With Nick Foles, Matt Scott advancing to NFL, Arizona Wildcats quarterbacks have never been better

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David Maialetti and David Maialetti | The Daily Wildcat Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles throws a pass during the 1st quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Sunday, December 2, 2012. (David Maialetti/Philadelphia Inquirer/MCT)

It was the second quarter, the Philadelphia Eagles were playing the Dallas Cowboys at Lincoln Financial Field. There were almost 70,000 raucous fans in the City of Brotherly Love.

Eagles quarterback Michael Vick was injured in the second quarter.

So, with 7:41 remaining, rookie Nick Foles entered the game under center.

After two handoffs to his running back, Foles attempted the first pass of his NFL career — an incomplete pass attempt to receiver Jason Avant, who was injured on the play.

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Not exactly the best start to an NFL career, but for the former Arizona quarterback, the moment was significant.

Before Foles attempted that pass — and 264 more — the Arizona Wildcats hadn’t had a quarterback throw a pass in the NFL in nearly 40 years.

That pass came from Bill Demory, a New York Jets undrafted rookie who subbed in for an injured Joe Namath. It was the lone pass attempt of his career.

If you haven’t caught on, NFL quarterbacks coming from the UA have been few and far between.

After this weekend, though, the Wildcats should have two.

The Eagles selected Foles in the third round last year, and his successor, Matt Scott, is expected to be selected in this year’s draft, which begins Thursday night.

Frank Scelfo, the former Arizona quarterbacks coach, knew he had two pro-level quarterbacks in his locker room when both Foles and Scott arrived at the UA.

“My first spring in Arizona, I sat in a staff meeting and I told [former head coach] Mike Stoops we had two quarterbacks on our roster that could win games in the Pac-12, and two quarterbacks on our roster that were going to play in the NFL,” Scelfo told the Daily Wildcat in February.

Heck, if not for concussion problems and multiple DUI arrests, former Wildcat Willie Tuitama had a good shot at being drafted in 2009.

Are we in a golden age for Arizona-bred NFL quarterbacks?

Considering the Wildcats’ not-so-illustrious history at the position, that gets a “yes.”

Before last year’s NFL Draft, there had been 3,659 games started and 114,730 passes thrown by what was the Pac-10 quarterbacks in the NFL since Demory threw that pass in 1974. Arizona is the only school to not have contributed to that total, as it had the big goose egg — zero pass attempts, zero games played and, more importantly, zero NFL Draft picks.

After the weekend, the Wildcats will have had its only two quarterbacks drafted into the NFL since 1962 — when Eddie Wilson was picked by the Dallas Texans — in consecutive years. Ironically, it might be to the same team.

Scott already had a private workout with the Eagles, and with former Oregon coach Chip Kelly taking the reins in Philadelphia there is a need for a dual-threat quarterback, which Foles is not. Kelly has publicly supported Foles as an Eagles quarterback, but a slow-footed signal caller like Foles just does not fit in Kelly’s fast-paced, run-first offense.

Scott does.

At the NFL Scouting Combine in February, Scott ran a 4.69 40-yard dash and had combine-bests in running the 3-cone drill in 6.99 seconds and 20-yard-shuttle in 3.99 seconds. His 20-yard shuttle is, according to NFL.com, the fastest time in recent years, besting top 2013 dual-threat prospects like Geno Smith and EJ Manuel, not to mention quarterbacks from recent years like Russell Wilson and Tim Tebow.

If Scott were drafted to the Eagles, and was fighting Foles for a job, wouldn’t that be something?

Foles essentially took Scott’s starting job from him in 2009, and Scott might turn around and do the same thing in the NFL.

Maybe they’ll snatch up B.J. Denker, too.

Arizona quarterbacks in the NFL

Arizona quarterbacks have been few and far between in the NFL, but Matt Scott and Nick Foles are the Wildcats’ most recent success stories. Before them, Willie Tuitama had a shot at the NFL before concussions and DUI arrests derailed his career. Here’s a look at the trio’s pre-draft profiles.

*All according to NFLdraftscout.com

Willie Tuitama
Year: 2009
Arizona career stats (40 games, 38 starts): 9,211 passing yards, 67 touchdowns, 31 interceptions, 61.6 completion percentage
Pre-draft ranking: 26th out of 114 quarterbacks
Result: Undrafted, out of NFL

Nick Foles
Year: 2012
Arizona career stats (36 games, 33 starts): 10,011 yards, 67 touchdowns, 33 interceptions, 66.9 completion percentage
Pre-draft ranking: 11th out of 80 quarterbacks
Result: Picked 3rd round, 88th overall by Philadelphia

Matt Scott
Year: 2013
Arizona career stats (34 games, 16 starts): 4,921 yards, 33 touchdowns, 19 interceptions, 61.4 completion percentage, 1,138 rushing yards, 8 touchdowns
Pre-draft ranking: 8th out 111 quarterbacks
Draft projection: 3rd-4th round

— Zack Rosenblatt is a journalism senior, he can be reached at sports@wildcat.arizona.edu or on Twitter via @ZackBlatt.


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