Arizona Wildcat quarterback shows Hawaiian culture
Freshman quarterback Anu Solomon (12) practices with the team. Solomon will be competing for the 2014 starting quarterback position with at least six other quarterbacks.
Anu Solomon has heard many different pronunciations of his name.
From “ann-oo” to “A-nu,” the freshman Arizona quarterback has heard them all, and he has no problem correcting someone when they mispronounce his name.
“It’s pronounced ahun-oo,” Solomon said to members of the media. “It’s Hawaiian and it’s actually my middle name.”
Anu’s full name is Jarrett Anu Solomon, but he prefers his Hawaiian middle name, Anu.
His heritage isn’t just in his name. Solomon has his family crest tattooed on his left shoulder. Surrounding the crest are tattoos representing Polynesian cultures.
“My culture and heritage is something I take to the football field every day,” Solomon said. “In my culture, we’re football players, and it’s what we love to do.”
On the Arizona football team, Solomon isn’t alone in his Polynesian heritage. Four other Wildcats share the same culture and similar tattoos: linebacker Keoni Bush-Loo and offensive linemen Faafoi Faitele, Lene Maiava and Freddie Tagaloa.
“It’s great having them on the team,” Solomon said. “We’re real close on and off the field.”
But despite being called many different names, the freshman quarterback still has yet to make name for himself on the field. And there’s one name he hasn’t heard yet: “Arizona Wildcats’ starting quarterback, Anu Solomon.”
The Las Vegas-born quarterback was a hot commodity coming out of Bishop Gorman high school in 2013. The 6-foot-2 198 pound quarterback started 60 games at the varsity level and won 57 of them. Solomon won four Nevada state high school football titles as a starter.
“He’s solid a passer and deceptively good on his feet,” head football coach Rich Rodriguez said in the fall. “He’s got to get a better command of the offense, though.”
Because he lacked a strong command of the offense and playbook, Solomon was redshirted. The former high school champion spent his entire first year at Arizona on the practice squad and on the bench.
Sitting behind a laundry list of quarterbacks, Solomon struggled to stand out in the coaches’ eyes.
“I was with the team in practice and just making sure I wasn’t lost out there,” Solomon said. “I really had to get to know the playbook and get comfortable with the speed of the game.”
So Solomon hit the books and grabbed a video game controller.
When he wasn’t in practice, Solomon was in his dorm room studying the playbook.
“His whole attitude has changed since the beginning of last season,” sophomore receiver Samajie Grant said. “When we’re just chilling in the dorm he would sometimes grab the playbook and quiz me,”
Solomon’s dedication to understand the playbook didn’t stop with just studying and quizzing teammates. Solomon put the Wildcats’ offensive playbook in the football video game NCAA Football 14 by EA Sports and used that to practice his team’s playbook.
“He’s really become a different quarterback,” Grant added. “Football has taken over.”
With the departure of Arizona’s 2013 starting quarterback, B.J. Denker, an open competition has officially begun. Rodriguez won’t say if he has a favorite and won’t name a starting quarterback until the fall. And as is typical for the third-year Wildcats’ head coach, there won’t even be a depth chart until the season begins.
But that doesn’t scare Solomon.
“As a Hawaiian, we’re born to play football,” Solomon said. “Our fathers have disciplined us to be advanced in this sport.”
—Follow Luke Della @LukeDella