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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Shouldering the load

    Shouldering the load Tackle one of few upperclassmen in predominantly young unit Offensive tackle Peter Graniello (76) stands poised at the line of scrimmage before the snap during Arizonas 28-10 win over Stephen F. Austin last season. The lineman is the only senior on an offensive line that was introduced to three freshmen last year.
    Shouldering the load Tackle one of few upperclassmen in predominantly young unit Offensive tackle Peter Graniello (76) stands poised at the line of scrimmage before the snap during Arizona’s 28-10 win over Stephen F. Austin last season. The lineman is the only senior on an offensive line that was introduced to three freshmen last year.

    During the past four seasons the Arizonafootball team has gone through more upsand downs than a Sears Tower elevator, andsenior tackle Peter Graniello has been there for all of them.

    Since Graniello redshirted as a freshman in 2003, the Wildcats have been bad, they have been good, they have had high expectations, they have knocked off powerhouses and they have been brutally beaten.

    “”Peter has played a great deal here, and he has to be the steadying force up there,”” said head coach Mike Stoops. “”He was banged up last year, but now he is healthy and has had a solid camp, so I think it is going to help lead him into a much more productive year.””

    The 6-foot-6, 310-pound veteran has made more career starts (33) than sophomore starters Eben Britton, Blake Kerley and Daniel Borg combined, but the last 12 may have been the toughest.

    After tearing the labrum in his right shoulder last year, Graniello started all 12 games in Arizona’s 6-6 campaign, despite being in a large amount of pain. Following the season, Graniello underwent surgery to repair his injured shoulder, forcing him to miss all of spring practice.

    Now Graniello said it is great to be healthy and 100 percent for the fi rst time in over a year. He has participated in summer workouts, learning Arizona’s new pass- heavy spread offense.

    “”Playing in that much pain was pretty tough last year,”” Graniello said. “”I had a bunch of (shoulder) straps to restrict it and stuff, so it wasn’t fun.””

    This year could pose a whole new set of problems. After a 2006 season in which the offensive line struggled immensely, Graniello will have to anchor a line filled with underclassmen who are looking to build off their freshman years.

    Last season the Wildcats fi nished 115 out of 119 NCAA Division I-A teams in total offense, and starting quarterback Willie Tuitama missed much of the year with multiple concussions, two shortcomings that mainly have fallen on the offensive line.

    “”I think that the new offense and the fact that the guys have a lot more experience is going to make a big difference this year,”” Tuitama said.

    “”Everything’s on me, too. I have to make sure I put us in a good position to make plays.”” This season has inspired hopes of a bowl berth, and one of many questions that remains unanswered is whether the line will come together and perform.

    “”You just need to be a leader to some of these younger guys and just take them under your wing,”” Graniello said. “”A lot of our linemen are young, so if they have questions you just need to be there for them and teach them what they need to know.””

    With the younger linemen excited to kick off the season and prove they have made significant strides towards the goal of having a dependable line, Graniello is still the one they will turn to.

    “”Pete is the veteran of the offensive line, but he is also one of the veterans of the offense,”” Britton said. “”He has the most experience and he is just the go to guy as far as what to do, how to act, and how to be.

    “”Not just on the fi eld, but off the field, Pete is the guy to look up to.””

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