Sights and Sounds from Arizona’s Spring Game

Arizona’s annual Spring Game was a hit for the second consecutive year — now if the Wildcats can only build on the excitement of peripheral elements and have it translate on to the field in about five months.

The pomp and circumstance from this year’s Spring Game at Arizona Stadium did not include Rob Gronkowski catching a football dropped from a helicopter leading up to the event but it did have Adia Barnes calling plays, Mike Candrea as a coach looking on to the field intuitively like he did from the third-base coaching box and Sam Thomas making an acrobatic, leaping touchdown reception in the back of the end zone.

Arizona greats Lance Briggs and Tedy Bruschi, who combined for 25 years playing in the NFL, were the head coaches of the Red and Blue teams. They remained almost an hour after the Spring Game at Arizona Stadium to sign autographs as part of the Friends of Wilbur and Wilma event that included 12 football players meeting fans and also signing autographs.

The Wildcats went 1-11 last season in the first season under Jedd Fisch, who has been successful generating excitement despite the program losing 23 of its last 24 games dating to the 2019 season.

His “TwentyTucson” recruiting class that he signed in December and February is rated No. 1 in the Pac-12 by recruiting services. A few of those members, including Anaheim (Calif.) Servite High School Class of 2022 graduates Tetairoa McMillan, Noah Fifita and Keyan Burnett, enrolled at Arizona this spring to work with the Wildcats in practice.

Each of them showed fans at Arizona Stadium on Saturday their talents will be something to behold in the next few years. Burnett, who appears to be bringing the tight end back to Arizona’s offense for the first time since Gronkowski in 2008, caught a touchdown pass, as did McMillan — the most decorated offensive recruit in Arizona’s history.

Fifita showed he has a rifle of an arm and a football IQ so high that he can make the right decisions with little or no time to spare. Washington State transfer Jayden de Laura threw an interception in his first series, but the Pac-12 Offensive Freshman Player of the Year showed that he can also rally the offense with extended drives. Jordan McCloud also threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown after a 90-yard return by Jaxen Turner. It was hard to tell what was more special — Turner carrying the ball all the way to the end zone or him carrying his nephew Isaac while signing autographs during the Friends of Wilbur and Wilma event.