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In 2011, when I blogged at TucsonCitizen.com, I put together the top 10 list of badasses in Arizona football during the Wildcats’ Pac-10/12 existence. To this day, it has developed somewhat of a cult following with even some former Arizona players talking about it.

The story is one of the most popular this growing Web site has produced receiving at 1,200 likes on Facebook.

Former linebacker Scooby Wright III was the latest entry in the list in 2014. He embodies the characteristic of a badass that is synonymous with how the Desert Swarm played at the time of his birth. In fact, Wright was born on Aug. 28, 1994, the same week Sports Illustrated ranked Arizona No. 1 and labeled the Wildcats as “Rock Solid”. Five members of the Desert Swarm, including College Football Hall of Famer Tedy Bruschi, were on the cover.

The dictionary definition for “badass”:
badassdefinition

Bruschi was a badass similar to Wright, both of whom were under the radar when it came to recruiting during their high school careers in northern California. Wright is Arizona’s greatest sack threat since Bruschi and he recorded 29 tackles for lost yardage this season, second in school history.

Where does Wright, war paint and all on his face, rank among his badass brethren? Here are the top 10 rankings for offense and defense:

NO. 10
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OFFENSE: NICK FOLES, QUARTERBACK (2009-11)
Former Oregon coach Chip Kelly once labeled Foles a “warrior” after Foles stomached five sacks and still completed 34 of 57 passes for 398 yards in the Wildcats’ 56-31 loss to the Ducks on Sept. 24, 2011 at Arizona Stadium. “I catch myself watching him in awe sometimes,” Kelly said. “Nick is a hell of a football player. That kid’s a warrior. He’s as good as anyone in the country.”

Jimmie Hopkins served in the Army after his football playing days at Arizona (Hopkins photo)
Jimmie Hopkins served in the Army after his football playing days at Arizona (Hopkins photo)

DEFENSE: JIMMIE HOPKINS, DEFENSIVE END (1990-93)
Hopkins opted out of spring practice in 1993, leading up to the season that the Wildcats finished 10-2 and beat Miami in the Fiesta Bowl. What’s so badass about that, you say? Hopkins missed spring practice because he joined the Army. His goal was to become an Airborne Ranger. And he later did serve in the military. Hopkins, overshadowed on the defensive line by Rob Waldrop, Ty Parten, Tedy Bruschi and Jim Hoffman, remained on campus, rejoined the team for fall drills and was an important contributor to the Desert Swarm defense.

NO. 9
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OFFENSE: DENNIS NORTHCUTT, WIDE RECEIVER (1996-99)
Northcutt, Arizona’s season receiving yards leader, caught eight passes for 121 yards and a touchdown in Arizona’s 31-24 win over USC in Tucson when he was a senior in 1999. That was only half of his contribution to the Wildcat victory. Also playing cornerback, Northcutt virtually shut down USC receiver R. Jay Soward, according to an Associated Press report of the game. Northcutt was on the field for 90 plays. As a freshman in 1996, Northcutt switched from cornerback to tailback to wide receiver to tailback to defensive back to receiver. He had two interceptions against Illinois that season, returning one 63 yards for a touchdown.

TyParten
“He gave the pregame players-only scream down. When we left that room, we knew it was gonna be a war.” — former Arizona offensive lineman Eric Johnson said of Ty Parten (pictured), who gave a rousing pre-game speech before Arizona lost at No. 1 Miami 8-7 in 1992.

DEFENSE: TY PARTEN, DEFENSIVE TACKLE (1989-1992)
The Godfather of Arizona’s famed Desert Swarm defense arguably is Parten. As a senior captain in 1992, he lit a flame under the Wildcats (reeling from a 1-1-1 start) as they prepared to play on the Orange Bowl turf against top-ranked Miami. One of his teammates, offensive lineman Eric Johnson, once said: “He gave the pregame players-only scream down. When we left that room, we knew it was gonna be a war.” Arizona coach Dick Tomey sent the entire team to midfield for the coin toss and Miami answered by sending all of its players. Words were exchanged. The Wildcats, with Parten at the forefront, did not back down an inch.

NO. 8
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OFFENSE: HICHAM EL-MASHTOUB, CENTER (1991-94)
El-Mashtoub, a 295-pound center born in Beirut, Lebanon, and raised in Montreal, was viewed as reckless, engaging in a few fights during his Wildcat career. `If you’re not careful, he’ll put one right past you,” former Arizona offensive lineman Warner Smith told Anthony Gimino in an Arizona Daily Star article in 1994. “He’ll make people do what he wants them to do without them knowing it.” El-Mashtoub had a crucial fourth-quarter personal foul when he came off the bench and decked a tackler on the sideline after freshman Gary Taylor returned a kickoff to the 31 in the Cats’ 24-20 loss at California in 1993, a defeat that cost Arizona a spot in the Rose Bowl. El-Mashtoub was held out of the Hancock Bowl at the end of the 1993 season for fighting with a teammate in the locker room after a practice.

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DEFENSE: BRANT BOYER, LINEBACKER (1992-93)
Brant Boyer embodied the merciless image of Arizona’s Desert Swarm defense as a team captain in 1993. Boyer, a senior inside linebacker, talked tough and played that way. The Wildcats lost 8-7 at No. 1 Miami in 1992 in what was the coming-out party for the Desert Swarm. When Arizona was afforded the chance for a rematch in the Fiesta Bowl, Boyer did not hold back.
“This program will be on a new level,” Boyer was quoted as saying by the Miami Herald three days before the game. “When we beat Miami, it’s going to be a different story.”

NO. 7
RobGronkowski
“As a coach, sometimes you try to put players in that situation — you try to break them down, you can see how much they can take — but Rob has a lot of resilience and a lot of physical and mental toughness.” — New England coach Bill Belicheck commenting on his All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski

OFFENSE: ROB GRONKOWSKI, TIGHT END (2007-08)
Gronk can make this list by his name alone, but there is more to his badass image than that while at Arizona and now with the New England Patriots. The play that introduced Arizona and its fans to Gronkowski’s toughness happened a month into his freshman season in 2007. His 57-yard touchdown hookup against Washington State was Gronk-esque. Gronkowski caught the pass from Willie Tuitama at the Wazzu 31, bounced off a defender like a battering ram, Stan Mataele Jersey For Sale
almost lost his footing at the 10, and reached the end zone to give the Wildcats a 41-20 lead. New England coach Bill Belicheck told the NFL Network about Gronkowski: “Rob works very hard. He comes early, he stays late. He’s very physically and mentally tough. You can’t really get him down, you can’t break him. He can really fight through it. As a coach, sometimes you try to put players in that situation — you try to break them down, you can see how much they can take — but Rob has a lot of resilience and a lot of physical and mental toughness.”

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