With a simple signature, the Arizona Wildcats' Big Secret revealed himself Wednesday on national letter-of-intent day.
Defensive tackle Jonathan Hollins signed a scholarship offer to attend the UA, bringing an unexpected, and exciting, end to a recruiting season that went as smoothly as any on record.
Hollins, 21, is considered a major catch for a UA program looking to build on last season's 8-5 finish and Las Vegas Bowl victory. The 6-foot-3-inch, 295-pound sophomore at College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita, Calif., originally signed a letter of intent with the University of Tennessee in December. His letter was voided a month later, when Hollins was unable to qualify academically.
Hollins' academic struggles essentially made him a free agent, eligible to sign with whatever program he wanted.
The result was a recruiting free- for-all. College of the Canyons coach Garett Tujague said Hollins was besieged by offers in the weeks leading up to signing day. It got so bad that Hollins relocated to a small town in his home state of Louisiana for a few weeks, just to avoid the harassment.
In the end, Arizona won out.
"Jonathan Hollins was a guy we couldn't, obviously, resist," UA coach Mike Stoops said. "We were on and off him all year. He had an interest in UA and vice versa all season. He came here a couple weeks ago and really enjoyed it."
Stoops had reason to celebrate Wednesday, the first day players could sign binding letters of intent. Within a span of a few hours, he secured 24 commitments from an array of players — including two local stars, a mobile quarterback, a sure-handed receiver and a defensive tackle who was on everybody's radar.
Palo Verde's Adam Hall and Ironwood Ridge's Jake Fischer both began their days by signing letters of intent at their high schools. Both are expected to be critical pieces of a changing Wildcats defense.
Hall, a Parade All-American, will begin his college career at safety but could also see time at wide receiver or even running back. Hall said the recruiting process wore on him, but was happy with his decision.
"Now, it's time to play football and go to school," he said.
Fischer, a bruiser in the mold of former UA star Spencer Larsen, will bring added depth at linebacker.
Stoops called the addition of both players "great for our community," and a sign the Wildcats are making progress when it comes to in-state recruiting.
"People follow these guys in high school. To have them stay home and have great success, it's important," he said. "It helps our fan base so people can identify with these guys throughout their careers."
A pair of Texans, Richard Morrison and Dewayne Peace, bring some skill-position flash to a recruiting class heavy on offensive and defensive linemen.
Morrison threw for nearly 2,500 yards and rushed for nearly 600 yards as a senior at Royse City (Texas) High School, earning national accolades.
Peace, a wide receiver, verbally committed to the Wildcats last week following a public split with the University of Michigan. He caught 52 passes for 687 yards and eight touchdowns as a senior at South Grand Prairie (Texas) High School.
In terms of impact, Hollins could have them all beat. Playing defensive end and defensive tackle, Hollins registered 44 tackles and 4 1/2 sacks last fall.
Hollins delivered a "silent commitment" to the UA two weeks ago, giving his word to Wildcats coaches without going public. The recruit informed other schools on Monday that he was coming to Tucson.
The result was, Stoops said, "kind of an uneventful day" on Wednesday.
For a change.
"I don't have to attack anybody. I'm not getting attacked. I'm not under siege," he said. "I guess winning cures all ills — even with me. I'm pleased that these kids are believing in me and our program."
Arizona's 2009 recruiting class
Pos. Name Ht Wt Hometown (last school)
OL Jake Baratz 6-5 275 Naperville, Ill. (North HS) Led team to 20-2 mark in his final two high school seasons
TE Jack Baucus 6-6 250 Mundelein, Ill. (Carmel Catholic HS) Knee injury will slow his progress, though many compare him to UA TE Rob Gronkowski
DB Marcus Benjamin 6-0 180 New Iberia, Ill. (Arizona Western CC) Verbally committed to LSU out of high school, but could not qualify
RB Kylan Butler 5-8 180 Concord, Calif. (De La Salle HS) Rushed for 1,286 yards and 15 touchdowns at NorCal powerhouse
WR Travis Cobb 6-0 180 Brenham, Texas (Blinn College) Outside receiver could be Mike Thomas' heir apparent
LB Trevor Erno 6-1 230 Lakewood, Calif. (Lakewood HS) Turned down a flurry of last-second offers to sign with the UA
LB Jake Fischer 5-11 220 Tucson (Ironwood Ridge HS) Member of Star's All-Southern Arizona team in 2007 and 2008
LB Cordarius Golston 6-1 200 Lancaster, Texas (Lancaster HS) Posted 100 tackles and five sacks as a senior
S Adam Hall 6-4 205 Tucson (Palo Verde HS) Parade All-American turned down Cal, Oregon, USC, Alabama and others
DT Jonathan Hollins 6-3 295 Baton Rouge, La. (Coll. of the Canyons) One-time Tennessee commit was signing-day surprise
RB Daniel Jenkins 5-9 187 Moreno Valley, Calif. (Rancho Verde HS) Attended same high school as UA DL D'Aundre Reed
OL Jack Julsing 6-7 300 Palm Desert, Calif. (College of the Desert) Will compete for starting tackle job after Eben Britton's departure
LB Terrence Miller 6-4 220 Moreno Valley, Calif. (Rancho Verde HS) Played WR in high school but has the body to play tight end
DB Ryan Milus 5-10 160 Chandler (Hamilton HS) Jason Terry's cousin had three INTs as a senior
QB Richard Morrison 6-0 180 Royse City, Texas (Royse City HS) Dual-threat star will start his career under center
LB C.J. Parish 6-2 235 Brenham, Texas (Blinn College) Follows former Blinn star Sterling Lewis to UA
WR Dewayne Peace 5-11 180 Grand Prairie, Texas (So. Grand Prairie HS) Turned down Michigan for shot to play right away
DE Jackson Powell 6-5 230 Newbury Park, Calif. (Newbury Park HS) First-team defenders from talent-rich Los Angeles area
OL Chris Putton 6-4 275 Glendale (Cactus HS) Played tackle and threw discus at Cactus
ATH Derrick Rainey 6-1 180 Houston (Northbrook HS) Could play WR, RB or safety in college
DT Sione Tuihalamaka 6-2 275 Gardena, Calif. (Serra HS) Had 13 sacks as a senior, tops among UA recruits
DE Taimi Tutogi 6-1 260 Chula Vista, Calif. (Chula Vista HS) Versatile bruiser can also play H-Back
DE Justin Washington 6-2 275 Cypress, Texas (Cypress Woods HS) Bottom-heavy rusher looks like a player
OL Shane Zink 6-6 290 Redding, Calif. (Shasta College) Enrolls after just one semester of JC ball
NOTE: Benjamin, Julsing and Zink enrolled in classes last month as mid-year transfers