247Sports writer lists Arizona Football at No. 7 in latest Big 12 season forecast

It didn't really feel like "a lot was lost" by the Wildcats once the dust all settled.
Valero Alamo Bowl - Arizona v Oklahoma
Valero Alamo Bowl - Arizona v Oklahoma / Ronald Cortes/GettyImages

In his latest Big 12 predictions for order of finish, 247Sports' Cody Nagel projected Arizona to finish at No. 7 in the conference with a record of 8-4 (6-3 in Big 12), and he highlights Noah Fifita and Tetairoa McMillan as "arguably the best quarterback-wide receiver duo in the conference".

Interestingly though, Nagel concludes his analysis with the takeaway that "a lot was lost from [the] roster". While it's fair to question whether incoming head coach Brent Brennan will translate, the latter sentiment is a fundamental misunderstanding of how Arizona has built to plan for the future.

What was actually lost from the roster?

For this, we look in two places: the NCAA transfer portal and the NFL draft. The biggest losses to the NFL were Jordan Morgan, Jacob Cowing, Tanner McLachlan, and Michael Wiley. However, it was common knowledge that all four of these players had expiring eligibility, and there are plans in place to fill those vacancies.

In the transfer portal, there were only two departures that felt like serious losses: Jonah Coleman following Jedd Fisch to Washington and Bill Norton following Johnny Nansen to Texas. Though the interior defensive line is gambling on a high-upside Division II transfer, Arizona solidified the running back room with two backs who have close ties to the new coaching staff.

The majority of Arizona's losses outside of these six, though, will prove to be largely inconsequential.

So, how is all of that production being replaced?

When only considering the losses, things may not feel great. Think about who will be returning though: four of five starting offensive linemen, the former Alabama left tackle recruit, both star linebackers, the future first-round pick cornerback, the Alamo Bowl Defensive MVP-winning safety tandem, and — of course — Fifita and McMillan.

Jacory Croskey-Merritt and Quali Conley each logged over 1,100 yards from scrimmage last year and will take up the mantle as running backs 1a and 1b, while the nose tackle spot will be held by the 347-pound Chubba Ma'ae who transferred in from UC Davis. At tight end, Keyan Burnett will return to catch passes from Fifita for the first time since high school, and incoming veteran San Jose State transfer Sam Olson will also contend for reps.

Have there been some notable departures? Sure. Does that mean each of those spots is now a hole in the roster? Certainly not, and Arizona is well-positioned to surpass 8 wins to break the projected tie with UCF and West Virginia by beating them during the season.

Tetairoa McMillan leads Top 5 Big 12 wide receivers. dark. ICYMI. B12WRs

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