WR Mike Thomas

2007 Statistics

Coach: Mike Stoops
17-29, 4 years
2007 Record: 5-7
at Brigham Young LOST 7-20
at California LOST 27-45
at Oregon State LOST 16-31
at Southern California LOST 13-20
at Washington WON 48-41
UCLA WON 34-27
at Arizona State LOST 17-20

2007 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-UR, BCS-UR

2008 Outlook

It’s time for Mike Stoops to either get the job done here or consider that someone else may be better suited to actually turn this program around. Expectation is a continual state of mind in Tucson – it has been since 1998 (when they finished 12-1 and No.4 in final AP poll) that Arizona has earned a winning record. And for 17 years leading up to ’98, there were only two losing seasons, so fans are wondering what has happened to their once feared program. Stoops has to find answers, and we mean now with his recruits now spanning the roster.

The only troubles on offense are in finding sustained balance. This offense will be lethal if the ground game picks up even modestly. That can happen, but will Stoops and OC Sonny Dykes commit to pounding Grigsby enough to draw defenders into the box? Running it only 38% of the time won’t due, as was proven against better defenses. Issues along the line seem to point to the ample passing continuing, that is, if spring ball spoke to this issue at all.

Any sign of effective run stopping will mean improvements for the entire D. The sizable turnover is pretty intimidating for Stoops’s brother Mark, but there is plenty of speed and talent with which to work. The quality at safety means the play can stay in front of the deepest Wildcat stoppers. Reproducing the coverage provided by two all-league guys who started together on the outside for four straight years will be the toughest chore, and foes will test the corners until they prove they can handle the extra attention. With new linebackers who are not proven in coverage, it could be a long year for those safeties.

In the end, the schedule works for Arizona to make the most of their lacking areas. Three warm up games will allow UA to ramp up the running game and break in the corners. UCLA and Oregon are the toughest away games, and Cal, USC, Oregon State and the rival Sun Devils all come to Arizona Stadium. It’s a good year to rebuild a defense and find a running game.

Projected 2008 record: 7-5
QB Willie Tuitama
QB - 4 DL - 3
RB - 3 LB - 3
WR - 4.5 DB - 3
OL - 3.5 ..
2007 Statistical Rankings
Total Off:
Sacks Allow:
Total Def:

Passing: Willie Tuitama, 327-524-12, 3683 yds., 28 TD

Rushing: Nic Grigsby, 161 att., 704 yds., 2 TD

Receiving: Mike Thomas, 83 rec., 1038 yds., 11 TD

Scoring: Jason Bondzio, 21-26 FG, 37-38 PAT, 100 pts.

Punting: Keenyn Crier, 59 punts, 43.7 avg.

Kicking: Jason Bondzio, 21-26 FG, 37-38 PAT, 100 pts.

Tackles: Ronnie Palmer, 83 tot., 54 solo

Sacks: Jonathan Turner, 3.5 sacks

Interceptions: Nate Ness, 5 for 91 yds.

Kickoff returns: Mike Thomas, 26 ret., 23.7 avg., 0 TD

Punt returns: Mike Turner, 1 ret., 5.0 avg., 0 TD


OFFENSE: Chris Jennings-RB, Anthony Johnson-TE, Peter Graniello-OT
DEFENSE: Louis Holmes-DE, Jason Parker-DE, Yaniv Barnett-DT, Lionel Dotson-DT, Dane Krogstad-SLB, Spencer Larsen-WLB, Antoine Cason-CB, Wilrey Fontenot-CB, Dominic Patrick-FS

The first year under coordinator Sonny Dykes was a productive one, if due to nothing more than the passing clinic offered by Willie Tuitama. Admittedly, 2007 had much to do with feeling out everything from players to how each fit into different scenarios. Four WRs or three WRs and a TE? Two TEs or one TE and a FB?…stuff like that had to be pounded out. The “personality” of the offense still has developmental aspects – especially in the running game – that need approaching before it will be deemed “well adjusted”.

The spring practices did little to convince anyone glancing the Wildcat’s way that the passing game will be toned down in 2008. Tuitama, the nation’s No.5 pro-style prospect upon entering the college level, is worthy of building the offense around…but throwing the rock 500+ times again without a dedicated ground attack will continue to telegraph how defenses should play UA. Bryson Beirne has yet to take a snap at this level; otherwise, sharp decision-making makes Beirne look like he could be even better than Tuitama once given the chance to develop.

Nic Grigsby has even more to prove after his freshman campaign – a stellar effort that buoyed the ground attack - has many anticipating his sophomore bump. Grigsby has soft hands (35 catches in just seven starts) and will become a serious third-down threat in the flat since he isn’t big enough to guarantee ground yards in the clutch from the Cat’s one-back set(s). The problem is finding depth, for no one in ’07 (now-departed Jennings nor Xavier Smith) was on Grigsby’s level. The hope is that incoming frosh Keola Antolin’s impact will be like Grigsby’s was last year – an unexpected boost. The running game can’t develop, though, if it isn’t given enough reps; foes have to be forced to commit at least seven to the box on every play.

The receivers need only to replace oft-used TE Tony Johnson, and Gronkowski’s 18.8 yards per catch seems like it will still be enough from this vaunted position. But A.J. Simmons should bolster the slot even more with his tough, athletic ways. Senior All-American Mike Thomas has quietly positioned himself to become the team’s career leader in both receptions and receiving yards, as well as all-purpose yards. The league leader in ’07 for catches (83) and TDs (11), Thomas is the new slot/H-Back guy, for emergency outlets. Turner has the size to win most jump balls, with Dean sliding into the Z slot to capitalize on his 6’4 superiority. Reese headlines a deep group of reserves just waiting to help Tuitama make the highlight reel(s).

