While the University of Arizona will probably always be identified as a basketball school, there is some Wildcats representation in the 2017 NFL Postseason. Here are some names to look out for:
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Nov 27, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) leaves the game for during the first against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
A man who needs no introduction, Gronk will unfortunately have to sit out this postseason in the NFL PLayoffs after sustaining a chest injury earlier this season.
Easily the most recognizable Wildcat in the NFL, Gronk will be absent from the New England’s postseason roster as the Patriots will have to play well without their best offensive threat if they want to win the coveted Lombardi Trophy in Super Bowl LI.
Here are a few other former Wildcats who actually see the field and will similarly work for that same goal on their own teams.
Nov 24, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers strong safety Robert Golden (21) against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Steelers won 28-7. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
The 5th year pro is currently labeled as ‘questionable’ on the Pittsburgh Steeler’s injury report.
Golden joined the Steelers an an undrafted free agent after graduating from Arizona in 2012. In 2014, he was named a Steelers co-captain on special teams and has found a home in the Pittsburgh secondary since.
This season, he started in seven games for the Steelers while registering 34 tackles. After sustaining an ankle injury, he hasn’t played for Pittsburgh since week 14, however, if he does suit up, keep an eye out for this playmaker in the Steel Curtain’s secondary.
Aug 14, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; New York Giants defensive back Trevin Wade (31) against the Cincinnati Bengals in a preseason NFL football game at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals won 23-10. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Wade played four seasons for the Wildcats as one of the most prolific corners in Arizona history, starting 35 of 50 games and racking up 180 tackles, 12 interceptions and two touchdowns.
Unlike Golden, Wade was drafted in the 2012 draft in the 7th round to the Cleveland Browns who would later release him.
Wade has since found a nice role in the Giants secondary, registering 26 tackles and three passes defended this season. The Giants will need him to contribute as they hope to limit the Green Bay passing attack.
Nov 29, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) dives for a first down while Miami Dolphins defensive tackle Earl Mitchell (90) makes a tackle attempt during the first half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
Another player on the defensive side of the ball, the 7th year pro has started in five games for the Dolphins this season. As some of you may recall, Mitchell did see time at running back during his first two seasons at Arizona. His athleticism and footwork have remained with him as he bulked up to become one of Arizona’s better defensive linemen in recent memory.
Originally drafted by the Houston Texans in the 3rd round of the 2010 NFL Draft, Mitchell left for the Dolphins after signing a 4-year, $16 million deal in 2014.
While he hasn’t had his best season in the NFL this year due to a calf injury he sustained earlier in the season, he should provide a veteran presence on the defensive line of Dolphins team that will make their first playoff appearance since 2008 when they travel to Pittsburgh on Sunday.
Oct 23, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons defensive end Brooks Reed (50) in action against the San Diego Chargers in the first quarter at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
We’ll have to wait to see Brooks Reed harass quarterbacks as his Atlanta Falcons have a first-round BYE. Reed was also originally drafted to the Houston Texans in the 2nd round of the 2011 NFL Draft before signing with Atlanta.
The Tucson native has continued to pressure passers after his time in a Wildcats uniform as he has totaled 16.5 sacks as a pass rush specialist in the NFL. Reed started in seven games for the Falcons this season while playing in 15, notching 25 tackles, 2 sacks and a forced fumble.
Atlanta will look to outscore opponents this postseason with their potent offense, but make sure to check out the flowing blonde hair on their defense.
Nov 6, 2016; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Nick Foles (4) looks to pass against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the second half at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs won 19-14. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
The most prolific passer in Arizona history will make his second trip to the postseason in his four-year NFL career. Unfortunately for Foles, this time will come on the bench.
In an up-and-down NFL career, Foles was once the highest rated passer in the league before being relegated to the bench behind Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith. Smith, however, isn’t the best quarterback in the postseason, nor the most durable.
This season, Foles saw the field twice, starting one game, as a backup to an injured Smith. Foles impressed as he tossed three touchdowns and totaled 410 passing yards in limited action, so if the second-seeded Chiefs need to rely on their backup this postseason, we know they’ll be in capable hands.