Arizona down two linebackers

Some tough news coming out of Arizona late last week when coach Rich Rodriguez confirmed a report that projected starting linebacker Brian Wagner was leaving the program.

Anthony Gimino of TucsonCitizen.com first reported the story.

“I don’t have love for the game anymore. I told coach that, and that was it. It was something I was thinking about for a long time. That’s kind of where I’m at right now ... I think I'm done with football."

Rodriguez later confirmed Wagner's departure with a text.

"He just decided not to play football anymore.”

Wagner, a transfer from Akron who worked mostly with the first team during spring drills, was one of the nation's best tacklers last season, notching 147 stops.

As the Wildcats move to a 3-3-5 defense, they were already light at the linebacker spot. The news was compounded with the confirmation that backup linebacker David Lopez has also left the program.

Rob Hankins, a 6-foot-1, 218-pound sophomore, likely moves into a starting role -- at least for now -- alongside Jake Fischer and Hank Hobson.

Fischer, who missed all of last season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, represents the bulk of Arizona's linebacking experience. In a Q&A a couple of weeks ago, Fischer half-heartedly joked that Arizona was thin at linebacker. It just got a lot thinner. (Billy Halleck one-liners welcomed).