Following the departures of left tackle Mickey Baucus, center Steve Gurrola and right tackle Fabbians Ebbele, all of whom exhausted their eligibility last season, Arizona entered spring practice with a clear priority to find suitable replacements on the offensive line. Friday's spring game will serve as a final test before fall camp, but the Wildcats appear close to shoring up what has the makings of a very good unit, according to Daniel Berk of the Arizona Daily Star.
In an update on the Wildcats' line Sunday, Berk detailed the outlook at the three vacant spots, in addition to returning guards Jacob Alsadek and Cayman Bundage. One interesting takeaway is the development of former Cal co-captain Freddie Tagaloa, who has "taken every rep with the first-team this spring" at left tackle.
Tagaloa was a highly regarded player coming out of Saleisan High in Richmond, California, and saw playing time in 11 of 12 games as a true freshman for the Bears in 2012. But after losing his starting job at left tackle after seven games in 2013, Tagaloa was moved to guard (and out of the starting lineup), essentially marking the end of his time in Berkeley. He transferred to Arizona largely because of his relationship with Arizona offensive line coach Jim Michaelczik, who served in the same capacity at Cal during Tagaloa's freshman year. Even when Tagaloa was benched at Cal, his talent wasn't widely questioned -- it was more about his fit in Tony Franklin's offense -- and he now appears in line for a significant role in Tucson.
Berk writes that fifth-year senior Lene Maiava, who has played four positions on the line during his career, is the likely candidate to end up opposite Tagaloa at right tackle. At center, things are less clear with Carter Wood and Zach Hemmila expected to continue their competition into fall camp.