The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

96° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Senior class brought winning back to Arizona

Gordon Bates
Gordon Bates / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Arizona head coach Tim Kish said the best way to judge a career is by whether or not the program is in a better place now than it was four years ago.

For the 19 seniors who will walk across the field with their parents this Saturday against Louisiana Lafayette, mission accomplished.

They came to an Arizona football team that was 5-7 the year prior and hadn’t made a bowl game since 1998.

But now, despite a season that will most likely end with only four wins, Arizona football is no longer in a world of hurt.

The majority of these seniors went to three consecutive bowl games for only the second time in program history.

They reshaped the reputation of Wildcats football, giving athletic director Greg Byrne a foundation to build off of.

Would Rich Rodriguez have come to Tucson of these seniors hadn’t developed a winning tradition at Arizona? Probably not.

Sure it was the Brooks Reeds, Ricky Elmores, Nic Grigsbys and Cam Nelsons of the world that ascended Arizona from the bottom of the Pac-10, but the current UA seniors carried out the plan.

Nick Foles developed into the best quarterback in Arizona history. Juron Criner may be the best wide receiver to ever suit up in cardinal and navy.

Trevin Wade and Robert Golden have been Arizona lifers and rock solid leaders in the defensive backfield.

“I can’t complain. I went through some ups and downs but I believe I overcame it and came out real positive,” Wade said. “I’m happy about what I’ve been through and wouldn’t take it for the world.”

Although they aren’t four-year Wildcats, Derek Earls and Paul Vassallo came to Tucson last season and immediately bought into the tradition and gave the Wildcats much-needed talent at linebacker.

“When I first got here in that first spring it was ugly and confusing. Oh it was a mess,” Vassallo said. “It was a great experience. I’m proud that I will be an alum.”

David Douglas, Gino Crump and David Roberts helped make up one of the deepest and most talented receiving corps in the country.

Keola Antolin, despite not having a monster senior season, gave Arizona a much-needed downhill runner while grooming Ka’Deem Carey along the way.

Alex Zendejas delivered a 2009 victory over Arizona in Tempe, while John Bonano admirably cleaned up the mess Zendejas he left in 2010.

Bryson Beirne gave Arizona a coach on the sidelines, and a calm, cool, and collected option at quarterback.

“I definitely have left this football program better than it was when I came here,” Beirne said. “I don’t want to take that back.”

They all did. Arizona’s seniors reshaped Wildcats football for years to come. They battled major adversity this season and ultimately left a legacy that won’t be forgotten.

They’ll mark the end of an era. Rodriguez will come in with new recruits, new coaches and a new style.

But none of that would be possible without these Arizona seniors. Arizona football is far better off than it was four years ago, so based on Kish’s criteria, job well done.

Arizona’s 19 Seniors
WR – Gino Crump
WR – David Roberts
DE – CJ Parish
S – Robert Golden
QB – Nick Foles
LB – Derek Earls
WR – David Douglas
DE – Mohammed Usman
LB – Paul Vassallo
CB – Trevin Wade
WR – Juron Criner
CB – Lyle Brown
K – John Bonano
K – Alex Zendejas
RB – Keola Antolin
QB – Bryson Beirne
LB – Bilal Muhammed
FB – David Hill
S – Adam Gottschalk

More to Discover
Activate Search