Arizona Wildcats

Getty Images

Ex-Nebraska WR Keyshawn Johnson Jr. reportedly lands at Arizona

Leave a comment

It appears Keyshawn Johnson Jr. will continue his collegiate playing career a little bit further west than where it began.

On the same day that Kevin Sumlin was hired as the head coach at Arizona, Nate Clouse of reported that Johnson will be enrolling at UA this week and play for the Wildcats. The son of former USC great Keyshawn Johnson will be eligible to play immediately for Sumlin in 2018.

In late June of last year, Johnson was cited for marijuana possession and possession of drug paraphernalia.  Not long after, the wide receiver decided to take a leave of absence, with his famous father stating that his son needed some time to “mature” and would not play for the Cornhuskers in 2017.

At the time, the plan was for the junior Johnson to return to Lincoln and play his college football for Mike Riley.  With his father’s college offensive coordinator dismissed at the end of the regular season, Johnson took to Twitter in mid-December to announce that he wouldn’t be returning to the Cornhuskers.

Johnson was a four-star member of the Cornhuskers’ 2017 recruiting class who was an early enrollee and participated in spring practice, but never played a down for NU. Before signing with Nebraska, he held offers from, among others, Alabama, Clemson, Florida State, Miami, Ohio State and USC.

Arizona confirms hiring of Kevin Sumlin

Getty Images

One Pac-12 program’s home-run hire has been confirmed.

Sunday afternoon, reports surfaced that Kevin Sumlin had been hired as Rich Rodriguez‘s replacement at Arizona.  Sunday night, the university announced that Sumlin is indeed the Wildcats’ new head football coach.

Sumlin will be introduced at a press conference Tuesday.

“This is a tremendous day for Arizona Football and I am thrilled to welcome Kevin to our family,” said athletic director Dave Heeke in a statement. “He is a proven winner who will have an immediate impact on not only our football program, but also on our department and University. An accomplished coach and an excellent recruiter, Kevin shares our vision and values and fits with who we are and who we want to be. His commitment to academics and to community service are a testament to his character. I have no doubt that Kevin will bring an exciting brand of football to Tucson and that championships will follow.”

“I am humbled and honored to join the Arizona Family,” said Sumlin. “With a strong foundation already in place, we will work quickly to assemble an elite coaching staff and immediately begin the work of establishing our culture, recruiting future Wildcats, and connecting with Wildcats past and present. We will win championships. We will graduate our players and they will contribute to the University in many ways while they are here. We will represent Arizona with class and pride. I want to thank President Robbins and Dave Heeke for the opportunity to be a part of something special and I cannot wait to get started.”

Sumlin spent the past six seasons as the head coach at Texas A&M, fired after going 51-26 overall and 25-23 in SEC play.  In that same span, Rodriguez was 43-35 and 24-30 at UA.

In Sumlin’s first season with the Aggies, redshirt freshman Johnny Manziel won the Heisman Trophy as a dual-threat quarterback.  Sumlin has now been hired into a situation where rising true junior Khalil Tate is one of the most explosive and productive dual-threat quarterbacks in the country.

Arizona reportedly set to hire Kevin Sumlin as head coach

Getty Images

Earlier today it became known that Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo would not be the new head coach at Arizona. Here’s how that post ended:

With Niumatalolo out of the picture, expect Arizona to move on to its next candidate quickly, perhaps as early as today.

Well, it’s still today, and it appears Arizona has its man. According to a tweet from Gil Brandt, the Wildcats will hire Kevin Sumlin as their next head coach.

Sumlin, of course, went 51-26 as the head coach at Texas A&M from 2012 through this past season. He was 35-17 in the four seasons before that at Houston.

And considering his track record with his former quarterbacks — highlighted by Johnny Manziel — Sumlin should have no problem winning the approval of franchise quarterback Khalil Tate.

Ken Niumatalolo pulls name from Arizona search

Getty Images

You can say he wasn’t offered the job, you can say he passed on it — either way, Ken Niumatalolo isn’t leaving Navy for Arizona.

SI’s Bruce Feldman and ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg tweeted as much on Sunday.

Niumatalolo later confirmed as much in a text message to ESPN’s Heather Dinich, saying, “After much prayer and pondering, it has become crystal clear the USNA is a special place with special people and I LOVE IT HERE!!! Plus I have unfinished business to finish.”

This is the second time in three years Niumatalolo has heavily flirted with leaving the Naval Academy only to ultimately remain in Annapolis. He did the same “I’m passing/We never offered you” dance with BYU, leading the Cougars to hire Kalani Sitake.

It’s hard to believe the Niumatalolo-Arizona courtship wasn’t heavily impacted by a since-deleted tweet Wildcats quarterback Khalil Tate fired off on Friday, saying he didn’t come to Tucson to run the “tripple (sic) option.” There is thought within the coaching community that Niumatalolo run the triple option at Navy because it’s the attack best suited for the Midshipmen’s program and the type of players it can recruit and, thus, he would modify his offense at a new school.

But then again, until Niumatalolo actually leaves Navy, how could anyone possibly know? Since 1995, Niumatalolo has spent all but three seasons in Annapolis.

Regardless of the circumstances, Niumatalolo’s return is a good thing for Navy. At 84-48, he is the most successful coach in the Academy’s modern history. His 2015 season, in which the Middies went 11-2, won the AAC West and finished the year ranked No. 18 in the polls, is the Academy’s best since a No. 2 finish in 1963, when the club was quarterbacked by Heisman winner Roger Staubach.

With Niumatalolo out of the picture, expect Arizona to move on to its next candidate quickly, perhaps as early as today.


QB Khalil Tate seems quite displeased with reports connecting Ken Niumatalolo to Arizona job

Getty Images

This could potentially end up going sideways for the Arizona football program.

Friday, reports surfaced that Navy’s Ken Niumatalolo was a “strong candidate” to take over as the head coach at Arizona.  While the potential move was widely applauded in most corners, one individual in particular appeared to be decidedly displeased with the possibility of the coach bringing his option offense out west.

On his personal Twitter account in a tweet that has since been deleted – we’ve saved it for posterity’s sake — star quarterback Khalil Tate wrote that “he didn’t come to Arizona to run the tripple (sic) option.”

Tate also used a hashtag to reinforce who he feels should be the permanent replacement for Rich Rodriguez: interim head coach and defensive coordinator Marcel Yates.

Tate is one of the most dynamic playmakers at the quarterback position — hell, at any position — in college football and is a huge key if the Wildcats and whatever coach they ultimately settle on are to make noise in the Pac-12.  He’ll likely enter the 2018 season as one of a handful of legitimate Heisman Trophy contenders.

Whether the football program can keep him from transferring elsewhere remains to be seen.  There had been speculation shortly after Rodriguez was fired that Tate was seriously considering a transfer; the player’s mother came out and stated that he wouldn’t be leaving the school.

Again on his Twitter account, he set the record straight that those words weren’t his.

If Niumatalolo is indeed hired, it appears he’ll have some work to do in order to keep the dynamic Tate on the roster.