On the field: A survivor. Took seven courses as a high school senior, including freshman and sophomore classes that he had previously failed, and improved his SATs and his grade average so much that he qualified to play as a freshman (although he red-shirted). "Arizona took a chance on me," says Harris. "I didn't want to let them down." He is on schedule to earn a degree in sociology as early as December. At 6'3", 235 pounds, Harris has defensive responsibilities that range from taking on offensive tackles to covering wideouts. Early in the Fiesta Bowl, Miami isolated 5'9", 165-pound sprinter Jonathan Harris on Harris, who shadowed him on a streak up the right sideline. The Hurricanes did not run the play again.
•Bruschi, junior defensive end.
On paper: Too short (6'1") pass-rush specialist from Roseville, Calif., outside Sacramento. Recruited seriously only by Washington State, Brigham Young and Arizona.
On the field: Relentless? How relentless? Last year he crawled five yards on his knees to sack USC quarterback Rob Johnson. In his first full-contact practice, as a true freshman in 1991, his tireless work moved Tomey to stop practice. "A freshman, Tedy Bruschi, is outworking all of you," Tomey said that August morning. Bruschi was team MVP and Fiesta Bowl defensive MVP on last season's squad, which included nosetackle Rob Waldrop, the Outland Trophy winner. He is a sight to behold on the Arizona campus, puttering about at a top speed of 33 miles per hour, long black hair trailing behind him, on a Honda 150 motor scooter better suited to a man weighing half his 255 pounds. He shares an off-campus apartment with Smith and linebacker Charlie Camp and amuses both of them with his fear of bugs. "Here's Tedy, one of the fiercest guys in college football," says Smith, "and he freaks out if a moth lands on him. Moths, spiders, anything." To which Bruschi adds: "Especially cockroaches."
•Brandon Sanders, junior strong safety.
On paper: Too short (5'10"), too light (150) defensive back from Helix High in San Diego, the alma mater of previous Arizona defensive backs Chuck Cecil, Allan Durden and Jeff Hammerschmidt. Recruited only by Colorado State and Arizona.
On the field: Grown to a compact 175 pounds, Sanders hits like Cecil and talks trash like Reggie Miller. Knocked out two Illinois players in one game last year. "Brandon, he takes on guards, tackles, fullbacks, and he hits harder than anybody, pound for pound," says senior free safety Tony Bouie, himself a potential All-America. Sanders is also the spiritual leader of the defense; he got votes for captain as a freshman.
Even some of the mainstream recruits have stories to tell. Smith (a.k.a. Chewbacca or the Big Red Creature), a drive-blocking specialist who was recruited by Georgia, Wisconsin, UCLA and Arizona State, grew up in San Manuel, Ariz., a copper-mining town in the mountains northeast of Tucson. "Everyone works in the mines," says Smith, whose father is vice president of a mining company. "I took a tour once, and they told us, 'There's 100 feet of dirt over your head.' I never wanted to work in those mines, that was the motivating factor to lift weights in San Manuel."
Or consider Hicham El-Mashtoub, a 295-pound senior center who was born in Beirut and raised in Montreal. Arizona snatched him from Michigan recruiters when Tomey found out that El-Mashtoub was eligible to graduate from high school in December of his senior year and had him enrolled at Arizona in January. What they got was a multilingual engineering major with surpassing football skills and a perilously short fuse. He took a crucial fourth-quarter personal foul when he came off the bench and decked a tackier on the sideline after Wildcat freshman Gary Taylor had returned a kickoff to the 31 in last year's 24-20 loss at California, a defeat that cost Arizona a spot in the Rose Bowl. One year earlier El-Mashtoub was held out of the Hancock Bowl for fighting with a teammate in the locker room after a practice.
"When he's in control, I don't think there's a better center in college football," says Smith. "But I've wasted an awful lot of valuable rest time between plays getting Hicham out of fights." Offensive tackle Joe Smigiel says, "He means well, and he's very bright, but he really does have a screw loose."