Arizona safety Gunner Maldonado got ink this year — and we’re not talking about signing his national letter-of-intent as a transfer from Northwestern.
The Chandler native covered his left arm with tattoos this offseason. In addition to an image of Jesus on the cross and his mother’s initials, Maldonado has two other notable tats: a portrait of Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash and famed UFC fighter Conor McGregor.
“I play guitar, and he’s one of the first guitar players where I was like, ‘That dude is crazy at guitar,’” Maldonado said of Slash as he and the Wildcats prepared for Saturday night’s game vs. NAU at Arizona Stadium, which was still being played when the Star went to press. “He’s my favorite guitar player.”
Maldonado’s tattoo of McGregor on his inner forearm is a two-parter: the top features an image of the Irish fighter roaring, with the bottom has McGregor praying after a fight.
“I love when he fights, but I love how he is outside of the ring. They call him Mystic Mac for how he speaks things into existence,” Maldonado said. “He’s confident, but he’s humble in defeat. That’s what this tattoo means: He’s fierce, but humble in defeat. My tattoo artist made it look nice.”
Maldonado isn’t as boisterous as the former featherweight world champion, but he tries to emulate McGregor’s fortitude.
“I don’t think I’m as vocal as Conor McGregor is,” said Maldonado, ”and I don’t think I ever will be like that, but I definitely want to play with that confidence he has when he’s fighting in the ring.”
Maldonado plays the electric guitar, though his football schedule prevents him from practicing as much as he’d like to.
“It’s hard to play it every day, especially in college football, but I’ve been playing on and off since the eighth grade,” he said.
Third future Wildcat added to Polynesian Bowl roster
Arizona commit Jonah Savaiinaea pledged to play in the upcoming Polynesian Bowl, a high school football all-star showcase in Hawaii. Savaiinaea, a 6-foot-3, 330-pound offensive lineman, is a senior at St. Louis School in Honolulu. He is the third future Wildcat to play in the Polynesian Bowl, joining quarterback Noah Fifita and cornerback Zeke Berry.
Two Arizona commits play in high school thriller
Chandler Hamilton appeared to be on its way to a loss to seventh-ranked Bishop Gorman, a national powerhouse from Las Vegas.
Bishop Gorman led 24-7 with 1:09 left to play in Friday night’s national televised showdown when when the Huskies rallied back. Hamilton connected on a field goal and two touchdowns, recovered two onside kicks and converted a two-point conversion to win 25-24. Hamilton quarterback Nicco Marchiol, a West Virginia commit, ran in the game-winning 2-point conversion.
Hamilton has two Arizona commits on its roster: Offensive lineman Grayson Stovall and defensive end Russell “Deuce” Davis II, who finished the night with seven tackles.
Hamilton is 3-0.
Remember when? (Probably not)
Arizona entered Saturday night’s game with a 15-1 all-time record against NAU, the Wildcats’ in-state rival.
That one loss? The Lumberjacks took down the Wildcats 7-6 during the 1932 season.
The Star wrote that “the Northern Arizona State Teachers college Lumberjacks upset the dopesters tonight to defeat a heavily favorite University of Arizona eleven 7 to 6. Two aerial thrusts, the only successful ones by the northerners, paved the way for their winning touchdown. Another pass resulted in the extra point.”
The win impressed NAU professor English professor Mary Hill so much that she erected a 25-pound copper ax to commemorate the win. The ax remains cased at the Cline Library on NAU’s campus in Flagstaff.
Arizona finished 4-5 in 1933 under coach A.W. Farwick.
Pac-12 commish impresses
New Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff made a strong impression during Thursday’s “listening tour” stop in Tucson.
Count UA athletic director Dave Heeke as a fan.
“We got new leadership in our conference, new vision, new approach,” Heeke told the Star’s Justin Spears on ESPN Tucson’s “Spears & Ali.”
“George is an outstanding individual and a very good person to be around. It was important for him to be on campus, to hear from our coaches, to hear from our staff, to hear from our student-athletes. He visited campus administration and really got a feel for what the University of Arizona is all about. Because really, you’re all about 12 institutions, the activities, the energy, the culture on the campus. … George’s leadership is going to be positive, and I think the future of our conference — we’re positioned really well. … Leadership in your conference is incredibly important to pull everything together.”