Alsadek is 6-foot-7-inch, 320-pound offensive lineman from San Diego. Alsadek enters his fifth season as one of the most experienced players on Arizona’s roster, having started 33 games since debuting as a redshirt freshman in 2014. Depth is still a concern on the offensive line, but the Wildcats have one of the most experienced starting groups in the country — 2016 starters Nathan Eldridge, Layth Friekh and Gerhard de Beer all return as well — which bodes well for Arizona’s offense. Out of high school, Alsadek picked the Wildcats over Colorado and after redshirting the 2013 season, helped block for a productive rushing attack in 2014 that saw Nick Wilson rush for 1,375 yards.
“They take pictures of us every year with our shirts off, which is kinda weird, but when I first got here I was ugly, gross,” Alsadek said. Then it was “a little bit better, and a little better. How your body changes is insane. Right now I’m probably 318-320 and I’m moving like I was when I was 287.”
The numbers: There aren’t many statistics readily available when it comes to offensive linemen, and the best stats are more of a collective sort — as in how many sacks a team allows and how many rushing yards it gains, two areas where offensive linemen play a particularly important part. In that regard, even as win totals have decreased, Arizona has gotten better each season of Alsadek’s career in those categories. In rushing, the Wildcats averaged 181.9 yards per game in 2014, 222 in 2015 and a conference-best 235 per game last season. With sacks allowed, the Wildcats gave up a conference-worst 40 in 2014, 31 in 2015 and 28 last year.
The value: On an offensive line lacking depth — though not quite at the level of last season after young reserves like Christian Boettcher and Cody Creason received significant playing time — Alsadek’s experience and durability become particularly important. Alsadek starts at right guard, a particularly important position for Arizona’s rushing attack. Alsadek has been working with UA alum Glenn Parker four to five times per week this summer.
“I love it. It’s just changed the way I pass block, it’s awesome,” Alsadek said. “In the spring with one on ones, I think I only lost one or two reps all spring, which was cool, which is definitely better than I’ve ever done before.”
Why Alsadek? Alsadek is Arizona’s most experienced offensive lineman, and so he’ll be expected to step up in 2017. Alsadek has blocked some of the most-talented pass rushers in the country — including first-round picks like USC’s Leonard Williams, Washington’s Danny Shelton and Stanford’s Solomon Thomas — which should bode well for Alsadek this season.
“You see these people on TV now playing on Sundays and it’s a cool feeling,” Alsadek said. “It’s like, I battled with that guy.”
Proof he’s good: Alsadek was named a freshman All-American after the 2014 season, though he hasn’t received any similar honors since. Physically, he looks the part of a future NFL offensive lineman. The best evidence of what Arizona’s offensive line — and Alsadek — is capable of when things are clicking occurred in last season’s Territorial Cup against ASU. Then, the Wildcats didn’t throw a single pass in the second half because of the record-breaking rushing attack — a school-record 511 yards and seven touchdowns.
What Alsadek can accomplish: If Alsadek keeps progressing, he can play himself onto a Pac-12 All-Conference team — Athlon Sports had him as a preseason third team selection — and improve his stock as an NFL prospect. NFLDraftScout.com currently has him rated the No. 23 offensive guard in the 2018 draft class.
Coachspeak: “Jacob made himself a player coming out of high school just because of his work ethic. He’s a guy who would train above and beyond. I think that’s what he’s done. He’s learned our system. He’s a smart guy. But football is so important to him.” — UA coach Rich Rodriguez in 2014
He said it: “I just want to have no regrets this season, so hopefully it will work out. … It’s just like every year, elevating your game to another level.
“Being my last year, I’m trying to get that chance to play as long as I can, trying to make a name for myself more than I have.” — Alsadek
Story By Zack Rosenblatt
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