Arizona knew right away what it had in freshman guard Raymond Pulido
Arizona had a Freshman All-American playing right guard last season. Jonah Savaiinaea started all 12 games for the Wildcats as a first-year player. He showed up in the spring, he outworked his peers, and proved pretty quickly he was going to be an invaluable piece of the offense the Wildcats were constructing.
“Big Jonah,” as he’s affectionately known around Tucson, is kicking out to tackle this fall. Gotta make room for another true freshman to move in and start at right guard.
“It’s kind of ironic that they were both right guards,” coach Jedd Fisch said Friday.
Raymond Pulido — a 6-foot-6 true freshman from Apple Valley, California — will man Savaiinaea’s old spot when Arizona takes the field Saturday against NAU.
Pulido played guard and tackle for his high school. He was a two-sport athlete and a 4-star recruit. Unlike Savaiinaea, he showed up to campus in the summer.
Spring learning wasn’t a thing.
“The size that Pulido walks in with and his high school film told us that — not in the same regard as T-Mac when he walked in, but close — we’re expecting this guy to walk in here and start,” Fisch said. “That was an expectation from the film we saw in high school. That was an expectation when he made the decision to sign with us and where we knew we were with our depth chart.”
The discussion among Arizona coaches wasn’t about whether Pulido would play right away, rather it was about where.
Would Arizona leave Savaiinaea at guard and put Pulido at tackle? Or the other way around. Fisch said offensive line coach Brennan Carroll felt Pulido on the inside and Savaiinaea on the perimeter gave the Wildcats its best five-man grouping.
With Jordan Morgan at left tackle and the veteran Josh Baker at center, a season from Pulido similar to the one Savaiinaea had last year might give the Wildcats a formidable front.