It all comes back around to the line, and the reviews from the highly productive spring game show they have taken a corner in reflecting more cohesion. Britton not shifting to the left side will be a good sign that Trethaway is making the grade. C Blake Kerley making more strides will go a long way toward having his abilities match his emotional level of leadership. Longacre is good when traditional plays are called, but he struggles when made mobile. Baxter moves better, yet will size issues continue to marginalize his gritty approach? Even with all of their experience, keeping a wait-and-see attitude toward the OL providing the needed holes (so the running game can be leaned upon more) remains a smart, cautious approach. Pac Ten defenses are too savvy, so establishing the ground attack is the difference between finishing around .500 or going for double-digit wins.


OT Eben Britton


Returning Starters/
Key Players
QB Willie Tuitama-Sr (6-3, 220) Bryson Beirne-Fr (6-3, 214)
RB Nic Grigsby-So (5-10, 178) Xavier Smith-Jr (5-11, 210)
WR Terrell Turner-Jr (6-2, 190) Terrell Reese-So (6-4, 205)
WR Mike Thomas-Sr (5-8, 195) William Wright-Fr (5-9, 175)
WR Delashaun Dean-So (6-4, 198) Devin Veal-Fr (5-11, 170)
TE Rob Gronkowski-So (6-6, 260) A.J. Simmons-So (6-3, 250)
OT James Tretheway-Sr (6-6, 305) J'Marcus Webb-Jr (6-7, 310)
OG Colin Baxter-So (6-4, 295) Conan Amituanai-So (6-4, 310)
C Blake Kerley-Jr (6-2, 285) Herman Hall-Jr (6-3, 325)
OG Joe Longacre-Sr (6-3, 315) Jovon Hayes-Fr (6-2, 300)
OT Eben Britton-Jr (6-6, 310) Bill Wacholz-Sr (6-6, 310)
K Jason Bondzio-Sr (5-9, 165) Alex Zendejas-Fr (5-11, 175)



Coordinator Mark Stoops only gets four starters back from last year’s balanced unit. Three of them are DBs, Stoops specialty since arriving here from Coral Gables (Miami) with his brother four years ago, so continuing the secondary’s strong results is expected. Nate Ness matched Cason’s five INTs, proving why he was a coveted JUCO All-American whose up side isn’t fully realized. Troubles with the new corners could spell Ness bumping into one of the outside slots. Ross looks like the best of those looking to replace either of the departed four-year starters, using guts as much as skill to get the job done. No matter how good he and Hundley are, teams will test them early and often after years of passing frustrations when playing UA. The depth at safety means Hall likely becomes the nickel unless Turner is everything his billing promises. Cam Nelson ties Stoops’s schemes together with his point guard mentality of overseeing the show.

The only trouble in coverage appears to be the underneath aspects due to bigger linebackers. The LBs can move OK, but the outside guys all have to step up. The entire corps looks better in run plugging, but so far (in spring ball), beating up on the Wildcat’s own anemic running game proves little. Palmer covers much ground, as does Kelley. McCovy healthy is a strong asset, but back troubles kept him out for a majority of 2007. These LBs could really take of as a group if the line can handle stopping the run without much help.

Jonathan Turner has starting experience, yet after 12 games last year, his stat line seemed lacking. Big, quick Ricky Elmore should break out after learning the ropes as a freshman. Tackle Mitchell is a gamble with his smaller size, and though athletic, taking on those better opposing interior OLmen will prove whether his investment pays off or not. Depth provides no more girth inside, but newbie Solomon Koehler should be just what Arizona needs. Replacing four starters up front will show at first, but look for the Stoops coaching machine to work its magic with the resources available.


DB Nate Ness


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE Jonathan Turner-Sr (6-3, 262) Brooks Reed-So (6-3, 260)
DT Earl Mitchell-Jr (6-2, 265) Donald Horton-Jr (6-0, 275)
DT Lolomana Mikaele-So (6-2, 285) Kaniela Tuipulotu-So (6-2, 280)
DE Ricky Elmore-So (6-5, 260) D'Aundre Reed-So (6-4, 240)
SLB Adrian McCovy-Sr (6-3, 225) Vuna Tuihalamaka-Jr (6-4, 240)
MLB Ronnie Palmer-Sr (6-3, 245) Chris Gronkowski-Jr (6-2, 245)
WLB Xavier Kelley-Jr (5-11, 215) Sterling Lewis-Jr (5-11, 225)
CB Devin Ross-Jr (5-11, 170) Trevin Wade-Fr (5-11, 175)
CB Marquis Hundley-Sr (6-0, 175) Mike Turner-So (5-11, 188)
SS Cam Nelson-Jr (6-1, 200) Corey Hall-Jr (5-10, 190)
FS Nate Ness-Sr (6-1, 190) Brandon Tatum-Jr (6-1, 210)
P Keenyn Crier-So (6-1, 200) ..


Punting is a Wildcat specialty; Crier, a possible All-American if his numbers can remain consistent, makes field position battles very winnable. Bondzio is a field goal machine…a senior who won’t be missed after ’08 since another from the Zendejas lineage – RS freshman Alex – is next in line. Corner Ross as the next punt returner makes sense since Cason also was used for his defensive know-how in case of a fake. Ross and WR Thomas will stay in favor as a KR tandem.