FIFTEEN WALK-ONS FOR FALL PRESEASON
Bolaji Adewale has done well in the start of his Arizona career. (Photo credits: Maureen Hulsey)
Sept 13- Arizona has finalized their Fall 2019 roster today with the announcement of 14 walk-ons joining the program.
These 14 student-athletes have joined the program at the start of classes, with all of the group making their collective debut in last weekend's preseason opener.
In the backs, Bolaji Adewale (London) has done well on the Wing, while Ryan Sullivan (CT) and Liuvao Toughey (CA) give the Wildcats a pair of hard-running centers. Noah Pittenger joins the program as one of two players in the group that is a crossover athlete, moving to the Rugby pitch for his Junior year after representing the Wildcats in Football. Kevin Reilly is another slightly older new face, transferring to the university after a highly successful season at Scrumhalf with Doylestown RFC (PA).
For the Wildcats, the distinction between walk-on and recruit is a subtle one that fades when the Fall starts as Director of Rugby Sean Duffy explained: "We have a group of players that we scout, recruit, and ideally sign to fill roster spots, but we're limited on the number of players we can on-board in that process. This route allows us to take in a virtually unlimited number of players, provide them meaningful preseason games in Fall, and promote the best for future growth and development. When they get to Tucson, that line's gone. They're all just Rugby players and the cream rises to the top." Last week Arizona announced their 2019 recruiting class, which combines with today's group to give the team over 30 new players this cycle.
Arizona has a rich history of success with players such as these, with stars such as US Eagle Peter Tiberio, All American Dante Weeks, and Most Valuable Back Lucas Bartzis joining the program with either little experience or little exposure to college programs before coming to Tucson. With the explosion of the game at the youth and high school level, the game has evolved to where the 95% have previous experience, a distinct change from the days of the past. Today's roster announcement brings the program to nearly 80 players across three sides, with important preseason action lined up for the next two months in preparation for the 2020 season start in January.