Countdown To Camp: QB's

The Wildcats are just a few weeks out from the start training camp and some positions have already been decided. One such position is quarterback. For the fifth time in five years the Wildcats will begin the season with a different player starting than started the year before.

The Wildcats have not had a back-to-back opening game starter since Jason Johnson took the snaps in 2001 and 2002. Since then Nic Costa, Kris Heavner and Richard Kovalcheck have all opened the season under center. Barring an injury, Willie Tuitama will lead the Cats against BYU on September 2nd.

1. Willie Tuitama, 6-3, 218, So. Stockton, Calif. (St. Mary's)
Things were just better with Tuitama last year. The Cats averaged more yards and points and also amassed two of their three wins. Maybe most amazing is the fact that despite having a true freshman running the show, the team turned the ball over less.

All told Tuitama threw for 1,105 yards and nine scores. He completed 57.7% of his passes and tossed just five picks. He led the Cats to a win in his first start against Oregon State and followed that up with the 52-14 pasting of UCLA. An injury late against ASU put a damper on an otherwise stellar season but that has only made Tuitama more hungry.

2. Adam Austin, 6-3 217 Sr. Mundelein, Ill (Mundelein HS)
Austin is the perfect back-up. Smart, skilled and not one to rock the boat. Saying Austin is content to be the back-up is not accurate, he'd love the starting job and will battle tooth and nail for it, but he knows that Tuitama is the guy and won't be a cancer behind the scenes if he remains No. 2.

Austin is a better athlete than he is given credit for. Despite coming to Arizona as a walk-on he is arguably the best quarterback that John Mackovic recruited to Arizona. The Wildcat coaches have great faith in Austin in case they need him this season.

3. Kris Heavner, 6-3 230 Sr. Johnson City, Texas (Lyndon B. Johnson)
Heavner returns to the team after leaving the program a year ago. He briefly transferred to Baylor then came back to Tucson to try his hand at baseball. Heavner spent a year away from athletics but approached the staff about returning to football and they agreed to let him walk back onto the team.

Heavner is a remarkably strong quarterback but never totally grasped the offense. As a starter in 2004 Heavner was either too conservative or was far too careless with the ball. That being said, Heavner gives the Cats an experienced and skilled quarterback as a back-up.

4. Tyler Lyon, 6-5 215 Fr. Newhall, Calif. (Hart High School)
The plan is for Lyon to redshirt. Although the true freshman has all the raw skills to be a big time player but with Tuitama and Austin in place the Cats don't really need to rush Lyon.

Lyon is tall, athletic and has a strong arm. More importantly is that he has a great grasp of the game. His father is a junior college coach and he played at Hart High School, a program that has a reputation for developing college quarterbacks.

5. Matt Stone, 6-1, 193, So. Tucson, Ariz. (Catalina Foothills)
Stone is a walk-on from Tucson. No offense to Stone, but if he has to play this season something went terribly wrong.


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