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.”

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