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Into the fire

By Chris Jackson
Arizona Summer Wildcat
August 9, 1999
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Scott Andrew Taras
Arizona Summer Wildcat

UA wide receiver Marvin Brown, a junior college transfer, takes a break from his one-on-one workout with wide receiver's coach Rob Ianello (right) at Wednesday's newcomer's practice. The Wildcats hope that Brown adds to the depth at wide receiver, a position which already boasts seniors Dennis Northcutt and Brad Brennan.

A No. 3 national ranking, an opener at No. 4 Penn State and the rigors of 11 days of practice at Cochise College in Douglas are daunting enough for most UA football players

But for two players, the time they will spend at Camp Cochise will determine just how much effect they're going to have on Arizona maintaining that ranking and beating the Nittany Lions.

Junior wide receiver Marvin Brown, a transfer from Chabot (Calif.) College, and redshirt freshman running back Leo Mills have the potential to be impact players in 1999, but until they get out on the field, no one knows just how big of an impact they might make.

"The jury's still out on Leo," said offensive coordinator Dino Babers. "The last time I saw him on the field was on tape from his senior year of high school, and that's over a year ago.

"We're excited to see him out on the field (at Camp Cochise)."

Babers said similar things about Brown.

"With a JC player, you know what you're getting when you recruit him," he said. "Whether he can move by some people already on the team like Malosi Leonard and Michael Hairgrove remains to be seen."

Mills, a 1997 Parade Magazine All-American running back from Humble, Texas, sat out last year to concentrate on academics. While he agreed with that decision in the long run, it wasn't easy for him when the season started in 1998.

"At first I couldn't (deal with it)," he said. "I had a real hard time. Then I was talking to my family and the coaches and I accepted it."

Babers said taking a year off can motivate a player.

"He grew from that," Babers said. "Hopefully that builds a fire in him. He had to want to play last year. He should be dying to get on the field by now."

Mills said his only goal now is to make the traveling squad.

"I plan on working hard for a spot," he said. "I just want to contribute as much as a I can. You just have to have the heart, size and speed."

The Wildcats' starting running back, senior Trung Canidate, said he thinks Mills has the potential to make an impact even as a back-up.

"Just off what I know and what I've seen he's a quality back," Canidate said. "I think he has the physical tools. The thing you worry about is whether he's got the mentality right. When you're young, a lot of times you don't have that, but I think he does."

Canidate agreed the time spent on the sidelines can benefit Mills now.

"I remember when I was young and I wanted to play so bad," Canidate said. "He's probably the same way."

Brown was one of two junior college wide receivers recruited by the UA this season. But the other receiver, Brandon Marshall, has a wrist injury and may redshirt the season, leaving Brown as the most experienced Arizona newcomer.

"Marvin does have good speed," Babers said. "He's one of our fastest receivers. You just have to wait and see how he does in a game, out on the mine field with all those DB's chasing him down."

UA senior wide receiver Dennis Northcutt said it was important for Brown to spend the whole summer in Tucson working out with his new teammates.

"Right now we're looking for anybody who can contribute and I expect he'll be one of those guys," Northcutt said.

Brown was taken aside by the coaching staff during newcomers' practice Wednesday afternoon to work one-on-one, but he just shrugged it off as not being special treatment.

"It's just to further learn the offense," he said. "I'm technically not a freshman. They just needed to test me out separately.

"I just want to get out there and contribute right away."

Brown said the start of Camp Cochise on Saturday came rather quickly.

"This summer went in the blink of an eye," he said. "This came so fast. I think the Penn State game is going to be the same way."

Brown and Mills will return from Camp Cochise with the rest of the team Aug. 17, and they open against PSU in Happy Valley on Aug. 28.