Top plays with Arizona ties from the 2017 college football season
We may be just over two months away from the 2018 college football season, but it’s never too late to evaluate the 2017 season.
Hero Sports compiled a list of the top 100 plays from the previous college football season, some of which with ties to Arizona.
Both Arizona and Arizona State, as well as Arizona Cardinals rookies Josh Rosen and Christian Kirk were included in the list — some in better situations than others.
Here is a breakdown of each play with Arizona ties.
No. 65 — Christian Kirk’s touchdown vs. Alabama
Trailing Alabama 24-3 late in the third quarter, Texas A&M needed an answer to combat the Tide’s stellar defense. Inside the five-yard line, quarterback Kellen Mond took the snap for the Aggies before scrambling and dodging would-be Alabama tacklers.
Eventually, Mond found Cardinals second-round draft pick and Arizona native Christian Kirk in the end zone, who then made a terrific catch while falling out of bounds.
Kirk’s poise along the sideline to make the grab allowed the Aggies to get back into the game, but ultimately fell to the National Champions 27-19.
No. 63 — Khalil Tate’s touchdown run vs. UCLA
There is a reason Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate has been named to several watch lists and Athlon’s preseason All-American team ahead of the 2018 season.
The 6-foot-2, 215-pound dual-threat completed 61.4 percent of his passes last season for 1,289 yards and nine touchdowns. Tate added to his breakout season with an additional 12 touchdowns on the ground, rushing for 1,353 yards on 133 attempts.
One of which came against UCLA in October.
Tate called his own number on a read option from deep in Arizona territory, dodging a UCLA defender before accelerating up the middle of the field through the Bruins’ defense.
The 71-yard run was his second rushing touchdown on the night, as he propelled the Wildcats to a 47-30 victory.
No. 34 — N’Keal Harry’s juggling catch vs. NC State
Similar to Tate, Arizona State wide receiver N’Keal Harry has gained national attention ahead of the 2018 season for his contribution to the Sun Devils last season.
At 6-foot-4 and 216 pounds, Harry has the ability to physically overpower any defender that lines up opposite of him. This was made apparent on multiple occasions in 2017, but perhaps the most impressive of Harry’s 73 receptions came against NC State in the Hyundai Sun Bowl.
After gaining separation from NC State’s cornerback, Harry went airborne for a pass from quarterback Manny Wilkins, tipping it twice with his left hand before ultimately coming down with it.
The catch inspired the Arizona State offense — who was trailing the Wolfpack 21-3 in the second quarter at the time. Harry would finish the game with nine receptions for 142 yards and a touchdown in the Sun Devils’ 52-31 loss.
No. 24 — Khalil Tate’s touchdown run vs. Colorado
It was only a matter of time before another one of Tate’s rushing touchdowns would appear on the list. This one came against the Colorado Buffaloes just one week prior to Wildcats’ matchup with UCLA.
Tate pump faked outside before calling his own number up the middle from the Wildcats’ 25-yard line. After breaking out of a shoestring tackle, Tate accelerated before following his blockers to the right hash and eventually in for the score.
What may be even more astonishing than the touchdown run itself may be the fact that it was just one of his five total touchdowns on the night. On 14 attempts, Tate rushed for 327 yards and four touchdowns against the Buffaloes, adding another through the air.
Behind Tate’s performance, the Wildcats went on to defeat the Buffaloes in shootout fashion, 45-42.
No. 21 — Arizona’s Shun Brown’s punt return vs. UTEP
The Wildcats were a high-scoring machine in 2017, averaging nearly 42 points per game despite a 6-7 record. Their highest point total of the season came in September against UTEP, where they scored 63 points in a win.
Arizona wide reveiver Shun Brown contributed to the Wildcats’ point total twice on the night, one in the form of a touchdown reception from then-quarterback Brandon Dawkins, and the other on this impressive punt return.
Brown fielded the kick near his own 37-yard line, finding a hole in the middle of the defense. After dodging two would-be tacklers, Brown made his way towards the near sideline.
On his way up the field, Brown conducted a beautiful spin move along the sideline, staying in bounds while making two more defenders miss before waltzing into the end zone for the score.
No. 7 — Josh Rosen’s fake-spike touchdown vs. Texas A&M
Arizona Cardinals first-round pick Josh Rosen led UCLA to perhaps one of the greatest comebacks in college football during their season opener against Christian Kirk and Texas A&M.
Rosen and the Bruins found themselves in a deep hole entering the fourth quarter, trailing the Aggies 44-10.
But UCLA executed a miraculous comeback, which culminated with Rosen faking a spike from deep in Texas A&M territory with under a minute to play, finding wideout Jordan Lasley for the touchdown in the back corner of the end zone.
Rosen and the Bruins managed to score 35 unanswered points in the fourth quarter, as UCLA ultimately stole the game from Texas A&M 45-44.
The future franchise quarterback of the Cardinals finished the game 35-for-59 with 491 yards and four touchdowns.
No. 2 — New Mexico State WR Jaleel Scott’s one-handed grab vs. ASU
Look away Sun Devil fans, one of the best plays of the 2017 season according to Hero Sports came against Arizona State early in the season.
New Mexico State wide receiver Jaleel Scott battled in the back corner of the end zone with Sun Devils’ cornerback Kobe Williams, but ultimately won.
Scott made a terrific one-handed grab, managing to keep one foot in bounds to put the Aggies on the board.
Luckily, Arizona State already had the lead at this point in the contest, and went on to win 37-31.