Arizona’s secondary brings stability amid coaching transition | News

Jenna Fink
3 Min Read

TUCSON, Ariz. (KVOA) – The first week of Arizona Football’s spring practice is in the books!

The Wildcats returned to the field all together for the first time under Brent Brennan. 

Most of Arizona’s secondary returned for the 2024 season, including a trio of leaders in Gunner Maldonado, Treydan Stukes and Dalton Johnson.

There’s been a lot of changes to this program, but the Cats have continuity on in the secondary. It’s led by a trio of Gunner Maldonado, Treydan Stukes and Dalton Johnson, who decided to stay.

“Us three wanted to stay together a lot,” Maldonado said of him, Stukes and Johnson. “When you have guys like Noah and TMac saying let’s keep it at home, it’s very encouraging. That’s what happened.”

The trio also found it encouraging that Brennan brought on Duane Akina as defensive coordinator. 

“It definitely swayed our decision,” Stukes said. “We talked about it a lot. The growth we had was no secret. We dedicated a lot of that to the way Akina coaches and what he demands from us every day in practice.”

“We love him,” Linebacker Jacob Manu said. “We’re glad he’s our defensive coordinator. He’s a guy who’s going to push us. He’s going to lead us in the right direction. He’ll make sure we’re always prepared.”

For Akina, the feeling was mutual. 

“It was a big reason why I chose to come back,” he said. Just being part of them.”

Akina said the defense will look different this season. 

“We’re probably a little more aggressive up front,” Akina explained. “In the secondary, we’ve added a coverage that was kind of the guts of us when I was at Texas and Stanford.”

The Wildcats said have the same core of guys helps shrink the learning curve. 

“Those are our leaders,” Manu said. “They’re a big part of our defense. Coach Akina always talks about it. Our back seven is pretty legit.”

“Gunner Maldonado. Treydan Stukes, get used to the name,” Akina said. “Nationally, you need to get used to the name. I’ve been around a lot of really outstanding defensive backs. Dalton is the same way. You can do a lot of stuff. They’re concept learners, not memory learners.”

That’s allowing Akina to dive into the Wildcats’ defense and the theory behind it.

“They’re starting to understand how the defenses are built,” Akina said. “Don’t just learn your position. Learn how the structure of the defense is built. What they’re doing and why.”

Akina and the Wildcats resume practice Tuesday. 

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Jenna Fink , – Vivrr Local Results in sports of type article , 2024-03-31 04:50:00
Tags: sports, armed forces, american football

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