Arizona's coaches have spent the last 4 1/2 months in scramble mode.
However, their timing couldn't have been better with junior college quarterback B.J. Denker. Arizona offered a scholarship to the Cerritos (Calif.) College star last week, then convinced him to take an official visit to Tucson.
As it turns out, they were just in time.
"In a 48-hour span, I got calls from two other universities," the 6-foot-3-inch, 190-pounder said.
Denker chose the Arizona Wildcats over offers from New Mexico and Maryland on Thursday, becoming the seventh - and newest - quarterback on the team's projected 2012 roster. He will compete for the backup quarterback's job once he arrives this summer. A solid performance could put him under center to start the 2013 season.
"It's an opportunity to compete," Denker said. "Nothing's set in stone; they haven't even named a starter (for 2012) yet."
Coaches like what they've seen from Denker, a left-handed dual-threat quarterback. He completed 160 of 286 passes for 2,319 yards and 31 touchdowns during last fall; he also ran 92 times for 586 yards and seven scores.
Arizona's offense should offer Denker, 21, more of a chance to show off his legs. Cerritos ran a pro-set, under-center system. The Wildcats' spread-option attack requires quarterbacks to both throw and run.
Denker's arrival comes with a downside, however: He'll have only two years to play two seasons of Division I-A football. Denker took a rare redshirt year in 2010 while he matured physically. Once a 6-foot-1-inch, 165-pounder, he grew 2 inches and gained 30 pounds between his freshman and redshirt sophomore seasons.
"I knew it would happen," he said. "Both my parents were late-bloomers."
Defense looking better
Arizona's defense "had a better day" in Friday night's scrimmage at a converted Kindall/Sancet Stadium, coach Rich Rodriguez said, marking the second consecutive week of improvements for a beleaguered unit.
The Wildcats' blue shirts have been playing faster and using more of their playbook later in spring. Coordinator Jeff Casteel's 3-3-5 "odd stack" scheme is almost fully installed, Rodriguez said, allowing the defense to do more.
More important, Rodriguez said he's been impressed with the unit's effort.
"The first way (they're improving) is just playing hard all the way through the whistle, like we want them to. That was the most frustrating part," Rodriguez said. "We were really basic and simple the first couple days. The last couple practices have had more blitz packages in there, and the kids like that."
• The Wildcats will practice again Wednesday, setting up Saturday's spring game at Kino Stadium. Rodriguez said the team will "more than likely" work out again April 16, capping spring drills. Arizona has practiced 12 times since March 7.
• Running back Daniel Jenkins likely won't practice this week because of a hamstring injury, Rodriguez said. Jenkins tweaked his leg in the Wildcats' March 31 scrimmage on campus and has been limited since.
Calling all quarterbacks
The Arizona Wildcats are expected to dress seven quarterbacks next fall. Here's a look:
Name Height Weight Year
Matt Scott 6-3 197 Sr.
• 2011 stats: Redshirted as a senior, Scott threw for 1,301 yards and six touchdowns and rushed for 632 yards and one touchdown in his first three seasons.
B.J. Denker 6-3 190 Jr.
• 2011 stats:Threw for 2,319 yards and 31 touchdowns and ran 92 times for 586 yards and seven touchdowns at Cerritos (Calif.) College.
Richard Morrison 5-11 183 Sr.
• 2011 stats: Playing wide receiver, Morrison caught 41 passes for 389 yards and two touchdowns.
Alex Cappellini 6-3 189 So.
• 2011 stats: Played in four games at Orange Coast (Calif.) Community College, throwing for 237 yards and two touchdowns and rushing for 73 yards.
Tyler D'Amore 6-3 189 So.
• 2011 stats: Ironwood Ridge product played in seven games at College of the Canyons last fall, throwing for 311 yards and two touchdowns and rushing for 68 yards.
Javelle Allen 6-0 205 Fr.
• 2011 stats: Threw for 2,347 yards and 30 touchdowns and rushed for 1,539 yards and 22 touchdowns as a senior at Prosper (Texas) High School.
Josh Kern 6-5 200 Fr.
• 2011 stats: Kern was solid as a senior, but it's his junior stats that got him noticed. Kern threw for 1,020 yards and seven touchdowns and rushed for 369 yards and seven scores as at San Antonio's Tom C. Clark High School.
• Where: Kino Stadium
• When: 1 p.m. Saturday
• Cost: Free