You’re probably tired of hearing about it. The Arizona Wildcats lost a ton of players on the defensive side of the ball, causing everybody and their mother to pick the Cats’ to finish last in the Pac-12 this upcoming season. But could Arizona’s offense be enough to balance out a potential slumping defense? Sophomore quarterback Grant Gunnell certainly thinks so.
“We don’t take [preseason predictions] seriously at all, that’s like a joke to me," Gunnell said. "I feel like we are going to shock some people.”
Gunnell and sophomore wide receiver Jalen “Boobie” Curry feel their longtime connection can be the difference-maker in 2020. The duo met during their freshman year of high school at a football camp and became friends ever since. Curry and Gunnell later teamed up at St. Pius X high school in Woodlands, Texas where Gunnell set the state’s all-time passing yards record. Curry put up some statistics too, breaking the state record for most receptions in a single game with 26 back in Oct. of 2017.
“At the end of the day, when things get rough and tough on the field and it’s hard to move the ball downfield, we always had a little connection … to make a play happen and get through adversity,” Curry said.
The connection between the two quickly evolved into a family bond, with Gunnell and Curry going to each other’s houses for dinner and even spending Thanksgiving nights together. But when the time came for the duo to choose where they each wanted to play in college, teaming up at the next level was never a priority — but it was always a consideration.
“It was in the back of our heads but at the end of the day, we wanted to do what’s best for us,” Curry said. “I knew that [Gunnell] coming to Arizona with [Noel Mazzone] that we were going to throw the ball so it was a perfect fit for both of us.”
Gunnell’s first season with the Wildcats was an impressive one, starting in eight games and throwing for 1,239 passing yards with nine touchdowns to just one interception. While Gunnell had continued to show off his skills at the next level, the other half of the dynamic duo went rather unnoticed.
Curry battled a shoulder injury in the 2019 preseason camp, forcing him to fall behind on reps and finishing his freshman season with just six catches for 68 yards.
“My freshman year was kind of a frustrating and disappointing year,” Curry said. “But I went into this offseason during quarantine and was grinding every day, working hard and improving in all aspects of the game that can help me on the field. I’ve definitely upgraded from a skills standpoint from my game. I feel great, I feel a hundred percent healthy now and ready to go.”
Curry now hopes to be a part of a turnaround season for Arizona after a disappointing 2019 campaign. The Wildcats began the 2019 season 4-1 before ending the year with a seven-game losing streak and finishing with a 4-8 record.
“We had a pretty bad year,” Curry said. “We started off the season strong and then went into that huge slump … we just have to look forward and bounce-back this year.”
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