Tra’Mayne Bondurant made a “business decision” this week — and it was a really important one.
Arizona’s junior safety cut his dyed-blond Mohawk and went back to his natural look.
It was time for a change for the junior from Vallejo, Calif.
Bondurant opened the season about as well as any player can. In the opener against NAU, Bondurant intercepted two passes, returning one for a touchdown, and registered seven tackles.
One week later against UNLV, the safety was at it again. He returned an interception 52 yards for another touchdown and had four tackles, including a sack.
It all kept rolling in Week 3 against UTSA. Against the Roadrunners, Bondurant tied for the team-high with eight tackles, including one for a loss, and had three pass breakups.
Through three games, Bondurant had the look of a sure-fire all-conference safety and maybe even someone with an outside chance at garnering an All-America honor or two.
Bondurant’s production has since slowed considerably. The safety had 10 total tackles against USC and Washington, no turnovers, no sacks and no tackles for a loss.
“I don’t think he’s had his best games the last two games,” UA coach Rich Rodriguez said. “We need him. He’s one of the guys on defense that can make big plays, and we need that. We’ve lacked that the last couple of games.”
An issue for Bondurant against Washington and USC has been that they’ve stayed away from the playmaker. After his hot start, teams have been shying away from him and going at other parts of the secondary.
“It kinda bothers me, but it was a little bit expected,” Bondurant said. “It didn’t mess up my game, it was just something new that I wasn’t used to. I just have to make sure I run to the ball and stay excited throughout the game. I’m going to make sure when they come my way, I accomplish everything I need to.”
Even though it has cut into his production, it’s actually quite flattering teams want to stay away from him.
“I take it as a compliment,” Bondurant said. “At the same time, as a player and a competitor, you never like it, but you understand the reason. I take it in and know that I do have respect from other teams, so it makes me feel good in that aspect. But I love when the ball comes my way, so it irritates me.”
Parks to make first start
The UA will be without its leading tackler on Saturday.
Rodriguez announced in his weekly injury report that junior Jared Tevis will miss the Utah game with a knee injury.
Tevis, who has a team-high 36 stops, injured the knee against USC. Rodriguez said Wednesday he thought Tevis was questionable, but he was downgraded to out Thursday.
“He’s a tough guy, and he’ll play through anything, but this one might be another week,” Rodriguez said Wednesday.
With Tevis out, sophomore Will Parks, a native of Philadelphia, will get his first career start.
Parks has played in all five games this season and has eight tackles. He has played mostly on special teams and on the team’s third-down package. Saturday, he’ll be on the field a lot more.
Parks said he’s ready for it.
“I just have to try to follow in (Tevis’) footsteps,” Parks said. “I have to be mentally and physically prepared. He’s been working a lot with me in the film room. Last year I messed up not being in the film room a lot, but this year, I’m getting myself mentally focused more.”
Parks was one of the first recruits to commit to Rodriguez, and the coach is eager to see how he fares in a full game.
“He’s one of the most athletic guys on defense,” Rodriguez said. “If he wasn’t playing defensive back, he could probably play good time for us as a receiver.
“He’s still learning; he’s a young guy.”
The UA rolled out its first social media fan promotion of the week Thursday when it let a random fan announce the team’s uniform combination for Saturday’s game.
At 12:05 p.m., @menehunemedia tweeted “Sooo stoked the
@ArizonaFBall Cats will be in
ALL BLUE Saturday night for #AZvsUTAH.”
It will be the first time this season that the Wildcats will sport blue helmets, blue jerseys and blue pants. Arizona wore blue tops and blue pants with copper helmets against NAU.
Against UTSA, the UA wore red tops, blue pants and white helmets.
Athletic director Greg Byrne and several other members of the UA’s athletic department “retweeted” the original tweet to spread the news of the uniform news.