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A Stellar Class

By Chris Jackson
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
November 5, 1999


Aaron Farnsworth
Arizona Daily Wildcat

Senior quarterback Keith Smith takes the snap during the home game against USC in which the Wildcats won 3124. Smith will be part of the senior class of 22 that will be playing their last home game of their careers tomorrow afternoon at 1:30 against Washington.

When the Arizona football team leaves the field tomorrow afternoon, regardless of the outcome of the game against Washington, 22 players will be leaving the field for the last time.

The Wildcats' seniors include a number of big names and some who toiled in obscurity during their time at UA. Several of the seniors shared their thoughts on the final home game of their careers.

Marcus Bell
Role: starting inside linebacker
Awards/records: Butkus Award and Bronko Nagurski Award candidate
Season stats: 82 tackles, 9 for a loss, 0.5 sacks, 1 INT
Career stats: 363 tackles, 38 for a loss, 7.5 sacks, 1 INT
Unavailable for comment

Trung Canidate
Role: starting tailback
Awards/records: pre-season Doak Walker Award candidate, only 162 yards short of the UA career record for rushing
Season stats: 191 carries, 1,118 yards, 8 TD, 192 yards receiving, 1 TD receiving
Career stats: 542 carries, 3,340 yards, 23 TD, 407 yards receiving, 1 TD receiving
Quote: "I take the same approach that I take to every game. It's another football game, I'm going to put everything I've got out on the field and let the cards fall where they may."

Leland Gayles
Role: starting cornerback
Season stats: 21 tackles, 3 passes broken up
Career stats: 33 tackles, 5 passes broken up
Quote: "It's going to be special, it's our last game, but they're the No. 1 team in the conference so it's going to be a big game on top of that."

Kelvin Hunter
Role: starting cornerback
Season stats: 29 tackles, 1 sack, 1 INT, 7 passes broken up
Career stats: 66 tackles, 1 sack, 5 INT, 26 passes broken up
Quote: "I'm going to treat it like it's another game. I've got two more left, but this is my last home game. It's going to be very special, but I'm going to treat it like it's any other game; play with all my heart."

Rafell Jones
Role: starting free safety
Season stats: 11 tackles
Career stats: 86 tackles, 2 INT, 4 passes broken up
Quote: "My thoughts going in are go in and lay it out on the field. It's my last home game, just to get out there and not really think about too much, but to just put it all on the line and have one of the best football games that I can possibly have. And just to celebrate with my teammates."

Dennis Northcutt
Role: starting wide receiver, punt returner, part-time cornerback
Awards/records: Bilitnekoff Award candidate, UA all-time leader in receptions (196), receiving yards (2,917) and punt return yards (778)
Season stats: 64 receptions, 1,087 yards receiving, 7 TD receiving, 311 yards in punt returns, 1 TD in punt returns, 201 yards rushing, 1 TD rushing
Career stats: 196 receptions, 2,917 yards receiving, 22 TD receiving, 778 yards in punt returns, 1 TD in punt returns, 1 TD in interception returns, 408 yards rushing, 2 TD rushing
Quote: "Make the last one count. This is it. There's nothing better than a win. Right now I don't really care how we get it. A win would just make a lot of the seniors happy, to go out with a win. It's not too emotional for me, you've got to move on

Greg Payne
Role: starting strong safety
Season stats: 32 tackles, 2 for a loss, 1 INT, 4 passes broken up
Career stats: 68 tackles, 5 for a loss, 3 INT, 7 passes broken up
Unavailable for comment

DaShon Polk
Role: starting whip linebacker
Season stats: 49 tackles, 9 for a loss, 2 sacks
Career stats: 161 tackles, 34 for a loss, 10 sacks
Quote: "It means a lot. It means a lot to my team, too; to my class. To just leave here with a victory would be great. A lot of guys, a lot of seniors from the past say it really doesn't hit them 'til the game is over. I'll probably have a better answer if you ask me after the game. Right now I'm looking forward to playing. I'm ready, I'm excited. It's going to be a good one, though. We never thought we'd be in this predicament at all, but I guess it's a good one right now. We've got the chance to turn some things around."

Manuia Savea
Role: starting right tackle
Unavailable for comment

Keith Smith
Role: starting quarterback
Awards and records: UA career leader in completion percentage (60.7 percent)
Season stats: 92 for 153, 1,365 yards, 8 TD, 5 INT, 161 yards rushing, 1 TD
Career stats: 395 for 651, 5,434 yards, 40 TD, 24 INT, 1,087 yards rushing, 14 TD
Quote: "It is going to be emotional. I am never going to be able to play another game in here again, this is my last one, so I want to make it enjoyable, I really do. I am going to miss this whole stadium, which is pretty much the reason I came here. I just felt that this stadium is totally different from every other Pac-10 school, every other Pac-10 school was the same, but this one was different. I have had so many great times here, that I just don't want to leave. I just want to go out with a victory, that is my only goal. I am going to be so excited Saturday. All of my family is going to be here, supporting me. When I run through the tunnel they are going to be out on the field and I am going to be able to hug them. I just want to give it my all on Saturday."

Scooter Sprotte
Role: inside linebacker
Season stats: 30 tackles, 2 for a loss, 1 sack (currently injured)
Career stats: 93 tackles, 10 for a loss, 1 sack, 3 INT, 134 rushing yards, 1 TD rushing
Quote: "I ain't going to be able to play, so I can't tell you what my thoughts are. It'll be memorable for all of us. Hopefully we can pull it off, one last one in the stadium."

Jim Wendler
Role: starting fullback
Season stats: 9 carries, 29 yards, 1 TD
Career stats: 19 carries, 71 yards, 3 TD
Quote: "It is going to be extremely emotional for me, yet it is going to be nice because my whole family is going to be there. Hopefully, we'll have a good send-off for the five years I've been here. I don't differentiate (between Washington and any other opponent). I just go out and kick ass whenever I can. It doesn't matter to me. If we're playing Middle Tennessee State I am still going to give the best effort I can. This game is like any other- it's just another football game we need."
Other seniors

Rudy Brathwaite
Role: scout team wide receiver

Luis Campos
Role: scout team defensive back Season stats: out for the year with an injury

Derek Hall
Role: special teams player

James Hinrichs
Role: special teams player
Season stats: 2 tackles

J.J. Joppru
Role: defensive tackle
Season stats: 11 tackles, 2 sacks
Career stats: 15 tackles, 2 sacks

James Lewis
Role: defensive tackle
Season stats: 9 tackles, 0.5 sacks
Career stats: 15 tackles, 0.5 sacks

Mark McDonald
Role: starting kicker
Season stats: 1 for 10 in field goals
Career stats: 16 for 37 in field goals

Dolphin Tillman
Role: reserve defensive lineman
Season stats: none
Career stats: 15 tackles, 1 for a loss

Ega Usu
Role: reserve offensive lineman

D.J. Vasquez
Role: reserve outside linebacker
Season stats: 3 tackles
Career stats: 10 tackles, 2 for a loss

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