Triple threat: McAlister playing offense
Don't call him Slash just yet, but the University of Arizona football team might have one on its hands for the 1998 season.
Senior and two-time first-team All-Pacific 10 Conference cornerback Chris McAlister once again displayed his athletic ability last night in a controlled scrimmage held at Arizona Stadium.
In two previous years in the Wildcat defensive backfield McAlister has totaled 11 interceptions with one touchdown, in addition to 34 kickoff returns for 861 yards and a touchdown.
"Chris is just a really outstanding player," head coach Dick Tomey said. "This year he is a better football player because he has worked real hard. He is a technician."
McAlister adds a third weapon to his arsenal as an extra wide receiver that Tomey can use.
Last night McAlister shined again under the lights of Arizona Stadium, picking off one pass for a touchdown and receiving two more scoring strikes.
When asked how much he plans to use McAlister on offense Tomey responded quickly, "A few plays, maybe five to six to seven a game."
With Heisman hoopla surrounding the campuses of UCLA and Arizona State in the Pac-10, for quarterback Cade McNown and running back J.R. Redmond, respectively, Arizona's best chance to compete will be with McAlister.
"That is not even entering my mind," McAlister said of winning college football's most prestigious award. "As the season progresses I still will have no thoughts on whether I should win it or even be in the race. That is up to the fans and media to decide."
The Wildcats' thoughts are, however, on the Hawaii Rainbows, who they play a week from tomorrow, and Tomey does not want anything to jade the thoughts of his players, especially McAlister.
"Right now we are just trying to play a game. We have a long way to go before we can worry about all that," Tomey said.
McAlister began his collegiate career at Mount San Antonio College in Walnut, Calif., where in 1995 he scored five touchdowns, two on interceptions and three on punt returns.
A high school quarterback from Pasadena, Calif., McAlister said he would not mind going back home for the New Year's Day Rose Bowl, but he also understands that it starts with Hawaii.
"I think we have a little bit of improvement," McAlister said. "But as a defensive backfield in my experience I think we match up well. There is not one receiver that will be able to control the game against us."
The cornerback who has taken on a few extra jobs since coming to Arizona said he does not mind playing receiver.
"I enjoy it and if it happens, great. If not, I won't be disappointed because I will still be on my favorite side of the ball," he said.