Linebacker Brian Wagner, the Zips leading tackler, recorded 147 stops last season for the team and led the MAC. He also ranked third in the country.
Wagner, a junior last year, received his degree early from U of A, which gives him a year of eligibility left to join Rich Rodriguez with the Arizona Wildcats, according to the Arizona Daily Star.
More relevant for the Zips coach Terry Bowden, however, is that he will have a huge hole to fill in the linebacking corps. Bowden doesn't believe he could have done anything to bring Wagner back.
"I believe his mind was made up. He wanted a new experience. He wanted to see if he could be a PAC-BCS level player," Bowden said. " When it boiled down to it, if it was about his NFL future, it was more risky to do what he did. If it was about his playing time, it was definitely more risky. There’s nothing that guarantees him any of that."
Bowden, based on newspaper reports, pointed the finger at two former Zips assistants for Wagner's leaving.
"I think he was hearing things from people on the staff here about how positive the move was, where it was a little bit self-serving of those two coaches," he said. "I hope they get on down there because they haven’t hired a defensive staff yet.
"The guys making all the quotes were (linebackers coach Charlie) Camp, who was the coach at Akron who played there and wants to be on the staff there, and (Tony) Bouie, a graduate assistant here."
Bouie is also an Arizona grad.
At Arizona Wagner will work on a graduate degree in biostatistics.