Arizona football sees no draft picks, Wildcats sign up for their futures
Scott, Buckner, Quinn and Tutogi find new homes
The NFL Draft came and went, 254 names were called, and none of them came from the University of Arizona.
For the first time since 2005, the Wildcats didn’t have a single player drafted into the NFL. The biggest surprise was quarterback Matt Scott, who was projected in the 3-5 round range.
Still, not getting drafted into the NFL doesn’t end all professional hope.
Scott, receiver Dan Buckner and center Kyle Quinn all signed with teams as undrafted free agents, while fullback Taimi Tutogi was invited to minicamp.
Here’s a look at the Wildcats’ undrafted free agents and what the future has in store for them.
NFL decision: Signed with Jaguars
In the days and weeks leading up to the Draft, many national outlets (including ESPN and CBS Sports) listed Scott as a rising prospect. CBS’ Rob Rang even called him a diamond in the rough, a distinction he handed to Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson last year.
It was surprising, but allowed Scott to pick his NFL destination, and it surprised no one when he picked the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Jaguars quarterbacks coach, Frank Scelfo, held the same position at the UA before Rich Rodriguez was hired as head coach.
“I knew if that situation happened, he was going go back to Coach Scelfo,” Quinn said. “He and Coach Scelfo have a great bond. It’s the best situation for Matt.”
NFL Decision: Signed with Eagles
Quinn and the Philadelphia Eagles fit like a glove. Head coach Chip Kelly was at Oregon for the last four years, and coached against Quinn. Kelly’s spread offense is fast-paced, which Quinn experienced last year at Arizona with Rodriguez. And finally, Quinn will get the opportunity to snap to his old quarterback in former Wildcat Nick Foles, who Quinn said texted him after he officially signed and told him to make sure he was in shape and that he would love Philadelphia.
One thing that might feel a little bit uncomfortable for Quinn, though, is the move across country.
“I have never been east of Ohio,” Quinn said. “I’ve never been to the East Coast before, but Nick’s told me many times that Philly is a great city. I’m a big fan of Philly cheesesteaks.”
Quinn said that the Eagles’ offensive line coach, Jeff Stoutland, told him that he’d have a shot at playing time. The Eagles starter, Jason Kelce, missed most of the 2012 season with knee injuries and Philadelphia only has one backup — Matt Tennant — listed on its roster.
NFL decision: Signed with Cardinals
During spring ball, Rodriguez said he thought Buckner would catch onto an NFL roster.
Now, Buckner has taken the first step to doing so with the Arizona Cardinals.
Buckner’s climb to the Cardinals roster will be steep, but not impossible — the Cardinals already have All-Pro Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, Andre Roberts and sixth round pick Ryan Swope from Texas A&M.
NFL Decision: Minicamps with Buccaneers and Saints
Tutogi, who doubled as a fullback and defensive end for the UA in 2012, wasn’t signed by anyone like Scott, Buckner or Quinn were, but he still will have ample opportunity to make an NFL roster.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers invited him to their minicamp, which begins Friday. If he earns a contract, he’ll stay there. If not, he’ll go to minicamp with the New Orleans Saints next weekend, which he chose to attend over the New York Jets that same weekend.
“It feels good to know that I’m at least on some team’s radars,” Tutogi said. “It’s disappointing that I didn’t sign with someone, but at the same time, there are guys that don’t even get this opportunity.”