On the football field, Rich Rodriguez leads in a fast and furious way.
His team’s practices are filled with loud music and just minimal breaks. Games are played at a frantic pace.
Similar traits can be found in the UA coach’s recruiting style.
“The aggression in which (Rodriguez) and his staff recruit really stand out to me,” said Scout.com recruiting service national analyst Brandon Huffman. “They don’t sit back and wait for guys to commit. They go all over the country to find the guys they want, lock in on them and then go after them hard.”
Rodriguez’s assertive style seems to be paying off. The UA enters the final weekend before national signing day with verbal commitments from 28 players, including six junior college players and one early high school graduate already on campus. The UA received 23 commitments before the 2013 season even began.
Arizona’s recruits will sign national letters of intent Wednesday.
“For Arizona to be basically finished so early and have guys locked in by the start of their senior year and then have almost all of them stay committed is
really impressive,” said Rivals.com West Coast recruiting analyst Adam Gorney. “It’s a huge relief in the fall and in this period now not to have to go out and recruit 10-15 guys. It’s not a prolonged process of getting guys in and then getting them committed.”
Arizona’s get-’em-early-and-keep-’em-late style has produced solid results. While there’s sure to be some movement before Wednesday, the UA’s class is currently ranked 17th in the country by Scout and second in the Pac-12.
Rivals has the UA’s class ranked 25th nationally and fourth in the conference.
“I love this class,” Huffman said. “They did a really nice job in California and in their own state. They took care of their backyard and then took advantage of the fertile ground next door.”
Added Gorney: “They did a tremendous job in California, and it’s more competitive there than it’s been in a long time.”
Here’s a look at the UA’s class of commits:
Rodriguez has covered his bases at the skill positions, landing two quarterbacks, two running backs and five wide receivers.
The first two players to commit for 2014 — Salpointe Catholic High School receiver Cameron Denson and Fresno, Calif., running back Nick Wilson — are the headliners.
Scout ranks Denson as the 14th-best receiver in the country, and the local star landed offers from more than 10 schools. Wilson, who has Ka’Deem Carey-type size — he’s 5 feet 11 inches and 195 pounds — also had double-digit offers and is rated as a four-star recruit by both Scout and Rivals.
Denson came on board more than a year ago, and Wilson committed in mid-March.
“I thought Arizona really started strong getting those two guys early,” Gorney said. “Denson is a big-time playmaker and Nick Wilson has been courted by a lot of different schools. They made a statement early getting those two guys and then keeping them when other schools came calling.”
Denson, a two-way player at Salpointe, could also play in the UA’s secondary.
Rodriguez received commitments from two quarterbacks: California high school product Brandon Dawkins and Jerrard Randall out of Northeast Mississippi Junior College. Randall is already on campus and will be with the Wildcats for spring drills. Dawkins will sign Wednesday.
The UA added some much-needed beef, headlined by Jordan Poland. The 6-8, 335-pound offensive tackle flipped from USC to Arizona earlier this month.
“He’s definitely a standout,” Gorney said.
Rodriguez has said that the Wildcats need to get bigger on defense. This year’s crop seems to address that.
The star attractions are a pair of high school teammates in Jamardre Cobb
(6-2, 215) and Marquis Ware (6-2, 210). Cobb has a chance to take over for Jake Fischer at middle linebacker right away. Ware played linebacker and defensive end at Salesian High School in Los Angeles; expect the Wildcats to experiment with him before deciding on a position.
“The most noticeable thing with both of them is that their best football is still ahead of them,” Huffman said. “Ware, you can see the ability, and now he just has to learn his position. Cobb, he’s ready to play now. He can get to Tucson and play as a true freshman for sure.”
The Wildcats must wait until Wednesday to see where they stand with defensive lineman Marcus Griffin. The Bellevue, Wash., product has narrowed his school choices to Arizona, Cal, Washington State and Mississippi State. He could partner nicely with junior college transfer Jeff Worthy, who, like Randall, is already on campus.
Worthy (6-3, 290) began his career at Boise State before playing at Santa Ana (Calif.) Junior College last season.
“He’s ready to contribute right way,” Huffman said of Worthy.
The UA is hoping to hold on to four-star cornerback Naijiel Hale, who committed to the Wildcats in July but is expected to take an official visit to Washington this weekend.
The Wildcats have already lost one high-profile cornerback this recruiting season.
Five-star prospect Jalen Tabor committed to Arizona the same day as Poland but decommitted seven days later.
The class still includes three other corners (Rodney Carr, Kwesi Mashack and Patrick Glover) and a pair of safeties, Devon Brewer and J.R. Hunt.
|Year||Scout.com (average, of 5)||Rivals.com (average, of 5)|
|2014||17th (3.07)||25th (3.00)|
|2013||27th (2.88)||37th (2.88)|
|2012||46th (2.71)||46th (2.88)|
|2011||70th (2.45)||56th (2.81)|
|2010||39th (2.74)||37th (3.04)|
|2009||47th (2.67)||45th (2.96)|
|2008||39th (2.95)||39th (2.96)|
|2007||49th (3.06)||44th (2.72)|
|2006||19th (3.33)||18th (3.28)|
|2005||15th (3.38)||21st (3.17)|
|2004||64th (2.09)||49th (2.38)|
|2003||40th (2.57)||33rd (2.77)|
|2002||34th (2.17)||25th (2.76)|