Two freshmen pushing for first-team snaps as Arizona moves through spring ball
As far as training camp is concerned, there’s still loads of time before starters get named. Too much time, frankly, and so much can change between March and August.
Still, someone has to run with the ones right now as coach Jedd Fisch and his Arizona Wildcats navigate their way through spring ball. Specifically on the offensive side of the ball, competition has been good. Fisch likes the playmakers they brought in this offseason and senses they’re starting to get more comfortable within the confines of their new playbook.
“We’re certainly seeing what a guy like Keyan Burnett can do,” Fisch said this week of the true freshman tight end. He said the same of transfer wideout Jacob Cowing and freshman running back Jonah Coleman.
Arizona could be young all over the field next fall. Two guys in particular who are making their moves right now, though, would be offensive lineman Jonah Savaiinaea and quarterback Noah Fifita.
Jayden de Laura, the transfer from Washington State and reigning Pac-12 Offensive Freshman of the Year, is repping with the ones because, as Fisch put it, that’s where he deserves to be right now. But…
“Noah just showed up in January but he’s giving everybody a run for their money,” Fisch said.
He’s had strong remarks for the freshman signal-caller each time he’s spoken to the media since spring ball kicked off. Arizona was in on the 3-star from California for some time. They offered in January of 2021 and earned his commitment less than three months later. A bit undersized (5-foot-10) and somewhat overlooked as a prospect (686th overall prospect, per the 247 Composite), all Fifita did was make dynamic plays in one of the toughest high school football leagues in America at Servite (Calif.).
Arizona has a full quarterback room with de Laura, Fifita, Will Plummer, Gunner Cruz, and Jordan McCloud. For Fifita to continue to stand out is an encouraging development. Good, strong depth at the quarterback spot is something every coach wants and not enough coaches have.
The other freshman to keep an eye on is Savaiinaea. The 6-foot-4 guard from Honolulu is already repping with the ones.
“I like his size, I like his feet, I like his mental toughness, physical toughness. The best players are mentally and physically tough. He’s both,” Fisch said. “I love his presence, the way he handles himself. I know (OC, OL coach Brennan) Carroll is thrilled to death to have him in the room. He deserves to be in that starting spot right now.
“There are no starters in terms of where they’re going to be in training camp—we don’t declare them at this time—but certainly he’s put himself in position to run with the 1s and has done a really good job both in the run game and in the pass game.”