Freshman was shot twice in the chest

10/12/2004 - Arizona Wildcats

TUCSON, Ariz. -- A freshman football player at the University of Arizona remained in critical condition, but was improving, on Monday after being shot at an off-campus party.

Sheldon Watts, 18, an offensive lineman from Hightower High School in Fort Bend County, Texas, was shot twice in the chest about 2 a.m. Sunday after an argument among partygoers led to gunfire, Tucson police said.

"Sheldon is doing better," Arizona coach Mike Stoops said Monday. "He seems to be progressing well. Our thoughts and prayers are with Sheldon. It has been an unbelievably tough situation."

Watts is sitting out the season as a redshirt, so he did not accompany the Wildcats to their game Saturday at UCLA. Tucson police said there is no indication that Watts or three other redshirt football players at the party were part of the argument that led to the shooting.

Police said the argument began inside the house and then spread outside, where the gunfire occurred. No arrests have been made, Tucson police said.

"The most important thing we are concerned about is the health of Sheldon Watts," athletic director Jim Livengood said. "We take this very seriously. As we move forward, we will cooperate in every way with the police investigation."

Watts was one of 20 high school players in Stoops' first recruiting class and one of seven from the Houston area. One of the Texans, 18-year-old McCollins Umeh, who collapsed and died of an enlarged heart earlier this year during a voluntary conditioning

"Unfortunately, we have had a number of occasions to go through, situations that are difficult on a team, coaches and hard on our staff," Livengood said.