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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Signing Day 2016: #OKG time for Arizona football

Arizona+football+head+coach+Rich+Rodriguez+stands+in+University+Stadium+in+Albuquerque%2C+New+Mexico%2C+on+Dec.+19%2C+2015.+The+Wildcats+await+National+Signing+Day+on+Wednesday%2C+where+recruits+across+the+country+send+in+their+letters+of+intent.+
Alex McIntyre
Arizona football head coach Rich Rodriguez stands in University Stadium in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on Dec. 19, 2015. The Wildcats await National Signing Day on Wednesday, where recruits across the country send in their letters of intent.

The Arizona football coaching staff should understand as well as anyone that signing the best talent can determine the difference between residing at the bottom of the Pac-12 Conference South and returning to conference glory.

As a coach, the recruiting period from once the season ends until National Signing Day is arguably the most essential block of time.

Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez has the potential to ink his best recruiting class with so many players still uncommitted, so Wednesday could either be a home run or another disappointment.

From the other perspective, National Signing Day is also the biggest day for talented high school players to determine where they wish to spend the rest of their college career in hopes of possibly playing on Sundays.

Arizona’s 2016 recruiting class is shaping to be another sub-par group with only a handful of players that can make an immediate impact, but defense seems to be the primary focus this season.

According to the recruiting website 247sports.com, the Wildcats’ 2016 class is ranked No. 11 in the Pac-12 and No. 58 nationally as of Tuesday afternoon, so Arizona can take all the help that it can get on National Signing Day.

Nonetheless, give credit to the new additions on the defensive staff gaining ground on the recruiting trail on such short notice.

Arizona defensive coordinator Marcel Yates, who came over from Boise State, will introduce a 4-2-5 defense next season, but working with anyone but Scooby Wright III will present a challenge.

Yates will have the option of choosing between three-star linebacker Kahi Neves or California transfer Michael Barton.

Neves was once committed to Utah, but made the switch in December. Barton, who was once offensive lineman Freddie Tagaloa’s teammate at Cal, will look to make an immediate impact, as he will be eligible to play.

With Neves already enrolled for the spring semester and adjusting to the Arizona football lifestyle and Barton’s experience in the Pac-12 Conference, Yates will not have slim pickings for the other linebacker position.

At secondary, Arizona’s class features three safeties in three-star recruits Gavin Robertson and Jarrius Wallace and two-star recruit Tristan Cooper. However, London Iakopo, one of the nation’s top junior college safeties decommitted from Arizona, taking away from what could have been a better hauling.

Yates will receive quantity over quality. To his credit, those safeties will come in handy especially with the history of injuries on Arizona’s defense.

Arizona’s defense had a lack of pass rush last season and with Reggie Gilbert gone, a physical defensive end is key for Yates.

Arizona’s hopes of landing such a player hinge on the decision of junior college defensive end Josh Allen for becoming a viable piece for the future.

Standing at 6-foot-4 and 260 pounds, Allen can match the size of Gilbert, but has more athleticism so his ability to get to the quarterback will be seconds faster than Gilbert.

However unless he signs the dotted line of his national letter of intent for Arizona, he’s open to just about anyone.

National Signing Day begins Wednesday morning.

Rodriguez will formally announce the 2016 class at 2:30 p.m.


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