Safe at Safety: Rodriguez Confident at Key Defensive Position Despite Losing Three Seniors

Scooby Wright III bursted out on the scene for the Arizona Wildcats football program two years ago as an unheralded prospect out of California. He turned heads as a freshman becoming one of their top impact performers which carried over to last season where he was named the nation’s top linebacker by many outlets receiving many accolades.

Before last season, head coach Rich Rodriguez was posed the question of “who was going to be this year’s Scooby Wright?” Who was going to be the breakout player that no one saw coming?

Without hesitation, Coach Rod said it would be Jake Matthews, a walk-on linebacker out of Oro Valley, AZ who opted to turn down baseball and smaller school football scholarships to play for his crosstown team. Matthews went on to play very well last season tallying a total of 29 total tackles in 11 games playing a key role in Arizona’s front seven.

Rodriguez joined Sports360AZ’s ‘The Brad Cesmat Show’ and was asked, who was going to be this season’s Scooby Wright/Jake Matthews.

“Scooby has set the bar so high that it is sometimes hard to compare that, but if you are looking for a guy and I like to look at the upperclassman whose been a really good player and he’s made a lot of plays but a lot of guys aren’t talking about him…I think Will Parks, who has made a lot of plays for us already, he going to be a senior he’s a leader,” Rodriguez said. “I look for Will Parks to have a great year and be the kind of player where you’re like ‘where did he emerge from?'”

William Parks was huge out of the safety spot last season for the Wildcats with 81 total tackles, 13 of which were for loss and two interceptions. Arizona graduated some fantastic depth and leaders from the safety position from a year ago. They said goodbye to Tra’Mayne Bondurant, Jared Tevis and Jourdon Grandon who were all in the top five of the team in tackles in 2014 and were all key pieces that have helped the program grow since Coach Rod took over.

With those three gone, those returning at safety will be relied upon heavily to fill the void and Parks has the ability and leadership to be able to do so.

But he won’t be alone. A local product out of North Canyon High School in Phoenix has paid his dues and now will have the opportunity to shine. Jamar Allah is a 6-1, 190 pound senior that looks to stand side-by-side with Parks at safety and allow the Wildcats secondary to pick up where they left off.

“When I mention Will Parks, the other guy I was going to mention was Jamar Allah,” Rodroguez stated. “A guy who we’ve considered a starter because we have used him so much in Nickel situations. But he is another guy, a veteran of our program at a position of need who is poised to have a big year. He’s smart, he’s tough, he’s paid his dues and the opportunity is out there for him.”

“Jamar and Will are going to be the leaders for us in the secondary and I think Jamar has had a great offseason,” he added.

The Wildcats were ninth in pass defense and pass defense efficiency in the Pac-12 last season and will look to improve on that with emerging roles for great athletes and veteran like Allah and Parks in 2015.