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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Breaking down ‘Zona’s ’07 recruits

    The Arizona football team, coming off consecutive national top-20 recruiting classes, has secured nine verbal commitments for the class of 2007 as of yesterday.

    Verbal commitments are non-binding until athletes sign national letters of intent Feb. 1.

    What follows is an introduction to each of Arizona’s committed athletes, grouped by expected impact, with commentary from Josh Gershon, senior writer for, a recruiting Web site on the Rivals network.

    Immediate impact

    William Tukuafu – defensive end

    6-foot-5, 275 pounds

    Salt Lake City

    Rivals rating (on a five-star scale): three stars

    Skinny: Played on the strong side opposite UA defensive end Louis Holmes at Scottsdale Community College in 2005. Signed with Brigham Young out of high school but instead went on a two-year mission in Jamaica.

    Could become: a starter by fall

    Gershon’s take: “”He’s seen as a guy who can make an immediate impact right way. There’s no physical maturing that needs to happen with him. He’s as physically complete as he’s going to be. …Out of all the guys who are committed, by far he has the best chance of starting right away.””

    Joseph Reese – running back

    6-foot-2, 190 pounds

    Pflugerville, Texas

    Rivals rating (on a five-star scale): three stars

    Skinny: Recruited by many Big 12 Conference schools and initially accepted a scholarship to attend Texas A&M. Committed to Arizona after hearing pitches from other schools, partly because brother Terrell is a freshman wide receiver for the Wildcats.

    Could become: a starter by second year

    Gershon’s take: “”He’s seen as a guy that he needs to throw on some more weight for the running back position, but in terms of talent and looking at Arizona’ s lack of depth at the position, he is a guy you could potentially see getting playing time at the position (this fall).””

    Alex Zendejas – placekicker

    6-foot-1, 170 pounds


    Rivals rating (on a five-star scale): three stars

    Skinny: Strong-legged athlete and one of the top kicking prospects in the state of Arizona. Numerous uncles and father kicked on college and professional levels, including uncle Max Zendejas, who holds a bounty of UA all-time kicking records.

    Could become: a starter by fall

    Gershon’s take: “”He kicked a 59-yarder in high school – that says it all. He comes from arguably the best family of kickers in football history.””

    Wait and see

    Bryson Beirne – quarterback

    6-foot-3, 215 pounds


    Rivals rating (on a five-star scale): three stars

    Skinny: Ranked 12th among pro-style quarterbacks in 2007 class. Tore anterior cruciate ligament in left knee near end of successful junior season and struggled statistically the following year in part because of an inexperienced supporting cast.

    Could become: candidate for starting job in second year

    Gershon’s take: “”You look at his attributes, and he still has a lot of potential. He has the tools to be a successful quarterback, and I think we learned (with Arizona) this year that you need a lot of depth at the quarterback position. He should be able to produce that early on.””

    Nicolas Grigsby – running back/defensive back

    5-foot-10, 178 pounds

    Santa Fe Springs, Calif.

    Rivals rating (on a five-star scale): three stars

    Skinny: Ran a 4.6-second 40-yard dash at Nike Training Camp in Los Angeles April 15 but is said to have potential 4.4 speed. Visited UA campus for Wildcats’ 20-3 loss to USC Sept. 23 and reported interest in team’s young talent and potential.

    Could become: a useful dose of speed wherever he plays

    Gershon’s take: “”He hasn’t played at a big-time high school, which makes it tougher to evaluate him. …If he was playing at a higher level of high school and putting up the same numbers, everyone would be going after him.””

    Hans Philip – defensive tackle

    6-foot-1, 282 pounds

    San Bernardino, Calif.

    Rivals rating (on a five-star scale): three stars

    Skinny: Brother of redshirt senior defensive tackle Paul Phillip. Attended the Wildcats’ big-man camp held on the UA Mall June 10. Opened coaches’ eyes when on successive plays he knocked down Tucson Salpointe High School’s Kris O’Dowd, the nation’s No. 5 guard prospect and an Arizona target.

    Could become: a starter as upperclassman

    Gershon’s take: “”He’s as big a supporter as there are of any of the commitments.””

    David Roberts – wide receiver

    6-foot, 174 pounds

    Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.

    Rivals rating (on a five-star scale): three stars

    Skinny: Outshined all other wide receivers at Arizona’s one-day camp June 11 at Arizona Stadium. Attends the same high school that freshman cornerback Devin Ross did and carries a 4.1 grade point average.

    Could become: a frequent contributor in second year

    Gershon’s take: “”He proved right away (at the camp) that he could play at a Pac-10 level.””

    Devin Veal – wide receiver/cornerback

    5-foot-11, 161 pounds

    Sierra Vista

    Rivals rating (on a five-star scale): three stars

    Skinny: A three-position player in high school who was all-league as a quarterback in junior season. Competed at Arizona’s one-day camp alongside Roberts and Beirne. Cousin of former Arizona baseball player Donald Veal, a second-round Major League Baseball draft pick in 2005.

    Could become: a contributor in second year

    Gershon’s take: “”No one’s really seen him, but Arizona saw him for a day, and that was enough for (head coach) Mike Stoops to offer him (a scholarship).””

    Sione Tau – offensive tackle

    6-foot-6, 284 pounds


    Rivals rating (on a five-star scale): three stars

    Skinny: Rated No. 3 player in Hawaii. Also recruited by ASU, Colorado, Boise State, Utah and Hawaii. Cousin of UA freshman defensive tackle Lolomana Mikaele.

    Could become: a contributor by second year

    Gershon’s take: “”Arizona’s really doing a great job of recruiting high there (in Hawaii). (Defensive tackles coach) Mike Tuiasosopo already has a lot of connections in that state.””

    What to expect from here

    Thanks to a three-game winning streak earlier this month, the Wildcats have a shot at a few prospects they wouldn’t have had before, Gershon said.

    Three players Arizona is making good headway with are Pittsburgh tight end Ron Gronjowski; Gardena, Calif., outside linebacker Apaiata Tuihalamaka, who made an early verbal commitment to Colorado; and O’Dowd. Each is a four-star prospect.

    An important new selling point for the Wildcats is on-field proof the program is using young talent to turn the corner from its losing ways, Gershon said.

    Arizona, 6-6 this season, has its most victories since 1999, which may keep Stoops and Co. from having to depend on dedication and persistence to nab players.

    “”It’s not hope anymore – it’s kind of proof now,”” Gershon said. “”It’s like, ‘Look at what we’ve accomplished.'””

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