ARIZONA FOOTBALL

Jedd Fisch: Arizona football roster set up for Big 12 success with few transfers

Jan 4, 2024, 3:47 PM

Arizona Wildcats head football coach Jedd Fisch...

Head coach Jedd Fisch of the Arizona Wildcats is dunked with powerade from Jacob Manu #5 during the final moments of the NCAAF game against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Mountain America Stadium on November 25, 2023 in Tempe, Arizona. The Wildcats defeated the Sun Devils 59-23. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Ten wins and a bowl game victory against outgoing Big 12 team Oklahoma give the Arizona Wildcats recruiting momentum and hype heading to their move out of the Pac-12.

But the value in the breakout 2023 season, Fisch’s third leading the Wildcats, had a more tangible impact.

The roster for the most part will return, a rarity at this exact moment in college football, where the transfer portal has gutted even winning programs.

“I think there’s just a great buzz around Arizona football right now,” Fisch told Arizona Sports Burns & Gambo on Thursday. “When you finish a year with those types of rankings, good things are surrounding your program.

“People want to be part of it, people want to come to it, people want to give money to it. All of those good things that go into winning programs. And the most important thing is nobody wants to leave it. That’s where I feel like I’m so proud of our team. We’ve really had nobody in the two-deep, starters or backups, who went into the portal.”

Who did the Arizona Wildcats lose from the football roster after 2023?

Arizona, which will be led by sophomore quarterback Noah Fifita next year, loses former starter Jayden de Laura as he attempts to find a new home.

Left tackle Jordan Morgan could have enough draft juice to be a first-round pick, and receiver Jacob Cowing is also an NFL prospect after finishing his college career seventh on the NCAA all-time receiving yards list (4,477 yards) spanning his time at UTEP and Arizona.

Tight end Tanner McLachlan, running back Michael Wiley, defensive back Martell Irby and defensive lineman Tyler Manoa are departing seniors.

Otherwise, the Wildcats return talent across both offense and defense. Fisch’s count is 17 starters will be back.

A top-10 ranking will increase the expectations for 2024, Arizona’s Big 12 initiation.

“People are now calling us, you know, we’re the hunted, not the hunter. Not in our mind we’re not,” Fisch said. “In our mind, we got to just find a way to win a game. That’s our mentality always here, where we’re going to be a scrappy team, we’re going to be the team that never wants to be the favorite ever. People don’t like to talk about us, that’s OK.

“The fact of the matter is our guys have got to be ready because we’re playing a bunch of teams we’ve never played before in a bunch of stadiums we’ve never played at before … this is going to be different and it is going to be unique. It’s going to feel like playing Oklahoma 12 straight weeks, meaning we don’t know much about this team. Luckily we’re going from a younger team to a more mature team.”

Arizona Football

An empty podium is seen at the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by...

David Veenstra

What to watch for: 2024 NFL Scouting Combine schedule, preview and more

The NFL Scouting Combine begins this week in Indianapolis. Here's a complete guide for college and professional fans across Arizona.

4 days ago

Quarterback Jayden de Laura #7 prepares for a game at Arizona Stadium on October 28, 2023 in Tucson...

Tom Kuebel

Former Arizona quarterback Jayden de Laura declares for NFL Draft

Jayden de Laura declared for the NFL Draft and will forego his fifth season of college football eligibility.

8 days ago

Arizona Wildcats director of athletic Desiree Reed-Francois is introduced...

Arizona Sports

Arizona AD Reed-Francois: Financial shortfall not ‘incredibly unique’

University of Arizona director of athletics Desiree Reed-Francois departed Missouri because it was an "opportunity to come home."

11 days ago

A general overview of Arizona Stadium before the college football game between the Arizona Wildcats...

David Veenstra

University of Arizona hires Desireé Reed-Francois as new athletic director

The University of Arizona hired Desireé Reed-Francois as its new athletic director on Monday. She is expected to sign a five-year deal.

12 days ago

Jordan Morgan...

Arizona Sports

NFL Draft Combine invite list includes 4 Arizona players, 1 from ASU

The 2024 NFL Draft Combine list of 321 prospects includes four Arizona Wildcats and one Arizona State Sun Devil.

18 days ago

Jedd Fisch, Arizona...

Kellan Olson

Ex-Wildcats head coach Jedd Fisch speaks on sudden Arizona departure

Former Arizona head coach Jedd Fisch gave his reasoning on the sudden and abrupt move to Washington on The Athletic's Until Saturday podcast.

18 days ago

Jedd Fisch: Arizona football roster set up for Big 12 success with few transfers