The Arizona Wildcats are quickly building a formidable recruiting class for 2011.
Fittingly, their latest addition is an engineering buff.
Jared Baker, a star tailback from Los Angeles Loyola High School, verbally committed to the UA on Tuesday.
Baker, who carries a 3.7 GPA, chose Arizona in part because of academics; he wants to become a structural engineer.
"I picked Arizona because it seemed like they wanted me the most and I'll fit into their system better," he said. "They also have the best engineering program."
The Rivals.com recruiting service lists Baker as a three-star recruit and the nation's 45th-best running back.
Baker rushed for 1,453 yards and 10 touchdowns as a junior at Loyola; his 145.3 yards per game and 6.92 yards per carry were both tops on the team. Baker's verbal vow was Arizona's fifth in the last week.
Salpointe Catholic offensive lineman Jacob Arzouman kicked things off with a commitment on June 8. Since then, the UA has added Bakersfield, Calif., linebacker Hank Hobson, Dallas safety Kerry Swarn and Canyon del Oro star tailback Ka'Deem Carey.
The 5-foot-9-inch, 188-pound Baker chose the UA over offers from Cal Poly, Connecticut, Idaho and Oregon State. Cal and UCLA were also reportedly interested.
No school could match UA's athletic and academic opportunities for Baker.
"We said, 'At the end of the day, if Arizona's where you want to go, why wait?' " said Baker's father, Ted. "Why wait to get better offers as a vanity exercise? Arizona seems like a perfect fit."
Freshmen on board
Twenty of Arizona's 21 incoming freshmen began their college careers last week when the first summer session started.
The lone holdout, wide receiver Dexter Ransom, should arrive in time for the second summer session, recruiting director Dave Emerick said.
NCAA rules allow incoming freshmen to enroll in the summer with full scholarship benefits. Emerick said the head start is "huge."
"This way, they get to experience a little bit of college life," he said. "The transition is so much easier when they get to be here for a few months before the start of the season."
Who could play?
Wondering which newcomers might contribute this fall?
Look at the junior college transfers.
Defensive tackle Willie Mobley and defensive ends Mohammed Usman and Dan Pettinato should fight for playing time in camp.
"That's why you bring them in. Their time is limited," Emerick said. "But coach (Mike) Stoops said he's going to play the best players. The young kids, if they're better than the older players, are going to play."
Safety Marquis Flowers is one freshman who could compete for playing time, Emerick said.