TUCSON, AZ – Former starting quarterback Jayden de Laura will be looking for his third collegiate home after spending two seasons in the desert
Jayden de Laura wants to lead the offense again. He just won't be doing it in an Arizona football uniform.
On Monday, Dec. 25, de Laura announced on X (formerly Twitter) that he will be seeking a second transfer with the amended rule to the NCAA bylaws that allows undergraduates to transfer a second time without needing to sit out a year.
2022: The rise
De Laura arrived in Tucson via the transfer portal ahead of the 2022 season and immediately assumed the starting role. In his first (and only) full season at the helm of the Wildcats' offense, he put together a top-10 quarterback season for the Arizona program.
He finished 2022 with 3,685 passing yards, which ranks third all-time in a single season. His 25 passing touchdowns rank sixth all-time in a single season for the 'Cats, too. When adding in his four rushing scores, his season ranks fourth all-time in touchdowns responsible for (29). His scrambling ability proved to be a big threat too, where he tacked on another 122 yards and had a pair of 50-yard games.
2023: The downfall
The sailing got rockier ahead of the 2023 season when a settlement involving a civil sexual assault lawsuit came to light. In a statement released by the University, it was revealed that they had been aware of the allegations since fall 2022 when he was starting (and winning) games for Arizona.
The incident involved de Laura, Wisconsin safety Kamo'i Latu, and a young woman who was attending Honolulu's St. Louis School when the two men were players. In September, it was revealed that the Hawaii judge handling de Laura's settlement had rejected the terms of the agreement. The judge cited new income information for de Laura and Latu as grounds that the players should be more financially liable instead of the aforementioned St. Louis School, which had taken the brunt of the financial penalties.
A mediation hearing was scheduled for January 2024, which is fast approaching.
In the meantime, de Laura resumed his duties as the starting signal caller for the Wildcats. He started the first five games in 2023 but injured his ankle during the game against Stanford. His performance to that point, frankly, was nothing to marvel at anyway. A lack of comfort in the pocket and a failure to set his feet resulted in unnecessary sacks, missed throws (see: overtime against Mississippi State), and interceptions. In his first meaningful snaps as quarterback, redshirt freshman Noah Fifita demonstrated poise and led the Wildcats to a win.
The next week against No. 7 and eventual College Football Playoff selection Washington, de Laura was still sidelined with the ankle injury and Fifita was thrust into his first career start. In a tall task for the young gun, he performed extremely admirably and kept the Wildcats competitive in a game they should have handily lost. De Laura still didn't return to action against No. 9 USC, and Fifita started his second straight game against a ranked team and looked even better than the week before in a thrilling 43-41 triple-overtime loss.
It became more apparent that things were changing when de Laura was still sidelined against his former school and No. 19 Washington State. Rumblings throughout Wildcat country spread about de Laura potentially returning to action against the Cougars, but no revenge game was to be seen.
De Laura never started another game for the Wildcats and has attempted just three passes since his ankle injury. His final pass in an Arizona uniform was a 51-yard touchdown bomb in garbage time against No. 22 Utah, but that was all she wrote for de Laura.
2024: A new chapter
With de Laura entering the transfer portal, Arizona football is fully on board the Fifita train. Honestly? It's for the better.
Fans like to have a quarterback they can root for. Between de Laura's off-the-field legal issues, slightly declining play, and Fifita's meteoric rise, the writing was on the wall for de Laura. He still has one year of eligibility left, and will look to find the third starting quarterback job of his undergraduate career. In the meantime, Fifita and his connection with rising star wide receiver Tetairoa McMillan will be the apple of each Arizona fan's eye.