A-list position battles: Arizona


First in a series taking a look at top position competitions this fall.

Arizona: Weakside linebacker

Why the competition? Xavier Kelly, who earned second-team All-Pac-10 honors last year, graduated.

Candidates: Junior Paul Vassallo (6-foot-3, 240) vs. sophomore R.J. Young (5-foot-11, 232)

The skinny: The Wildcats are replacing all three starting linebackers from 2009, but this spot is the only one on the post-spring depth chart that includes an "OR" between the two candidates as Derek Earls is No. 1 in the middle and Jake Fischer is tops on the strong side. Vassallo is a touted JC transfer who enrolled in January and is still learning the speed of the game. Young's advantage is he knows the system. He saw action in 12 games last year and recorded six tackles, though most of his playing time came on special teams. It's also possible that the defensive coaches might do some experimenting in the fall with different schemes and, perhaps, position changes. In any event, the starter at "Will" linebacker is TBD.