Arizona Reporter: Potential UW Huskies transfer target, Fisch thoughts

Jan 16, 2024, 11:01 AM

UW Huskies coach transfer target Arizona Jonah Coleman...

Arizona RB Jonah Coleman reacts to a first down against Arizona State on Nov. 25, 2022. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

There’s at least one Arizona Wildcats starter who’s expected to follow new UW Huskies head coach Jedd Fisch to Washington, but it won’t be the one most UW fans had their eyes on.

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CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd reported Tuesday morning that quarterback Noah Fifita will remain with Arizona, which leaves Washington still searching for its passer in 2024. Dodd added that wide receiver Tetairoa McMillan is also expected to stay.

The Huskies could see Arizona’s leading rusher in purple in gold this season, though.

“I would expect at least one, running back Jonah Coleman, who led the team in rushing this season,” said Justin Spears, who covers the Wildcats for the Arizona Daily Star, when he joined us Monday on Seattle Sports’ Bump and Stacy. “He’s 5-9, 225 pounds, built like a truck. He can run around you, over you, and through you. This guy is like the next coming of Maurice Jones-Drew.”

Coleman was a 2023 All-Pac-12 honorable mention after a season that saw him rush for 892 yards and five touchdowns, including a 179-yard performance against Colorado and a 143-yard game against USC.

Catch and release with Fisch?

Spears pointed to a dire financial situation in Arizona that allowed Washington to pounce on the opportunity to sign Fisch, but also stressed that Fisch is someone who may have always had his sights set on a bigger fish (no pun intended).

“I never really thought that Washington was Jedd’s ultimate dream job,” Spears said. “Arizona was going to be the stepping stone (but) I thought (it would be) after the 2024 season and potentially Florda, his alma mater, where he coached under Steve Spurrier. Maybe that job would open up, and Florida with SEC money and unlimited resources… Jedd Fisch could really do some damage at a program like Florida. And I always thought that was the option for him, or maybe the NFL, after this upcoming season.”

Does it make Huskies fans nervous to hear about another coach who will be eyeing an SEC opportunity in the future? Absolutely. But the Huskies had a more pressing need than hiring someone who’d commit for a decade, and that was quickly hiring someone to replace Kalen DeBoer who could keep them competitive in their first season in the Big Ten. It was hiring someone who could convince players to avoid the transfer portal and reinvigorate recruiting efforts in 2024 and 2025. That person, for Washington, was Fisch.

And Spears can see it.

“I think the fact that he’s got the NFL background (is good for recruiting),” Spears said. “He’s been coaching in the NFL for 14 seasons. He’s coached under guys like Bill Belichick and Sean McVay and Pete Carroll. And he’s got guys around the facility every spring, some NFL coaching legend is coming by the facility, so he knows what it takes to get to the NFL. He has turned the Arizona football program into kind of the training grounds for the National Football League. That’s the ultimate goal for these guys. So when players see how much you’re prioritizing going to the NFL and developing you and getting you better, and on top of that you seem to really care about them and preach family and culture – and it was a very tight-knit culture at Arizona – players want to be a part of that.”

Listen to the full Bump and Stacy conversation with Justin Spears of the Arizona Daily Star in the podcast at this link or in the player near the top of this post.

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