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Five key takeaways from Arizona’s 2023 Pac-12 Media Day

Jedd+Fisch%2C+head+coach+of+the+Arizona+football+team%2C+watches+his+team+on+Nov.+19%2C+at+Arizona+Stadium.+The+Wildcats+would+lose+20-31.%26nbsp%3B
Nathanial Stenchever

Jedd Fisch, head coach of the Arizona football team, watches his team on Nov. 19, at Arizona Stadium. The Wildcats would lose 20-31. 

The Arizona football team was front and center at the Pac-12 Football Media Day, held at Resorts World in Las Vegas. Head coach Jedd Fisch, quarterback Jayden de Laura and defensive back Treydan Stukes arrived with excitement and hope surrounding the Wildcats’ prospects for the upcoming season. Fisch, in his third Pac-12 Media Day, opened from the podium with a state-of-the-program address before sharing his thoughts on the team’s outlook for the year.

Addressing sexual assault allegations: University and de Laura’s Response

Months ago, reports surfaced about Arizona’s starting quarterback being charged in civil court for sexual assault regarding an incident that took place when he was in high school in Hawaii. The investigation is ongoing and the university released a statement in the wake of those reports standing by due process of law and allowing de Laura to remain both on the team and enrolled in the school.

De Laura, while visibly shaken and holding back tears, expressed gratitude to the university for assessing the circumstances and allowing him to continue his education as a student-athlete. He acknowledged the importance of the questions raised but reiterated that he is bound by the law not to discuss the matter. De Laura’s teammates reportedly showed great support during these challenging times, bringing them closer together as a team. 

“My main focus from here on out is football,” de Laura firmly said.

Fisch’s optimism and team outlook

“It’s our best team … the quality of players we have, the talent we have,” Fisch said.

His confidence in this year’s team was a good sign for Arizona fans, especially given the kind of offseason the team had, and on top of that, Arizona was ranked the highest it’s been in the preseason poll since 2018. Fisch‘s unwavering belief in the team’s potential and ability to perform at a high level provides a jolt of excitement and anticipation among Wildcat supporters.

De Laura’s growth as Arizona’s quarterback

Reflecting on the previous season, de Laura opened up about his growth as Arizona‘s starting quarterback

“I feel like we barely scratched the surface last season. I really didn’t reali4ze that T-Mac [Tetairoa McMillan], me, Jacob [Cowing] […] that was kind of our first real season in that scheme. So we really were learning as we went throughout the season,” de Laura shared. 

Despite the challenges, his perseverance and commitment to self-improvement endeared him to his teammates and solidified him as a leader in the Wildcats’ ranks.

Impact of coaching stability

The impact of coaching stability was evident in Arizona‘s progress. Fisch stressed the importance of continuity within the coaching staff, especially on the defensive side, which had seen eight defensive coordinators in eight seasons at one point. 

“What I’m most excited about is the continuity that we have in our program. We have 10 of 11 coaches returning from last year,” Fisch stated. 

This stability allowed players to thrive and grow within a consistent system, fostering camaraderie and unity among the team. The players’ ability to develop and flourish under a consistent coaching philosophy is a key factor in the success of any great program, and Arizona‘s commitment to this philosophy bodes well for their future achievements.

Recruiting success and the path forward

Fisch proudly touted the Wildcats’ recent recruiting success. 

“We’ve had over the last two years, two of the best recruiting classes Arizona has ever had. First time in the history of Arizona football they’ve finished in the top 40 twice in a row,” he emphasized. 

The program’s focus on high school talent and the goal of keeping local players in Arizona showcased their determination to build a competitive team. By supplementing the roster with strategic use of the transfer portal, Arizona aimed to strike a balance between fresh talent and experienced transfers

“I would say this about high school recruiting: that’s the most important thing for us. We’ll sign 28 high school kids every year. That’s kind of been what we’ve done the last two years that I’ve been there, that will be our goal moving forward. We’ve had our two best recruiting classes, this one should be better than that,” Fisch said on his plans for recruiting. 

He emphasized the focus on high school talent while utilizing the transfer portal to supplement if needed. The Wildcats’ commitment to recruiting and nurturing young talent bodes well for their future success, and the strategic approach to the transfer portal ensures that any gaps in the roster will be adequately addressed.

As the Pac-12 Media Day concluded, the Wildcats headed back to their training ground, motivated by Fisch‘s vision and de Laura’s unwavering spirit. Together, they look forward to the upcoming season, ready to tackle the challenges that lie ahead. With a solid foundation, stable coaching and a focus on talent development, Arizona football has set its sights on becoming a force to be reckoned with this season.


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