Each time one of our Pac-12 universities hires a new football coach, we get promises that he will focus on developing and utilizing local talent.
Jedd Fisch is fulfilling that pledge at University of Arizona. He’s committing to using two quarterbacks in the season opener against BYU on Saturday, both of whom are products of Arizona high schools.
Fisch inherited a number of key players when he took over the Wildcat program last December. However, quarterback was not one of them. Grant Gunnel, who started most games last season, left the program and transferred to Memphis.
That left a trio of signal callers from which to choose. Jordan McCloud, a sophomore transfer from University of South Florida, has the most experience with 17 career starts, but missed the spring workouts while completing his undergraduate degree at USF.
So, with McCloud trying to catch up to those already in the fold, Fisch was able to focus on the other two, Gunner Cruz and Will Plummer — neither of whom has much experience.
Plummer, who is in his second year in Tucson, has the most experience between the two. Last year, he saw playing time in a 10-27 loss at UCLA and started in a 13-24 loss at Colorado. Arizona went 0-5 during the COVID-shortened 2020 season.
Cruz (photo above), a redshirt freshman, played for Washington State last season, making one appearance in a Cougars game, a loss to USC.
Plummer was a prolific passer at Gilbert High School, finishing his prep career with over 6,800 yards and 58 touchdowns. He also had 1,016 yards and 13 touchdowns rushing. Cruz played at Casteel High School in Queen Creek, where he threw for 3,598 yards and 30 TDs as a senior, while also rushing for another 14 touchdowns.
Fisch might be slightly prejudiced toward Cruz, the bigger of the two (6-5, 227 lb.), since he is part of the new coach’s first recruiting class. In any case, Cruz will be listed as the official starter against BYU, with Plummer standing by to await his chance to get on the field.
“I’m gonna let the game dictate it (who gets playing time) and see how the game goes, see how they’re doing,” Fisch said in describing how he plans to use two quarterbacks. “They’ll both have opportunities in the first half.”
It will be interesting to see how the two talented youngsters are able to co-exist as both teammates and finalists for a starting job.
To make it even more interesting, the two are roommates… at least for now.
(Photo: Arizona Athletics)