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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Rich Rod looking for a few good recruits

Rebecca Marie Sasnett

Arizona football head coach Rich Rod reacts to a targeting hit call during the second quarter of No. 14 Arizona football’s 17-7 defeat against No. 25 UCLA at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. Arizona football went 3-9 on the 2016-2017 season and earned its first and only Pac-12 win.

In college football recruiting can change a lot between the end of the regular season and National Signing Day. Arizona head coach Richard Rodriguez and the Arizona football team witnessed those changes firsthand as a highly touted recruiting class disintegrated almost overnight. 

The collapse of what was hyped as a program changing collection of recruits is yet another bit of bad news for the Wildcats. There are few future stars in the class of 2021 and stars are exactly what the program needed.  

When one looks at a list of the newest Wildcats, Jalen Harris’ name stands out. The physically dominant defensive end rates as the Cat’s best recruit. The Mesa, Arizona athlete should find his way to the field immediately, considering how underwhelming the defense was last season. 

Joining Harris in the defensive trenches is Kurtis Brown. Brown, who was rated as the 46th best defensive tackle by ESPN, is a space eater that may need to spend some time in the weight room before he can unlock his full potential.

My-King Johnson and Kylan Wilborn aren’t highly rated by the recruiting services, but have the size and athleticism needed to be factors down the road.  

Tony Fields also may have not received a ton of love from the recruiting services, but he might be a good player at the collegiate level. Fields was a tackling machine in high school, racking up 93 tackles as a junior in 2015. The spring enrollee will see the field early, due to the lack of depth at the position and is most likely going to be a major contributor from day one. 

RELATED: Arizona football opens in prime time

Fields won’t be the only youngster manning the second level for the Cats. Joshua Brown and Jose Ramirez will also have an opportunity to contribute, but they may be a year or two away. There aren’t any Chris McCallister level recruits in the secondary, most of the signees are athletes that need time to learn the intricacies of the position.  

Rhedi Short and Malik Hausman are both large athletic corners, something desperately needed in Tucson.  Hausman, a product of regional power Las Vegas Bishop Gorman, is magic with the ball in his hands. Short is a versatile player whose best position may be safety or rover and is the kind of player that defensive coordinators love. Versatility is the name of the game in modern football. Short will be joining a talented safety class.  

Scott and Troy Young were both rated in the top sixty at their position, both bring versatility and ability to the secondary. Troy was a ballhawk during his time at Mobile Christian High School in Alabama.  Scott was a dynamite hitter at California power Helix, look for him to be a force on special teams.

Quarterback is the most important position on the field, and Arizona signed two talented signal callers. Rhett Rodriguez is more than Rich Rod’s son, he is a dual threat that should have a unique understanding of the offense.  

K’Hari Lane is a polished passer that can make pro level throws and isn’t a statue in the pocket, he has the athleticism to avoid the rush, but he isn’t going to win games with his legs. 

Tailback Nathan Tilford is the highest rated offensive recruit in the 2017 class, and it is easy to understand why. Tilford is a complete back, he can be a factor in the passing game as well as tote the rock and will be on the field immediately, provided that he masters the playbook.  

Another player that may see immediate playing time is tight end Bryce Gilbert. Gilbert is a hybrid tight end that can be flexed out, and play in a traditional inline position. He was highly coveted with Nebraska, Louisville and Utah all offering the star from Higley High.  

RELATED: Arizona game day guide

Brian Casteel is the highest rated receiver in what is a middling group. Casteel, whose only other Power Five offer came from Washington State, is at his most dangerous in the open field, and on shorter routes.  He is a good fit for the current system, that relies on short and intermediate routes to stretch opposing defenses.  

Drew Dixon was a quarterback at Sabino High School in Tucson, Arizona and will most likely be a receiver at Arizona. Dixon has the size to be a redzone threat, but isn’t a burner.  

Edgar Burrola is the lone offensive lineman in the incoming class. Burrola, like most young linemen, is a work in progress and is a prime candidate for a redshirt.  

Kicker Lucas Havrisik will immediately compete for playing time, due to underwhelming kicking specialists.  Havrisik converted on 11/16 field goal attempts last season, with a long of 51 yards. The Norco High School star also punted, and averaged just under forty yards per boot. His kickoffs were almost guaranteed touchbacks for Norco with 94.3% going unreturned.  

This isn’t nearly the class expected last fall, but there are some bright spots and some players that will be factors on the two deep this year. The question is whether there are enough difference makers to change the fortunes of a struggling program. 

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