews’ job.

Football isn’t everything for the assistant and receivers coach. He understands the principles in preparing young men for the real world once Arizona Stadium stops being their home.

With players hailing anywhere from Compton, Calif., to Orlando, Fla., and coming from different backgrounds, Dews applies the same coaching techniques for any player.

Not every player makes it to the NFL, so applying life lessons while coaching the game seems to be the best mix for a bright future.

“When we go out to recruit, we always ask the recruits what they want to do once football ends,” Dews said. “Not getting a degree doesn’t mean your life ends, it just makes it harder than[if one actually gets] a degree.”

Whether Dews is coaching corner routes or handing out life tips, his role as coach of Arizona’s most dynamic position group is integral to the team’s success.

If Dews can control this cast of receivers, the ending to Arizona’s season can result in a grand finale. And Dews being the director, it might also result in his calling Tucson home for many years to come.

Follow Justin Spears on Twitter.

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