A little more than 24 hours after he committed to Rich Rodriguez and the Arizona Wildcats, former Texas wide receiver Cayleb Jones was at practice tonight at Kindall/Sancet Stadium.
Wearing a No. 8 jersey, Jones isn’t allowed to put on full pads until he’s been with the team for four practices. Instead, the receiver was in shorts, a jersey and a helmet and participated on a limited basis
Of course, he’ll have to sit out the upcoming season, but should be a solid addition to the wide receiver group for the 2014 season.
“Cayleb is enrolled, accepted to school, had his physical and all his testing done and had his first practice,” Rodriguez said. “We saw him, we knew about him, we talked to his coaches and family and some of the guys that played with him and feel good about it.”
“I wish he could play this year, but we’ll wait a year to get him going.
Next year’s receivers could include Jones, Notre Dame transfer Davonte’ Neal, Austin Hill (if he returns for his senior season), Garic Wharton, Johnny Jackson, Nate Phillips, incoming recruit Cameron Denson and others.
It will certainly be a deep group.
Some other news, notes and quotes from tonight’s practice.
• Rodriguez and the UA still hasn’t heard back from the NCAA on the eligibility of Neal. The former Scottsdale Chaparral star is hoping to play right away. Rodriguez said he isn’t sure when the Wildcats will get word and that Neal is handling it well.
• The coach said he isn’t worried about Jones’ off-field issue at Texas. The receiver was charged with felony aggravated assault for allegedly breaking the jaw of a Texas tennis player. The charges were later dismissed and reduced to a misdemeanor.
“He had an off-field issue and it’s been resolved,” Rodriguez said.
• Rodriguez said nothing has changed with the quarterback competition and it’s the same as it’s been the first 11 practices of camp. When a student reporter asked him if that meant there had been no more progress, the coach replied with a smile, “No more progress is a good way to put it. Perfect. I couldn’t have said it better myself. “
• The coach hinted that Luca Bruno, a true freshman defensive lineman from Oak Park, Calif., has a chance to play this season. He cautioned that it’s still early and joked he’ll probably wait until the day before the opener to release a depth chart.
Some quotes from after tonight’s practice:
• Rodriguez on transfers from other FBS schools: “We’re just looking for players, whether they’re a transfer kid or a high school kid. We want ‘OKGs.’ A kid that’s competitive, wants to get a degree, can fit into the program and obviously can play. We think we got all that in Cayleb. “
• Rodriguez on asking former Texas QB and current UA signal-caller Connor Brewer about Jones: “He thought he was a great guy and we asked him, we asked Connor about him. We said ‘give us your opinion on what kind of a person he is.’ He said he loved him and thought he was a great guy. As a young guy, everyone makes mistakes maybe, but he’d love to have him here.”
• Rodriguez on what he looks for when he takes a transfer: “Most of the kids we sign are high school guys. We don’t take a lot of junior college guys and typically haven’t taken a lot of transfers. But, we’re looking for players. If it’s a younger transfer like Davonte’ or Connor or Cayleb, those guys still have a chance to grow in your program. You want to have guys that you have a chance to develop in your program. If you’re going to get one, a lot of times, the best ones to get are the younger ones, the guys that have three or four years of eligibility left.”
• Rodriguez on throwing more last season than he did at Michigan or West Virginia: “The truth is, if you go back to the Glenville State or Tulane days, we probably threw it about the same number of times. We threw it so many times last year because of one reason: Matt Scott. Well, I guess the other reason was the receivers—Austin and Dan Buckner and those guys. Every coach wants balance and we like to have balance, but we’re just doing whatever it takes to score points. I don’t look at it like we have to throw it a number of times or run it a number of times, whatever we have to do to score points, that’s what we’re going to do.”
• Rodriguez on what’s taking so long with the NCAA and Neal’s status: “I think they’re waiting on more information and our compliance people are doing everything they can. We’re still in the middle of it and we’d like to know and I’m sure he would to. But we’ll wait and see.”
• Rodriguez on Carter Wood, a non-scholarship center, who transferred from Colorado Mesa: “Carter is a tough little competitor. He was hurt in the spring a little bit and has overcome some injuries. He’s a tough guy and knows our system and he’s competing for some time for sure.”
• Offensive guard Chris Putton on the offense and where it is compared to last season: “I think, just like ‘Coach Rod’ would probably say, we’re not where we want to be. But, there’s always room for improvement and I think we’re only going to go up from here. Matt had so much experience before the season even started. I think B.J. and the other quarterbacks have limited experience in games and I think it shows—a little bit—that they aren’t as game ready. But, they’re all working hard and I think they will be ready come gameday.”