Reserve quarterback Kevin Doyle became the first player from Arizona – and among only a handful in the nation thus far – to officially opt out of the 2020 season because of safety concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic.
Doyle made the announcement via Twitter on Saturday.
“We are in challenging times,” said the redshirt sophomore from West Chester, Pennsylvania. “I have been watching and reading about the COVID pandemic and understand that it is new for everybody. The only thing I can do is listen to professionals and watch professionals and make decisions off of that information.
“(If) dozens of high-profile NFL players are opting out of playing football and giving up tens of millions of dollars, there must be more risk than I can even perceive. I love the University of Arizona, and I support my teammates and coaches. With that being said, yesterday I gave my official notice that I will be opting out of the upcoming football season. I am looking forward to getting past this pandemic and rejoining my teammates as quickly as possible.”
This is a really tough decision. I appreciate the support, understanding and guidance my coaches have shown me over the last few days while we work through this decision. Looking forward to getting back with my teammates as quickly as possible. #BearDown pic.twitter.com/YS3CwRBDUF— Kevin Doyle Jr (@Kevin_Doyle_13) August 1, 2020
Doyle added that it was “a really tough decision” and that he appreciated the “support, understanding and guidance” his coaches have given him.
Doyle will remain on scholarship, per athletic-department and Pac-12 policy, and it is believed that this season, whether it happens or not, won’t count against his eligibility.
Doyle’s decision is not related to the reported boycott being organized by Pac-12 players over health and safety, social justice and other issues.
Doyle was a late addition to the 2018 recruiting class. His coaches at St. John’s College High School in Washington, D.C., had a relationship with Noel Mazzone, whom Kevin Sumlin hired in late January of that year. Doyle, a onetime Michigan commit, visited Arizona and signed with the Wildcats shortly after.
The Gatorade Player of the Year in D.C. in 2017, Doyle has yet to appear in a game for the UA. After redshirting in 2018, Doyle hurt his shoulder while weightlifting last summer. That slowed his progress and prevented him from making a legitimate run at the No. 2 spot behind incumbent starter Khalil Tate.
This past spring also represented a chance for Doyle to move up the depth chart, but the Wildcats completed only four practices before being shut down by the pandemic.
Although not officially named the starter, sophomore Grant Gunnell enters training camp – should it happen – as the clear front-runner. Gunnell performed well as a freshman, compiling a 9-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio in eight games, including three starts.
The other scholarship players in the QB room are redshirt junior Rhett Rodriguez, who has one career start, and freshman Will Plummer. Walk-ons Luke Ashworth and Cameron Fietz also are listed on the online roster.