Arizona Football RB Michael Wiley opens up to Zona Zealots

With the Arizona Football team preparing for the 2021 season, I sat down with running back Michael Wiley over a Zoom Call to discuss the upcoming season.

This story starts in Houston, Texas where Michael Wiley and former Arizona Quarterback Grant Gunnell played basketball together as early as the 3rd and 4th grade. Then in later school years enters Boobie Curry, a current Wide Receiver at Arizona to the mix of the three, forever bonded Houston, Texas natives.

With the departure of Gary Brightwell (heading to the NFL Draft), it is Wiley’s time to step up to the No. 1 position and leader in the backfield. He had a rather productive year in the abbreviated 2020 season, where he carried the ball 31 times for 222 yards, 7.2 average yards per carry, three touchdowns, with his longest run being 45 yards. More impressive, Wiley protected the ball well, accounting for 0 fumbles.

His best game rushing, came against the Colorado Buffaloes when he had seven carries for 122 yards (17.4 yards per carry average).  He also added another 33 yards receiving on eight receptions on the season.

His 3 Touchdowns came against Washington, UCLA, and ASU.

With the off-season transfer portal addition of Drake Anderson coming from Northwestern, Michael knows there will be competition for the No. 1 spot and accepts Anderson as a teammate and knows ultimately they can make a strong 1-2 punch out of the backfield.

How did you feel when you heard Grant was transferring?

“Of course Grant leaving is kind of a knock on the team but I wasn’t too worried about it because I think Will Plummer is a great Quarterback and so I was cool with Will. When Grant told me he was transferring I told him to do what is best for you, at the end of the day we are still going to be family, this isn’t going to affect our friendship, if this is better for your future then go ahead and do that”.

Did you ever consider transferring? 

“It was in my mind, kind of in my head, depending on who we hired. The situation was kind of tough, a little bit stressful. I think Coach Fisch is a good coach, him coming in and Arizona hiring him, I think was a good hire so that made me completely bought in to the program”.

What are your team and personal goals for the 2021 season?

“I think, first I am going to start with the team. I think our goal is to have a winning record, I think that is very achievable with our team. I think our team will be really good this year, we have a lot of good players and especially with the coaching and experience that we have, I think that can easily be done. Personally, I just want to do what I can to help the team win. I think me doing what I am suppose to do will contribute to success. My personal goals are to get better, get faster, get stronger, add on a little bit more weight, always focusing on getting better”.

What are your thoughts on Running Backs Coach Scottie Graham?

“I think Coach Graham will be great for us. When he first came in I asked coach if I could meet with him, so I got to talk with him a little bit. We didn’t even talk football, we talked about life which is something that I like about him, everything doesn’t have to be about football. I think Coach Graham is more than just our coach, he can also be a life coach, help me on and off the field, things like that are great for the team. Every player should have a coach like that”.

What are your overall thoughts on the new coaching staff Coach Fisch has put in place?

“In the locker room, the overall energy and culture is different, positive, everyone has a positive mindset and everyone is on the same page. I think that has a lot to do with the coaches putting that energy out there and all the coaches are at the work-outs supporting all the players, to see that is positive for the season ahead”.

Take me through your off season Training Regimen?

“I’m always working on it. Me and my teammates/roommates Jaxen Turner, Kyon Barrs, and Jalen Johnson, we have been working every day to stay in shape. For my regimen for gaining weight, I drink a lot of protein and making sure I get three square meals a day, always snacking on something, I try not to hinder my weight gaining”.

Do you feel like with Gary Brightwell gone, that now is your time to be the No. 1 Running Back?

“I definitely think so. I think I put in 2 years, my freshman year and last year, the experience that I have gotten from those 2 years has helped me a lot. I got a lot figured out, it’s a matter of time until the season starts”.

Wiley is currently 5-feet-11-inches and up to 202 pounds, but hopes to get to 207 by Spring Camp, and 210 by the kick-off of the 2021 season. Wiley told me that he likes to surround himself with guys that take the game of football seriously and love the game just as much as he does.

Arizona Football fans should be excited to see Michael perform in 2021, since he has unlimited potential, and he is ready to take the reins. As always, Bear Down, Arizona!

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