Ex-Wildcats prep for football All-Star game
Kyle Quinn, Taimi Tutogi and Domnique Austin to participate in second annual Casino del Sol game
As center Kyle Quinn preps for his first post-Arizona football game, he’s noticed one difference.
“Now we get to huddle, now we get to snap under center,” Quinn said with a laugh at Monday’s practice for the Casino del Sol All-Star game.
Quinn, along with former Wildcats fullback/defensive end Taimi Tutogi and defensive end Dominique Austin, will play in the second annual game on Friday at 7:00 p.m. at Kino Stadium.
After playing for head coach Rich Rodriguez in 2012 in a no-huddle, zone read spread option offense mostly out of a shotgun, it’s a nice change of pace, no pun intended. Quinn hikes the ball to his West team quarterbacks, Kansas’ Dayne Crist and Washington State’s Jeff Tuel.
“I was telling Dayne and Jeff before practice, ‘Guys, I’ve only snapped under center twice, against Oklahoma State and Nevada,’” Quinn said. “So they got a kick out of that.”
Now, after five years at Arizona and two as its starting center, Quinn will try to impress scouts enough to hear his name called on April 25-27 in the NFL Draft.
And he’ll be getting tutelage from two prominent former Wildcat coaches.
Dick Tomey, the former UA head coach who went 95-64-4 in 13 years, and Ron McBride, a former offensive line coach at the UA and longtime Utah coach, will be leading the West squad that Quinn, Tutogi and Austin will all play on.
“They’re all big time coaches out here,” Tutogi said. “It’s an honor and a blessing that we were chosen to play in this game.”
Quinn is particularly excited to play for McBride, who most recently was the head coach at Weber State for six years and coached at the UA from 1987-89.
“Coach McBride is one of the best offensive line coaches in the country,” Quinn said. “He’s a legend around the state of Utah and around the country. Everyone is just saying it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
As the center and fullback, Quinn and Tutogi were contributing blockers to the stellar season running back Ka’Deem Carey had as a UA sophomore. Carey led the nation in rushing, finishing with UA records of 1,929 yards and 23 touchdowns.
But Quinn and Tutogi still know they have a lot to prove.
“The biggest thing I want to show scouts here is my coachability and how well I take things in,” Quinn said. “I just want to show him my toughness, my versatility, and I also want to show my football IQ. You know, before the snap, if you have to make a quick adjustment with what the defense runs … I need to show I can pick up things really quick.”
Tutogi didn’t become quite as big a part of the offense over the course of his career as he would have liked. In 2012 he had one carry for a loss of a yard, and in his career 38 carries for 121 yards and five touchdowns, plus 27 receptions for 225 yards and two touchdowns.
“I just tried to play within the system,” Tutogi said. “Whatever coach [Rodriguez], [former coach Mike] Stoops wanted me to do. I felt like I could’ve done a lot more but we had guys like Ka’Deem and Matt Scott so I did what they told me and hopefully what they had me do, I produced enough to make guys think I can make it at the next level.”
CBS Sports has Tutogi rated as the ninth-best fullback in the Draft and projects him in the 7th round-undrafted range.
Austin is probably the least likely of the three to be drafted come April, as an injury-plagued senior season saw the 6-foot-5, 285-pound defensive end play in just six of 13 games, recording 14 tackles and one for loss.
“Me, Taimi and Dom are out here so we’re representing Arizona well,” Quinn said.
“I get to put this [UA] helmet on one more time and represent the university. One last chance to represent the University of Arizona.”