Solomon named starting quarterback
Redshirt freshman quarterback Anu Solomon was named the starting quartingback on Monday. Solomon will see his first game action against UNLV on Friday in a nationally televised game on ESPN.
With the season opener against UNLV four days away, Arizona football head coach Rich Rodriguez placed his bets on former Las Vegas prep star Anu Solomon.
On Monday at his weekly press conference, Rodriguez announced that Solomon, a redshirt freshman, will be the starting quarterback for the Wildcats on Friday against the Rebels. Solomon won the four-quarterback competition, at least for week one.
“I thought he deserves the right to start the first game,” Rodriguez said. “I don’t know who the next guy is, but I told all four of the guys to be ready to play because all four could play. But at the same time, I’m confident that Anu will play well and he’ll be the starter. As long as he plays well, we’ll win.”
Solomon beat out fifth-year senior Jesse Scroggins, who started his college career at USC, junior Jerrard Randall, who played at LSU and sophomore Connor Brewer, who transferred from Texas.
“I felt normal,” Solomon said. “It was just a normal day. Obviously, it didn’t sink in yet. I still got to get better; I still got three good guys who want the job right now. I just gotta keep working.”
Scroggins and Brewer are considered pro-style quarterbacks, while Randall and Solomon are considered dual-threat signal callers.
“Anu’s a kid that has a lot of capabilities,” senior safety Jared Tevis said. “He can hurt you with his arm or his legs but most importantly, he’s pretty consistent, having good reads, and I think the best attribute that he carries is a kind of composure, and I think that will be big come game time.”
Solomon will be the first freshman to start at quarterback for Arizona since Willie Tuitama in 2005.
Rodriguez said that Solomon played at one of the best high school programs in the country.
Solomon went 57-3 and won four state championships as the starter at Bishop Gorman High School.
“He was probably mature beyond his years then,” Rodriguez said. “I think he’s got a passion for the game. He loves football, and I think he sees the opportunities right in front of him right now.”
UNLV has four players from Bishop Gorman. Solomon said he’s pretty close to his high school teammates, who are Rebels, and that UNLV was one of his top five choices.
Rivals.com and Scout.com rated Solomon as a four-star recruit.
“It was very humbling,” Solomon said about sitting out last year. “I’m used to going in and just playing and doing whatever, but it’s very humbling. Obviously, it was the right thing to do, It got me bigger and stronger and there’s still more room for improvement.”
Senior center Steven Gurrola said Solomon is funny but loud and takes charge.
“I think he brings a lot of energy into the huddle,” Gurrola said.
About a week ago, Solomon said the stress of the quarterback competition didn’t worry him, and that you just need to go out and work hard.
“I think it’s pretty evident he worked hard over the summer, as did the other guys,” Rodriguez said.
All four quarterbacks were listed on the top line of the depth chart that the UA released Monday.
“As I’ve told the quarterbacks [Sunday] night, that doesn’t mean he plays the whole game or that he’ll be the starter the whole season,” Rodriguez said. “But I also don’t want any [quarterback] going in there thinking, ‘As soon as I make a mistake, I’m going out.’”
Last year’s starting quarterback, B.J. Denker, found out he was starting right before the first play from scrimmage when he ran onto the field. Rodriguez joked that he might tweet out the starter.
“I was just as clueless as everyone else,” Solomon said. “I was like, ‘Maybe he will tweet it two hours before the game, we all got to be ready.’”
— Roberto Payne contributed reporting to this article
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