QB Noah Fifita, WR Tetairoa McMillan to stay at Arizona despite Jedd Fisch exit

Jan 20, 2024, 2:48 PM

Wide receiver Tetairoa McMillan...

Wide receiver Tetairoa McMillan #4 of the Arizona Wildcats celebrates with Noah Fifita #11 after catching a 50-yard touchdown reception against the Arizona State Sun Devils during the second half of the NCAAF game at Mountain America Stadium on November 25, 2023 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Arizona quarterback Noah Fifita and leading receiver Tetairoa McMillan announced on Saturday they are returning despite ex-head coach Jedd Fisch taking the Washington job last weekend.

Even though the transfer portal closed earlier this month, the NCAA allows players an extra 30-day window to enter the portal after a coaching change. Brent Brennan, formerly of San Jose State, was hired as Arizona’s next head football coach on Tuesday.

Fifita received the chance to start midway through the season after Jayden de Laura suffered an ankle injury in the Wildcats’ Sept. 23 win at Stanford. The Pac-12 Freshman Offensive Player of the Year started nine games and set a program record with a 72.4% completion percentage. Fifita threw for 2,869 yards and 25 touchdowns with six interceptions after taking over for de Laura.

The Servite High School (Calif.) alum won the FWAA Offensive Freshman of the Year and was a Shaun Alexander Freshman of the Year Finalist, helping Arizona win its final seven games, including a victory over Oklahoma in the Alamo Bowl. Fifita also set a school record with 527 passing yards in a 59-23 victory over Arizona State in the Territorial Cup.

McMillan, Fifita’s high school teammate, played under Fisch for two seasons in Tucson and was the highest-ranked recruit in Arizona program history. The pass catcher out of Servite High School was a four-star recruit per 247Sports and a five-star recruit per Rivals in the 2022 class. He was the No. 4 wide receiver recruit in the country, according to 247Sports.

As a true freshman in 2022, he appeared in all 12 games, including eight starts, and totaled 39 receptions for 702 yards and eight touchdowns.

In 2023, the AP Third-Team All-American caught 90 passes for 1,402 receiving yards, which was the second-most receiving yards in a season by an Arizona receiver and the fifth-most in the nation. His 10 touchdown catches tied him for the second-most in a single season in program history.

After Fisch’s departure, McMillan and quarterback Noah Fifita recorded an episode of their podcast, Island Time in the Desert, on which the QB said, “This team, the culture’s shinning through right now, for sure. Everybody’s staying together right now.”

Earlier on Saturday, cornerback Treydan Stukes and safeties Dalton Johnson and Gunner Maldonado announced they are returning to the Wildcats for 2024. Johnson will be a redshirt junior while this will be the final season of eligibility for Maldonado and Stukes.

Johnson, the 2023 Alamo Bowl Defensive MVP, had 86 tackles, two sacks, four forced fumbles and one interception in 13 games (all starts) last season. Maldonado totaled 81 tackles, two forced fumbles and two interceptions last season, while Stukes contributed 55 tackles and one interception.

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QB Noah Fifita, WR Tetairoa McMillan to stay at Arizona despite Jedd Fisch exit