UA FOOTBALL

Arizona Football: Ex-La. Tech QB makes pitch

Transfer Isham lacks height, scholarship but looks 'steady' in camp
2013-08-13T00:00:00Z Arizona Football: Ex-La. Tech QB makes pitchDaniel Berk Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
August 13, 2013 12:00 am  • 

In his first season as Michigan's head coach, Rich Rodriguez trotted out walk-on quarterback Nick Sheridan, a third-year sophomore, to start the Wolverines' first game against Utah.

Sheridan got the nod over former four-star recruit and Georgia Tech transfer Steven Threet and senior Justin Feagin. The move caught everyone off guard, but Rodriguez trusted Sheridan and liked his competitiveness.

Why is this important?

Well, the Wildcats may have their own Nick Sheridan on their roster this year.

Sophomore Nick Isham, a non-scholarship transfer from Louisiana Tech, entered the quarterback competition at the start of fall camp as somewhat of an afterthought behind B.J. Denker, Jesse Scroggins and Anu Solomon.

But Denker has been inconsistent, Scroggins has missed four practices with concussion symptoms and Solomon is playing like the true freshman he is.

Isham, meanwhile, has caught the eye of Rodriguez and UA quarterbacks coach Rod Smith.

"(The game) is probably more important to him than the rest of the guys," Rodriguez said after Monday's practice at Arizona Stadium. "He's a guy that studies, (who) knows what we're doing. He's really conscientious. He's got some skills.

"I wish he was taller, but so does he. He can't control that. What he has to do is be a guy that knows exactly what we want and execute."

Smith said Isham - generously listed at 6 feet tall - has improved his stock within the quarterback competition during the first 10 days of camp and has become a real option.

"He's trying to be as consistent as he can," Smith said. "That's what we're looking for - a guy to be consistent everyday he steps out here; he's consistent, he's sharp, he's making good decisions.

"He's gotten out there, and whenever we've been up and down, he's been pretty steady."

Of all the quarterbacks on Rodriguez's roster, Isham actually has the most Division I experience. In 2011, he played in 10 games for Louisiana Tech and threw for 1,457 yards with eight touchdowns and seven interceptions.

He moved to receiver near the end of 2011 and transferred to Arizona after the season. He sat out last year under NCAA transfer rules.

"I left 'La Tech' and it was wide open for me," said Isham, who played for former Arizona offensive coordinator and current Cal coach Sonny Dykes at Louisiana Tech. "I've always had the drive and the dream to play college and play at the highest level of football."

Resodding keeps Cats at Arizona Stadium

The Wildcats practiced at Arizona Stadium again Monday morning and haven't practiced at Kindall/Sancet Stadium since Aug. 4.

The UA is resodding the field at Kindall/Sancet and it has taken longer than expected

Rodriguez said the resodding wasn't planned, but the grass at the old baseball stadium was so beat up, the UA had to do it.

"The grass just didn't take," Rodriguez said. "They worked hard on it and it was supposed to be good to go by August. I guess the tough June weather we had - it didn't take and so while we were gone they resodded it. I'm hoping we can get on it tomorrow."

Griffey makes dad proud at ceremony

When Ken Griffey Jr., was inducted into the Seattle Mariners' Hall of Fame on Saturday night at Safeco Field, son Trey, a redshirt wide receiver for the UA, surprised his dad with a prerecorded video message.

Trey spoke for a little more than a minute and told his dad that he was his hero growing up and wanted to be just like him.

The message made Ken cry on the field as he was being inducted.

The two FaceTimed later that night after the UA's practice at Fort Huachuca.

"The first question he asked me was, 'How did you do?' Just like a normal parent would," Trey said. "He was more concerned about what I did during the day."

Of course, they eventually talked about Ken's special night.

"He said he was going to get me back for making him cry," Trey said.

Neuheisel likes RichRod's 'mantra'

Former Colorado, Washington and UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel was at Arizona's practice Monday morning for the Pac-12 Networks' training camp tour series.

Neuheisel watched the entire workout and chatted with Rodriguez at the conclusion.

He shared some of his observations with the Star.

"I loved it," Neuheisel said. "This coaching staff coaches hard. They are aggressive. I love (Rodriguez's) mantra of making them comfortable being uncomfortable and pushing, pushing, pushing. Certainly a lot got accomplished today."

The former coach said-as he did in the spring-that he thinks Ka'Deem Carey is the best running back in the country.

Like most everyone, Neuheisel will watch the UA quarterback competition with intrigue.

"Denker looked fine," Neuheisel said.

"I think the job is there to be won. I think he (Rodriguez) is waiting for someone to assert themselves and take it over and know everything. One thing about quarterbacks is: It's one thing to do what you're supposed to do on one particular play; more importantly almost is to know what you're supposed to do all the time.

"When he finds that guy who knows all the right answers and then can execute his up-tempo pace, he's going to have his guy."

Training camp: Day 10

At Arizona Stadium

• Temperature at start: 82 degrees and sunny at 8:45 a.m.

• Newcomer watch: True freshman linebacker Scooby Wright is trying to get into the mix at the position and could be another candidate to play right away. He was the team' defensive player of the day on Monday and made a few impact plays during the team's 11-on-11 portion of Saturday's practice at Fort Huachuca.

• The big number:

2Quarterback Jesse Scroggins returned to practice Monday after missing two sessions with concussion symptoms.

Contact reporter Daniel Berk at dberk@azstarnet.com or 573-4330. On Twitter @DSBerk

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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