Bubba Arslanian went through it all with the Akron Zips.
He was redshirted in 2017 as a true freshman, watching from the sidelines as a hopeful prospect as Akron competed in the MAC Championship Game. He then witnessed the Zips at their lowest as the only FBS squad to post an 0-12 record in 2019. He watched a 21-game losing skid erase while he participated in a makeshift 2020 COVID-altered campaign. And lastly, he wound up in the Joe Moorhead era, marking his third different head coach of an eventful Akron tenure.
Despite having the eligibility to return for his seventh season, Arslanian announced Wednesday afternoon that he would forego the opportunity and leave Akron to focus on a future professional football career.
Arslanian attained First Team All-MAC honors for the first time in 2022, totaling a career-high 132 tackles in a stellar season. Additionally, the star linebacker pitched in 10.5 tackles for loss in addition to his first career interception.
While Arslanian’s 2022 was his magnum opus, it was by no means a one-hit wonder. He racked up 125 tackles in his first season as a starter in 2019 and led the entire MAC in solo tackles during the pandemic-shortened 2020. It was the 2020 season when he received his first selection to the All-MAC team, qualifying for Second Team honors. He was on track for all-conference designation again in 2021, averaging over 10 tackles per game through four outings, but a season-ending injury suffered in Week 4 halted his progress. Still, he overcame the obstacle and pieced together a sensational 2022 to cap off his time at Akron.
Overall, Arslanian tallied 385 tackles, 22 tackles for loss, 6.0 sacks, and two forced fumbles as one of the greatest Zips of the past decade — playing under head coaches Terry Bowden, Tom Arth, and Joe Moorhead. The team captain and well-seasoned linebacker departs from Akron as a two-time top 10 finisher in the FBS in total tackles.
Akron will be tasked with replacing significant production at linebacker. Along with Arslanian, the Zips must fill vacancies created by the transfer of Jeslord Boateng (Akron’s 2021 tackles leader) and the graduation of senior Tim Terry Jr. Without luring incoming transfers at the position this offseason, Akron looks set to build around inside linebacker Andrew Behm and rather-inexperienced incumbent depth.
According to his announcement Wednesday, Arslanian will begin preparation for a professional football opportunity this fall — and likely submit his name for the 2024 NFL Draft. He aims to become the first Zip drafted since fellow linebacker Jatavis Brown landed to the San Diego Chargers in the fifth round of the 2017 draft.