COLUMBUS, OH - SEPTEMBER 3: Brian Wagner #34 of the Akron Zips is unable to stop Jake Stoneburner #11 of the Ohio State Buckeyes as he dives into the end zone to score during the second quarter on September 3, 2011 at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
Arizona Wildcats linebacker Brian Wager, Akron Zips transfer, was set to take a starting job for Zona the year after finishing No. 5 in the country in tackles and second among all returning players. But Wagner told the Tucson Citizen he's made a surprising decision to quit the sport.
"I don't have love for the game anymore," Wagner told TucsonCitizen.com on Friday. "I told Coach that, and that was it. It was something I was thinking about for a long time. That's kind of where I'm at right now."
It's already been a very busy offseason for new coach Rich Rodriguez, as detailed in Bill Connelly's Wildcats season preview published earlier in the day.
Wagner's departure is a huge void for a Wildcat defense that ranked No. 107 in points allowed last season. Wagner was immediately eligible per NCAA regulations for graduate students. UA's linebacking corps already was its likely greatest weakness. Now, defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel faces an even more uphill battle readying the unit for competition in an offensively proficient Pac-12.
And said Connelly of Wagner just this morning:
If they can hold up their end of the bargain, a couple of new(ish) faces at linebacker could help. Akron transfer Brian Wagner, the perfect definition of a tackling machine (he made 14.6 percent of Akron's tackles last year but didn't really make many plays in the process), will finish his career as a Wildcat; plus, junior Jake Fischer, a standout for Arizona in 2010 before missing last season with injury (a common theme), should be 100 percent this fall.
While we’re here, let’s watch some college football videos from SB Nation’s new YouTube channel together: