It's a slow time of year in college football. Spring practices are over and the NFL draft has come and gone, leaving four long months before college football returns to our television screens. We'll take a look at some questions facing each Pac-12 team over the next couple weeks. First up: Arizona.
What does Donavan Tate's arrival mean for the quarterback competition?
It got a whole lot more interesting, for starters. If nothing else, Tate, the No. 3 overall pick of the 2009 Major League Baseball draft, has one of the more unique backstories of anyone on a Pac-12 roster. Beyond that, however, it's hard to form any firm conclusions about how he will factor in at this stage for Arizona. By all accounts, he was one of the best athletes in the country as a high school quarterback in Georgia, but it has been several years since he has played football. In the short-term, it seems highly unlikely he'll be an upgrade over Brandon Dawkins or Khalil Tate, both of whom have significant advantages in their current understanding of the system and from actually playing football during the last six years. The more realistic path for Tate is probably one similar to that taken by current NFL quarterback Brandon Weeden. After five seasons in the minors, Weeden made the same decision as Tate and ended his pursuit of a Major League career in favor of one in football at Oklahoma State. Weeden redshirted his first year and played sparingly in the next two before starting his final two seasons in Stillwater, the final of which he finished at 28 years old. Tate is even older -- he's 26 -- which means there's a real possibility he could be playing for Arizona into his 30s.
What are realistic expectations headed into next season?
Prepare for another long season in Tucson. With most teams, it's easy to find something coming out of spring to indicate the possibility for a successful season is out there. For Arizona … nada. This is a team that for long stretches during the 2016 season appeared to have talent more fit for a Group of 5 conference -- confirmed when no players were drafted -- and that hasn't changed. Coaches have left, recruiting has been poor and Colorado, UCLA, Utah and USC are much better on paper. Arizona State lost to Arizona in the Territorial Cup and has its own set of concerns, but the even Sun Devils are better positioned for a bounce-back year than their in-state rival. One of the only bits of good news for Arizona is that it doesn't have to play Washington or Stanford next year.
Can RB Nick Wilson end his career on a high note?
In Wilson's 2014 debut, he ran for 104 yards on seven carries -- including an 85-yard touchdown run -- in a game the Wildcats set the school record with 787 total yards. The bar was set high. He went on to run for over 100 yards in seven games that season as Arizona won the Pac-12 South and advanced to the Fiesta Bowl. Since then, injuries have prevented the talented running back from coming anywhere close to the level he started at. Still, he'll enter the 2017 season -- reportedly healthy -- with more career rushing yards (2,420) than all but two running backs in the Pac-12 (Oregon's Royce Freeman and Washington's Myles Gaskin). A healthy Wilson would obviously mean a lot for what might end up the most run-heavy team in the conference and it's even more important for him as it relates to a shot at the NFL.