Freshmen report for football

The digital display on my dashboard said that it was 9:59, but at the Arizona Football offices a crowd was gathering. New players were due to report between 10:00 and 1:00, but already a large contingent of excited players, families and coaches were amassing under a "Welcome class of 2006" banner.

Trucks and cars full of luggage and belongings lined up in front of McKale. It was like no other group of incoming college freshmen, except that this group of 25 or so happen to be elite athletes. This group of football players have to start two-a-days in less than 24 hours. The future of Arizona football were settling into the campus that will be their home for the next four or five years.

Inside it was an organized mad scramble. The football support staff calmly handed out forms, keys and information, while pumped up coaches scurried around looking for players and making sure things were getting done.

The players did their best to fill out the information needed by the school, while also searching out their teammates and friends. In between they dealt with parents and siblings, all while trying to say hello to every coach in sight. It is clearly a day of excitement, enthusiasm and just a touch of nervousness. For most of these players it will be their first time on their own. For many of the parents it will be the first time they let their sons go.

"It's not so much the look in the eyes of the kids, it's the look in the eyes of the parents," coach John Mackovic said.

Parents sought out the coaches that recruited their sons. Hugs and handshakes were exchanged. Coach Mackovic would escort parents back in his office for a chat or introduce himself to the younger siblings who were sharing in the excitement.

Running back Clarence Farmer was present at the offices to reconnect with players he helped recruit. The Houston native was especially friendly with a number of the Texas players who make up a large portion of this class.

"We kid the California guys," said tight end Matt Padron, a San Antonio native. "We tell them that Arizona is just part of Texas now."

Padron is one of a handful of players who have already spent time in Tucson over the summer. The players had a chance to enroll in summer school and get acquainted with the University, the facilities, the players and most importantly, the heat.

"Both places are hot," Padron said of Texas and Arizona. "But it's a lot dryer here."

"I have to get used to the triple digits," said wide receiver Mike Jefferson.

The young Wildcats will mix two-a-day practices with a series of orientations over the next few days, before a day long orientation on Thursday. The veterans report on Friday and camp opens in full on Saturday with the "Mackovic Mile" and a full practice.

For the rest of the day the players had the task of moving into their dorm room, getting their equipment and taking a physical. Somewhere in there they would squeeze in a team dinner. Clearly a busy day was in store.

"There is a sense of wonderment, of uncertainty," Mackovic said. "They read and re-read their itinerary. There is only like three things on it, but they want to make sure they are on time."

*All of the Wildcat recruits were expected to be here on time with the exception of DE recruit Marlon Brisco. Brisco is still in the process of having his transcripts evaluated. If he is approved for admission it will be some time next week.
*It appears as if four non-scholarship players will join the recruiting class. These include Wyoming transfer Matt Belshe, his brother Jacob and All-State player Adam Moro of Blue Ridge.
*Mackovic was most pleased that he had a newcomer at every position, which allows the staff to do a lot more things than a year ago. One problem is the fact that quarterback Ryan O'Hara has a summer session class at 9:00 in the morning and will leave practices a bit early. Mackovic said the bulk of the passing work will be concluded early.

The 2002 Arizona Rookie Class:

Akin Akinniyi	LB	5-11	220	Fr.	Carrollton, Texas (Creekview HS)
Danny Baugher	P	5-10	185	Fr.	Phoenix, Ariz. (Mountain Pointe HS)
Tanner Bell	OT	6-8	324	Fr.	Castroville, Calif. (N. Monterey County HS)
Jake Belshe	DL	6-2	256	Fr.	Eagar, Ariz. (St. Johns HS)
Matt Belshe*	QB	6-1	225	Fr-RS	Eagar, Ariz. (Show Low HS/Wyoming)
Beau Carr		RB	5-10	206	Fr.	Spring, Texas (Westfield HS)
Seth Crozier	RB	6-0	198	Fr.	Pinetop, Ariz. (Blue Ridge HS)
Biren Ealy	WR	6-2	175	Fr.	Houston, Texas (Cypress Falls HS)
Nicholas Folk	PK	6-1	180	Fr.	Sherman Oaks, Calif. (Notre Dame HS)
Gilbert Harris	FB	6-1	211	Fr.	San Antonio, Texas (Churchill HS)
Keith Jackson	OT	6-5	312	Fr.	Inglewood, Calif. (Inglewood HS)
Mike Jefferson	WR	6-2	195	Fr.	El Paso, Texas (Parkland HS)
Spencer Larsen	LB	6-1	221	Fr.	Gilbert, Ariz. (Highland High School)
Kili Lefotu	OL	6-5	298	Fr.	Riverside, Calif. (Arlington HS)
Eric Levitre	OL	6-1	276	Fr.	Santa Cruz, Calif. (San Lorenzo Valley HS)
John McKinney	LB	6-0	220	Fr.	Copperas Cove, Texas (CCHS)
Jason Martin	CB	5-10	175	Fr.	Pasadena, Calif. (Muir HS)
Lamon Means	S	6-3	190	Fr.	Galena Park, Texas (Galena Park HS)
Adam Moro	 	SS	5-10	185	Fr.	Pinetop, Ariz. (Blue Ridge HS)
Willis Morrison	WR	5-11	170	Fr.	Flagstaff, Ariz. (Sinagua HS)
Ryan O=Hara	QB	6-6	195	Fr.	Pasadena, Calif. (Muir HS)
Matt Padron	TE	6-5	259	Fr.	San Antonio, Texas (Clark HS)
John Parada	OT	6-8	326	Fr.	Alta Loma, Calif. (Alta Loma HS)
Paul Philipp	DE	6-2	265	Fr.	San Bernardino, Calif. (SBHS)
Gary Shepard	CB	5-10	180	Fr.	Spring, Texas (Westfield HS)
Marcus Smith	DE	6-5	220	Fr.	San Diego, Calif. (Mission Bay HS)
Carl Tuitavuki	DT	6-3	350	Jr.	Oakland, Calif. (San Leandro/Ricks CC
Tim Volk		DE	6-2	260	Fr.	Thousand Oaks, Calif. (Notre Dame HS)
Mitchell Willis	TE	5-11	170	Fr.	Queen Creek, Ariz. (Queen Creek HS)

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