Trio of Former Wildcats Drafted Into the NFL


Malachi Hatfield, Reporter

The UofA isn’t exactly known for producing a ton of NFL players. But the small list was made a little bigger this year. For the first time in 7 years, three former Wildcats were all taken in the same draft. Former Arizona linebacker Tony Fields II was taken in the fifth round by the Cleveland Browns. He was a Wildcat for majority of his college career, before transferring to West Virginia for his final year. In the 2020 season, was named to the All-Big-12 first team and the Big-12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year.


The next Wildcat taken was defensive tackle Roy Lopez. Lopez was taken by the Houston Texans in the sixth round with the 195th overall pick. He played four seasons at New Mexico State before transferring and playing a singular graduate season here in Tucson. Lopez totaled 137 total tackles, as well as eight sacks in 40 games at NMSU.


Running back Gary Brightwell was selected in the sixth round as well. Being picked by the New York Giants just one spot behind Lopez, at 196. He adds depth to the Giants injury prone running back group. In his four seasons in the Grand Canyon state, Brightwell equated over 1,300 yards. As well as getting to the end zone 9 times. The Cats had standout running back J.J. Taylor managing majority of the load, so Brightwell’s touches were limited. He was still named an All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention in the 2020 season and “established himself as an elite running back in the Pac-12”.

There’s some doubts about his ability to perform at a high level consistently, but he has plenty of time to learn from veteran players like Saquon Barkley and Devontae Booker.

Although the transition from college to the pros is very often difficult, there might be a game changer or two from Tucson ready to change how people view the football culture here.