"Let the best man win."

Bill Wacholz's path to Arizona was not an easy one. Most fans know the story by now. The prospect had a season ending injury that ended his senior season after just a few games. He got noticed at a junior college camp and now he is fighting for a starting position.

Wacholz was being seriously pursued by the John Mackovic staff but after getting injured prior to his senior year, the Wildcats and every other team dropped out of his recruitment. Although he managed to play his final two games, he could not solidify the scholarship offers that he wanted.

Wacholz had a chance to play at Palomar Junior College, but really wanted to play D-I football. He took a chance by sneaking into a junior college combine. After being one of the standouts in the camp, Wacholz received six offers and eventually chose the Wildcats over Michigan State and Washington.

He was physically imposing when he came in, weighing in at over 300 pounds, but had to get stronger. His overall weight is about the same, but his weight room performances have grown drastically.

"When I came in here I was only bench pressing 350 or so, now I am up to 425," Wacholz explained. "I have gained a lot of muscle since I got here. It is only going to keep going up."

Last year was a bit frustrating for the lineman. He felt that a lack of experienced depth kept the starters from feeling the pressure of losing their jobs. Frankly, there just weren't enough game ready players on the roster a year ago.

"I don't want to say last year's guys shouldn't have been playing, but I don't think they were pushed enough by the talent level we had last year," Wacholz said. "Things are going to be a lot different."

Although Wacholz would loved to have taken the field last year, he now knows the redshirt year was the best thing for him.

"I think you need a year of experience in the program," Wacholz admitted. "I don't see how a true freshman can come in here, especially at a line position and contribute as a true freshman, you have to go through a lot. We are in so much better shape. We are stronger. There is a big difference."

Now there is competition. There are a ton of players who have legitimate shots at a starting job. Wacholz himself is in a dogfight for playing time at either of the tackle positions. "We have two deep, maybe three deep who can seal up playing time this year," Wacholz noted "People talk about the starters that they have right now. They have not earned the jobs yet. Training camp is going to say everything. Everybody is going to get a shot at it. Positions are not set my any means at all. It will come down to what guys do in training camp. That is what it is all about."

Wacholz knows it won't be easy. He has experience players like Peter Graniello and Tanner Bell ahead of him and newcomers like Adam Hawes and Eben Britton breathing down his neck.

"I have to make sure I am at my best every practice," said Wacholz. "I have to play with the instincts and give it my all. I have a good chance. I think everybody has a good chance at a starting position."

He seems to thrive on the competition. Wacholz admits that the linemen may be battling each other every day in practice, but that they are still getting along very well off the field. Wacholz makes it apparent that he really wants to play this season, but he seems to be relishing the competition.

"Let the best man win."

E-mail Brad at bradallis@msn.com


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