East County Sports

Cecil named UA Director of Player Development


College Football Hall of Famer, former Helix Highlander and UA career interceptions leader Chuck Cecil joins Rich Rodriguez’s staff

Chuck Cecil Named Director of Player Development

TUCSON, Ariz. – Starting nearly immediately, SCOTTIE YOUNG, one of the best defensive backs in the history of Helix High, will have the ear of the most successful Highlanders’ defensive back of all-time.

Chuck Cecil returns an interception for a touchdown against Grossmont in 1983.

Former Arizona football star safety and National Football Foundation College Hall of Fame member CHUCK CECIL has been hired as the program’s Director of Player Development/Defensive Analyst, head coach Rich Rodriguez announced Friday. Cecil will begin work next week with the Wildcats, who report to preseason camp Sunday evening and hold their first official practice on Monday.

“Chuck will be an outstanding addition to our staff,” Rodriguez said. “His playing career both collegiately and professionally speaks for itself, and he’s been a very successful professional coach. I’m excited to utilize his experience and connections as a former Wildcat to fill a variety of key roles within our program.”

A two-time First Team Academic All-America selection (1986-87), Cecil played for Arizona from 1984 to 1987, first under the late Larry Smith and then under former head coach Dick Tomey for his final year. He began as a recruited walk-on from Helix and finished his UA career as one of the Pac-10’s noted and fearless safeties before later being inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2009.

A consensus All-American in 1987, Cecil was the Aloha Bowl MVP and a two-time first-team all-conference selection, plus earned second-team honors as a sophomore. He was named Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year in 1987 and Pac-10 Player of the Week on three occasions.

Off the field, Cecil was a three-time Pac-10 All-Academic selection and culminated his education as a recipient of the NCAA VI Award, one of the nation’s top scholar-athlete citations. He was named Arizona’s male winner of the Pac-10 Conference Medal.

Cecil finished his UA career with the then No. 1 mark in passes defended, 38, which currently is second to Michael Jolivette’s 44 from 2000 to 2003. He led the Wildcats with 80 solo tackles his senior year and also posted the school record that season with four interceptions at Stanford.

Today, Cecil still ranks No. 7 on Arizona’s all-time tackles chart with a total of 392. Additionally, he holds the Arizona career record with 21 interceptions and among those returned one 100 yards for a touchdown against Arizona State in 1986, a play that likely rests atop many UA partisans’ choice as the single-most electrifying and revered moment in UA football history.

Drafted in the fourth round of the 1988 draft by the Green Bay Packers, Cecil spent seven seasons in the NFL with the Packers, Arizona Cardinals and Houston Oilers. He went on to an extensive coaching career under head coach Jeff Fisher, first with the Tennessee Titans from 2001-10 and later the St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams from 2012-16. Cecil was the defensive coordinator for the Titans for the 2009-10 seasons.

Cecil came to La Mesa after his family moved here from Hanford. He played his first two years of his prep career with the Bullpups before becoming a star for the Highlanders.

Although he stood six feet tall and weighed only about 150 pounds at the time, Chuck early on became known for his physical play.

As a senior, the All-CIF safety spearheaded a defense that set a school record for fewest points allowed per game (6.3) and led the Highlanders to the 1982 CIF Title. He set individual records for most passes intercepted in one game (3), one season (10) and career interceptions (19).

In this video, Cecil makes one of the most memorable plays in ASU history, ironically, coming against quarterback Jeff Van Raaphorst, who came out of Grossmont.

He has also served as an analyst for FOX Sports Arizona.

The move allows former Highlander Young to learn his craft under Cecil, known for his gritty, cerebral play.

The Wildcats report to their preseason camp this Sunday. Arizona’s first official practice will be Monday evening, July 31. Daily practices (with Sundays off) will continue through Saturday, Aug. 19, before classes begin Monday, Aug. 21. Fans are invited to the annual Beanie Bowl to be held at 6 p.m. inside Arizona Stadium on Friday, Aug. 25, capped by an autograph session with the team.

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