It has been a busy offseason for the Arizona football program. With a coaching change, a completely revamped system on both sides of the ball and two hectic months of recruiting, the Wildcats have been constantly working towards reshaping the team in time for the start of the 2012 campaign.
Perhaps the biggest addition to the roster over the past couple of months has been transfer Brian Wagner. The former Akron stand out graduated with a year of football eligibility left and decided he would like to play a season of college football at a higher level. He ultimately chose UA, where he is expected to start at one of the three linebacker spots.
Since his arrival in January, Wagner has become more familiar with Arizona and has enjoyed his experience thus far.
"I really like it out here," Wagner said. "The team has been accepting. It's been kind of crazy the first two days trying to get the hold of the defense, but overall it has been a good experience. I am really enjoying myself in Arizona. I am just trying hard to help the team win."
Wagner not only contributed for the Zips, he ranked in the top-20 nationally in tackles in each of his three years one the field at Akron. In 2011, he finished tied for fourth in the country with 147 stops. Wagner is hoping to come in and produce in a similar fashion but, more importantly, he wants to assist in the improvement of the program.
"I played a little bit over at Akron," Wagner said. "I am hoping to come here and help the team anyway I can. I know they've got some great players here. I am trying to just come in here and help turn this program around and win a lot more games than three next year."
Wagner and Jake Fischer figure to be two of the starters at linebacker. Fischer is returning from an ACL injury that sidelined him for the entire 2011 campaign, but has looked fully recovered in the early practice sessions. Wagner views Fischer as the leader of the defense and has come away impressed with what he has seen from the junior linebacker.
"If you ask anyone on the team for a tough dude they're going to say Jake Fischer," Wagner said. "It's been great getting to know him and right now I would say he is the leader of the defense. He knows exactly what he is doing and he sets a really good example. It's been great working with him for the past two months that I have been here."
The defense Wagner will play in will require a bit of an adjustment for the former Akron standout. He played in a more traditional scheme for the past three years, but is still getting his feet wet in the system designed by UA defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel.
"It's interesting," Wagner said. "It's definitely not a defense like the 4-3 that I ran last year. It's really different. You have to know exactly where everyone is."
More than anything, Wagner is just excited for a new beginning. He is looking forward to playing against a stronger level of competition and hopes he can help guide the team to a successful 2012 campaign.
"I'm excited," Wagner said. "I just want to come in and help the team win any way I can. We played some big schools at Akron, but playing in the Pac-12, a big school week to week is kind of a different thing, but I'm excited."
Wagner looking to help
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