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ESPN: Arizona football’s Hayward has potential to make an impact

Since the start of the 2019 football season, the Arizona Wildcats have allowed 37 points per game, 471.8 yards per game and have gone 4-13 overall.

Those numbers in comparison to the rest of the Pac-12 are the second-most points allowed over the past two years and the third-most yards allowed. The Wildcats have also gone 2-12 in conference play the past two seasons, good for worst in the Pac-12.

Poor defense has hindered the Wildcats for the past two seasons, but new head coach Jedd Fisch and defensive coordinator Don Brown made solidifying the defense a priority. Fisch added former Western Michigan linebacker and 2019 MAC Defensive Player of the Year Treshaun Hayward to the Wildcats’ linebacker room for 2021.

ESPN’s Tom VanHaaren wrote about this year’s transfers who have the potential to make the biggest impact and Hayward brings a playmaking ability to the defensive side of the ball that the Wildcats lacked in 2020.

Hayward has one season of eligibility remaining and is going to help Brown’s defense at Arizona. Hayward was the MAC Defensive Player of the Year in 2019 after recording 142 total tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss and five sacks.

The Ann Arbor native’s new coaches both have Michigan ties. Fisch served as the passing game coordinator for the Wolverines on Jim Harbaugh’s staff from 2015 to 2016, and Brown was the Wolverines defensive coordinator for five seasons from 2016 to 2020.

While Hayward only has one year of eligibility left, Fisch told reporters in February that he is certain that the linebacker can be an instant contributor in 2021.

“It’s a one-year situation, but it’s one where he can come in and it’s truly a plug and play,” Fisch said.”It’d be very hard to say that he wouldn’t be one of the people that’d be starting on opening day.”

Hayward helped lead the Broncos to a 7-6 record in 2019, and on top of being named the MAC defensive player of the year, he was named a second team All-American by Sporting News.

In four years at Western Michigan, Hayward recorded 229 tackles (16 for loss) and 5.5 sacks. During the 2020 season, Hayward recorded 59 tackles and half a sack for the 4-2 Broncos.