Larry Tharpe Jr. is a walk-on defensive lineman and prior to Arizona’s game against Utah last week, the redshirt sophomore’s name was virtually unheard of.
Tharpe imposed some promising plays, recording his first career division one tackle and contributing to a defensive line that was able to generate constant pressure all game long.
Regardless of performance, Tharpe was thrilled to have his number called with the opportunity to compete on a big Pac-12 stage.
“It’s a great feeling to have when you’re listed for a game,” Tharpe said. “That’s really the only thing you can ask for is having that chance to go out and compete.
"I’ve been working ever since I got here and that’s what you have to do. I came a little late but I’ve been pushing myself and it’s great to finally see results.”
Tharpe feels the transfer from Tyler Junior College has been an easy one for the most part, but admits grasping a new playbook is no easy task.
“I have a pretty good sense of what we’re doing with the playbook but I still have a lot to learn,” he said. “This defense is a lot more aggressive and there are a lot more blitzes.
"When I was at Tyler last year, it was a lot more base stuff so when you move to defense that has a lot of blitzes, there’s going to be loops and you’ve got to be able to work around all of that.
“Our defense is such a fun group of guys really. Being behind someone like Sani is a privilege because he is just an awesome guy and a great player. He helps me a lot when I make a mistake out there and is always patting me on the back reminding me to live and learn. He’s helping me get better each day.”
While Tharpe attributes pass rushing as one of his premier strengths as player, the walk-on is prepared to put on additional size to improve his play.
“At this point right now my strength would definitely be pass rushing,” Tharpe said. “I think I showed that some last week but I do need to get more size on me to really hold up out there.
"It’s never good to be undersized on the line and I know that I’ll get to a better spot with everything I’m putting in.”
Tharpe looks forward to continuing his mark on the field against USC.
“I just want to go out there and win,” he said. “A lot of people like to get caught up with individual stuff but I’m just trying to go out there and win. That’s what the coaches want more than anything.
“To me USC is just another game. It’s just another opponent and as long as I go out there and make some plays, do what I’m supposed to do, I will be doing my part as a player.”