Farmer and Team report to camp

Nearly four hours after their protégés checked in, it was time for the veterans of the University of Arizona Football team to make their appearances. Hugs, smiles and the anticipation of the new season were contagious throughout the football offices at McKale Center.<p>

While a number of familiar faces from last year's team are gone, new faces on both sides of the ball have stepped in to take their place. With them comes a new defensive scheme, something that sophomore safety Darrell Brooks greatly anticipates.

"It's really exciting because the defense is unexpected and other teams won't know what we're going to be doing," Brooks said. "They're anticipating the flex like we've run for a while. So we're going to throw some different looks at them."

Surprising the Pac-10 and the rest of college football might be what this team will need if it wants to improve on last year's 4-8 record. The Wildcats were recently picked to finish last in the conference by the media. Many though, including sophomore wide receiver, Biren Ealy, are looking forward to the challenge of proving their critics wrong.

"We have something to prove. But we're in a good spot right now because everybody is looking down on us and we feel we can be the sleeper of the Pac-10," Ealy said.

Offensively Ealy is aiming to stretch the defense and was happy about the way they were able to move the ball during spring practice. Along with new receiver coach Mose Risen, Ealy has lofty expectations for the receiver corps.

"Coach Risen brings a lot to the table," Ealy said. "He has excellent credentials and I think we can be one of the best wide receiver groups in the Pac-10."

Spring practice brought about a renewed anticipation for the 2003 season and while the passing game should be sound with the likes of Nic Costa and/or Ryan O'Hara taking the snaps, Head Coach John Mackovic is focusing on two different aspects to carry them into camp.

"We ran the ball well in the spring and I know our players felt good about it and they're going to come back and expect to pick up from there," Mackovic said. "On defense we put our scheme together and the players felt like they could make it work. I know they'll bring that back."

The running game has garnered a lot of attention over the past year with its poor performance during the 2002 season, as well as the issues surrounding Clarence Farmer.

The senior running back made his return and expressed a great deal of emotion about his junior season, as well as an equal amount of uncertainty about 2003.

"Imagine being talked about, ridiculed and your name being smeared all over the press with false accusations. People on your team turning against you, people on staff turning against you and then you have to come back and deal with them for another year," Farmer said.

Despite this statement he feels that "there's no animosity" between himself and his teammates or the staff.

"I don't know what to expect this year," Farmer continued. "It's a big pot of emotions for me right now and I can't pinpoint how I'm going to feel today or tomorrow. I just have to take it a day at a time."

He is anxious to get back on to the field. Despite not knowing how his knee will respond, Farmer is focused on finishing his Wildcat career on a winning team.

"Nothing has changed about that, I want to win. To see all 110 people playing for this team get a championship ring is what's important to me. You can say what you want to say about me, but I know what I'm dedicating myself to doing."

His relationship with Mackovic still seems to be distant at best. Mackovic did say ‘hi' to him at one point during the veteran check-in, but Farmer is content on keeping his lips sealed around the head coach.

"I don't have anything to say to him right now. I'm just going to play the game and won't say anything to him unless I have to," Farmer said.

Four players who did not report today were sophomore halfback Beau Carr, junior offensive lineman Keoki Fraser, senior wide receiver Andrae Thurman and another senior receiver Juan Valentine.

Carr, Fraser and Thurman have academic work that needs to be completed before they can join the team. Valentine is recovering from an ankle fracture and Mackovic is still concerned about the injury.

"There's nobody at this point that I feel cannot finish his work," Mackovic said. "I think every guy can and will do it."

Talk about this on the FOOTBALL MESSAGE BOARD

Wildcat Authority Top Stories