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The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona football notes: safety Bondurant’s breakout, McKnight’s brother unsatisfied in New York

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Colin Prenger / Arizona Daily Wildcat UA football vs OSU on Sept. 8, 2012.

Safety Tra’Mayne Bondurant broke onto the scene for Arizona as a true freshman in 2011 and starred on an otherwise terrible defense.

Bondurant was an honorable mention for the Pac-12 All-Conference after recording 45 total tackles, 3.5 for a loss and one interception. With his switch to the “spur” safety position in the Wildcats 3-3-5 “odd stack” defense, Bondurant seemed poised to be a defensive star for the Wildcats this season.

He had a breakout game against Oregon, recording 10 total tackles and a team-high three for a loss.

“I was just playing hard and trying to focus on getting as many tackles as I can, get any as many stops,” Bondurant said. “We were just trying to get them off the field, so I was going to do whatever I can to help.”

Head coach Rich Rodriguez said Bondurant has a certain feel for the game and can recognize the development of plays quickly.

“We always try to coach it,” Rodriguez said. “But you hope that they have some of it naturally and he does.”

Bondurant’s team-high 6.5 tackles for loss this season seem to back up his ability to diagnose plays quickly, but the sophomore said it’s just something he was blessed with.

“It has to be [from] Jesus,” Bondurant said. “I’ve been doing it for a long time, just playing football. I just go out there and play hard and if I see something I just know to attack.

“If you play at full speed you can always accomplish things you think you can’t. My main focus is always to play fast.”

Toughness is also a trait that defines Bondurant, Rodriguez said, and it’s something he developed from some of the hardships in his life.

“He comes from a tough background, as tough a background of anybody on this team,” Rodriguez said. “I think part of his resolve is due to that.”

One of those hardships came during spring camp when Bondurant’s cousin passed away, causing him to dedicate his No. 21 to him.

“I just learned to always be strong and always be my own man,” Bondurant said, “Always have a strong will [and] heart to just go out there and play at full speed, play for myself and my family.”

McKnight’s brother plays defense for Jets

Corner Jonathan McKnight has established himself as a lockdown corner this season for the Wildcats, snaring an interception in three straight games. Now, his brother will try to do the same thing for the New York Jets in the NFL.

Joe McKnight was a star running back at USC from 2007-2009 and now plays for the Jets.

But with the Jets’ loss of Pro Bowl corner Darrelle Revis, they’ve decided to move Joe McKnight to defense, a move the former Trojan wasn’t particularly happy about.

“I was drafted as a running back,” Joe told ESPN New York. “The way I took it as I wasn’t good enough to play running back — that’s what I took it as. I don’t know if that’s the case or not.”

While Joe McKnight is reportedly unhappy about the change in positions, his younger brother Jonathan McKnight isn’t quite as pessimistic.

Jonathan McKnight said he hasn’t had a chance to talk with his brother yet, but his advice to him is to just listen to the coaches.

“He’s been playing corner since high school,” Jonathan McKnight said. “I’m sure he hasn’t forgotten about it. So hopefully he’ll do a good job there.”

Joe isn’t convinced his high school experience will translate to the NFL.

“That does not help at all,” Joe McKnight said to ESPN New York.

“It’s been a while since I played cornerback, maybe if I’d played cornerback in college four years. Me playing cornerback in high school does not help right now.”

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