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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Hawaii’s finest commits to Cats

    Mike Tuiasosopo has once again flexed his recruiting muscle in Hawaii. His latest feat, though, might qualify for the powerlifting division.

    Four-star defensive tackle Kaniela Tuipulotu, Hawaii’s No. 1 recruit, verbally committed to Arizona yesterday.

    Tuipulotu had been enamored of Utah after visiting its campus Jan. 12, and USC made a late push to secure the 6-foot-1, 280 pound Kahuku native.

    But in the end, he was swayed by the start-to-finish persistence of Tuiasosopo, his new position coach.

    “”When I thought about it, no one recruited me harder,”” Tuipulotu said in a phone interview yesterday.

    After making a campus visit to Oregon State Jan. 19, Tuipulotu was stuck. He had developed good relationships with Utes players and coaches, and some of his cousins live in the Salt Lake City area.

    And OSU’s pitch was fresh on his mind.

    Then he remembered his earlier trip to Tucson. He had come in dreading a “”big city”” – freeways roaming the city like blood vessels, tall skyscrapers obscuring the desert sky.

    “”But it’s all spread out,”” Tuipulotu said. “”I like that a lot.””

    Tuiasosopo sealed the deal with laid-back yet straightforward rhetoric. He told the prep standout he could come in and play immediately next season, but that next year’s starters are set.

    “”It was difficult for a while, but then I realized I just put too much thought into it,”” Tuipulotu said of his decision. “”It should have been easy for me.””

    Tuiasosopo has been the Wildcats’ recruiting ace for this year’s class, nabbing three of their four-star prospects and a trio of three-star players, including a pair from Honolulu.

    The Wildcats were smart in securing Tuipulotu, who fills a team need and shows great promise at a position not usually taught well in high school, said Josh Gershon of, a recruiting Web site on the Rivals network.

    Tuipulotu recorded 27 sacks over his junior and senior seasons.

    “”If you can get one that’s highly rated like this kid, it’s a significant coup, especially for Arizona, because USC came on hard, and everyone knows when USC gets involved, it’s hard for a school to fend them off,”” Gershon said.

    Tuipulotu’s addition does wonders for Arizona’s now-15-member class, Gershon said, adding that it could be the start of a few late but rewarding returns from Arizona’s “”quality over quantity”” policy.

    The Wildcats have only 21 scholarships to offer, after being allotted 25 last year.

    “”They’ve been picky with who they offered early, and it’s staring to pay off at the end,”” Gershon said.

    Verbal commitments are non-binding until athletes sign national letters-of-intent. National signing day is Wednesday.

    Wyatt hired as receivers coach

    Arizona’s Big 12 Conference ties keep growing.

    Head coach Mike Stoops announced former Oklahoma assistant Darrell Wyatt as the Wildcats’ new wide receivers coach yesterday.

    Wyatt replaces Charlie Williams, who left Arizona in December to pursue a job at North Carolina.

    Wyatt spent 2006 as the receivers coach for the Minnesota Vikings. He previously coached receivers at two other Big 12 schools, Kansas and Oklahoma State.

    His first two years with the Sooners corresponded with Stoops’ final two seasons as Oklahoma’s defensive coordinator in 2002-2003.

    Wyatt is the third former Big 12 coach Stoops has brought on this off-season, joining

    offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes and offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh, both late of Texas Tech.

    Wyatt inherits a unit led by sophomore Mike Thomas (50 receptions, 597 yards, two touchdowns) that should get plenty of work next season in Dykes’ spread offense.

    “”I’m looking forward to working with coach Stoops and coach Dykes to take Arizona’s offense to another level,”” Wyatt said in a statement. “”I’ve seen tape of the returning players and feel we have some good receivers who will work well in our new plans.””

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