Tuitama hits town

The future is now. Well, at least the future is on campus. Incoming freshman quarterback Willie Tuitama arrived in Tucson over the summer and took his first snaps with the team during voluntary workouts on Monday.

This story was originally premium and is a good example of the type of story that you can find as part of our premium package. It was the first interview with the Wildcat QB after he arrived in Tucson.

Granted it was just an informal work-out, but the first glimpses of the freshman passer seem to confirm all of the great things we have heard about him. He's got nice size and a powerful arm. The ball seems to almost leap from his hand when he throws.

Tuitama participated in seven-on-seven drills and some team work with full lines. The action was not hard and heavy, but he got a taste at how fast the pocket can collapse. He also got a taste at how fast college players are compared to high school competition.

"It's definitely a big difference," Tuitama said of the speed. "It will just take me some time to get used to it. Hopefully things start clicking for me and I can help out the team."

Tuitama arrived in town on Saturday with his parents and they remained in town to help him get settled. They dropped by the field to watch the voluntary workout and seemed pleased with what they saw.

"He is so excited to be here," the elder Tuitama stated.

He admitted that the family was a bit surprised when they learned that Tuitama was sincerely interested in Arizona but they seemed very pleased with the decision.

"We were a bit shocked when he said he wanted to go to Arizona, but it was his decision," Willie's dad continued. "He said the main reason was the coaches. He really loved the coaches here."

One coach who has given Tuitama a ton of attention is offensive coordinator Mike Canales. Canales was in on the recruiting from the beginning and was a major reason that Tuitama committed.

"Today I was with coach Canales trying to learn the offense and stuff," Willie noted. "I have a lot to learn, but I am willing to learn it."

Oddly enough, had it not been for Canales, Tuitama may have been on campus sooner. His high school baseball season ended on June 5th and he was willing to come to town right after the playoffs ended, but Canales told Tuitama to go ahead and go on the senior trip to Hawaii. Tuitama complied.

"I told him he should go and have fun, because after that he was all mine," Canales said laughing.

Although Tuitama would love to take their jobs, incumbent passers Richard Kovalcheck and Adam Austin have both been working with the newcomer, doing their best to help him learn the schemes and plays.

Tuitama may have the physical gifts to play early, but he will be hard pressed to unseat Kovalcheck and Austin. Not only do both players have the experience and knowledge, but right now they just have a better feel for the game.

Kovalcheck may not have the cannon that Tuitama has, but he was the more effective passer in 7-on-7 drills. Tuitama has no problem serving as the back-up.

"Right now I am not worried about that (playing early)," Tuitama claimed. "I am just trying to learn the system."

Tuitama gets along with the other quarterbacks and he's trying to get in good with the men in charge of protecting him. Tuitama is rooming with offensive linemen Joe Longacre and Dillon Hansen over the summer and promised that he would do his best to get on the blockers' good side.

Tuitama may not be ready to play his first year, but he should be able to get a better grasp of the offense than many true freshmen. Not only is he in town in June, but the offense is essentially the same scheme he ran at St. Mary's last year, only with different terminology.

"It's made it somewhat easier but it is still kind of hard," Tuitama said.

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