YouTube pullman pass helped lead Canada’s Tanner McLachlan to Arizona Wildcats
How Tanner McLachlan ended up going from a Canadian player in rehab to Arizona’s most trusted tight end in less than a year is an incredible story in itself. Add the origin story of his Wildcat fandom and the story becomes even more amazing.
McLachlan, who received a scholarship the day before the season opener at San Diego State, actually grew up as an Arizona fan despite living in Lethbridge, Alta. But it wasn’t until a trip to a UA-Washington State game with his high school team in 2014 that the connection really got stronger.
“Eight years ago, Arizona versus Washington State, in Pullman, and I was a sophomore in high school,” McLachlan said. “And I remember being on the sidelines and being a big Arizona fan, seeing Arizona burn out, and I knew one day I wanted to play for Arizona. I didn’t know not how I was going to get there. I didn’t know when it was going to happen, but I knew I wanted to be here. And it’s funny how life goes, because obviously it happened and I’m very, very excited about this.
The Wildcats won that game, 59-37, taking a 31-0 lead, and would win the Pac-12 South title that season.
“I know they won, because I was the only one wearing an Arizona jersey, so I know there were people, fans who weren’t too happy about it,” said McLachlan, who developed his interest in the UA via annual family vacations. in Arizona in the winter.
He did, however, begin his college career in 2018 at Southern Utah, an FCS school in Cedar City that Arizona beat 62-31 that season (but McLachlan did not play). His breakout year came in 2021, when in the spring — most FCS schools skipped the 2020 season because of COVID — he had 12 catches for 120 yards and two touchdowns in four games.
But it was that fourth, against Idaho, where he planted badly on a course and ended up tearing his anterior cruciate ligament. The surgery took place a month later, and just as rehabilitation began, the Southern Utah coaching staff was fired.
“I was at a point in my career where I knew I needed a change,” McLachlan said. “I was between two programs and I decided to bet on myself and that’s when I decided to walk here towards Christmas. And it was the best decision I made so far.
Arizona Coach Jedd Fisch said McLachlan was a “discovery of Coach (Jordan) Paopao,” and it turns out the person who connected the two was an ex-Wildcat Paul Magloire.
“When Tanner became available, we were (asked) would you be willing to bring in a tight end coming out of ACL surgery who hasn’t played for a year but has a good movie, and that is a really good boy,” Fisch said. “And that’s kind of what was the initial conversation when it was introduced to me. And then when he arrived, it was much more than that.
McLachlan committed to Arizona just after Christmas, and once he arrived he said the coaching staff had “stepped up” his rehab. Before that, he did it on his own, with the help of YouTube videos.
“After I had surgery, I had really good help from some people in southern Utah,” he said. “But then when I was between schools, a lot of it was YouTube, a lot of it was talking to other people who went through the same process, and just kind of figuring it out for me- I would just do random videos, I would watch where I should be week after week, month after month. Sort of, just play by ear and do what I was supposed to do.
Offensive Coordinator Brennan Carroll said he knew Arizona had something special in McLachlan from the start of spring training.
“We saw some lightning in the spring. he couldn’t do much physically because he was working through rehab, but we got the idea pretty early on that the kid had special talents and character traits,” Carroll said. “And he also has a great spirit for the sport, so it comes quite naturally to him. He’s a good athlete and he wants to learn. Great teammate. Just a kid that the guys love to play for and to play with. is not really shocking.
McLachlan earned a purse before the SDSU game, in which he completed a catch for 10 yards, to huge applause from the team. He also grabbed the cornerback Treydan Stukeshimself a former extra, by surprise.
“I didn’t even know he was an extra, I thought he was like a regular,” Stuke said. “He completely deserves it, he deserved it. I was so happy for him when they announced that, because I just remember how I felt when I got my scholarship as an extra. He worked his back.
McLachlan has caught four assists each of the past two games, the first tight end for UA to do so since Bryce Wolma had three consecutive 4-catch games in 2018. His nine receptions are one shy of 10 Alex Lines had all last season, and he’s the most in tune with a Wildcat tight end since Rob Gronkowski numbered 47 in 2008.