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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona football recruiting: Meet the new Wildcats on the block

The+Arizona+football+team+runs+onto+the+field+through+a+human+corridor+formed+by+the+Pride+of+Arizona+Marching+Band+at+Arizona+Stadium+before+the+2014+Homecoming+game+against+Colorado+on+Saturday%2C+Nov.+8%2C+2014.+The+incoming+recruits+will+play+their+first+game+with+the+Wildcats+in+September.

The Arizona football team runs onto the field through a human corridor formed by the Pride of Arizona Marching Band at Arizona Stadium before the 2014 Homecoming game against Colorado on Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014. The incoming recruits will play their first game with the Wildcats in September.

Rich Rodriguez and the Arizona football team desperately needed an infusion of talent at some key positions after posting a 7-6 record last season.

The Wildcats hope they achieved their goal, as they were able to add some offensive playmakers and some maulers in the trenches.

The biggest additions came on the defensive side as the Wildcats were able to add significant talent at defensive line and linebacker.

This recruiting class won’t excite the recruiting gurus, but Wildcat fans should rest easy knowing that these student athletes will eventually develop into valuable contributors.

Offense

The Wildcats have their signal caller of the future in Khalil Tate.

Tate is a perfect fit for Rodriguez’s spread attack. He’s a dynamic athlete that can create big plays with both his feet and arm.

Tate can make all the throws required, but his mechanics are a work in progress, making him unlikely to crack the two-deepthis season.

While explosive running back Nick Wilson will be the featured ball carrier for Arizona, he will be assisted by some talented freshman backs. J.J. Taylor is an elusive scat back who is at his best in space. Russell Halimon, like Taylor, is a small back, but he brings power to the position. Halimon is returning to the field following an ACL injury suffered during his senior year of high school, but may challenge for playing time in fall camp.

Last year, Arizona’s passing game was mediocre, and a lot of that could be attributed to the Wildcats’ receiver corps.

While the group is experienced, it’s not the most skilled unit in the Pac-12 Conference, so the new arrivals will be welcomed with open arms.

JUCO receiver Shawn Poindexter is a big, physical receiver that is fearless across the middle.

He stands at 6-foot-7 and his size will come in handy inside the red zone where he will be a welcome target for Wildcat quarterbacks.

Jessie Britt has an interesting story, he almost lost his life last December when he was hospitalized with a heart condition.

With that experience behind him, the talented speedster will look to put that harrowing incident behind him this fall.

Britt can run the fly sweep, he’s an extremely quick, versatile receiver that will create matchup problems for opposing defenses.

Tight ends are usually ignored in spread attacks, but Jamie Nunley is good enough to change that. Nunley is a tight end that can block at the point of attack, catches the ball well and is versatile enough to play the flex position. There’s a lot of talent in the skill positions, but the true signing day coups came on the offensive line.

Offensive line coach Jim Michalczik has a lot to work with, because the Wildcats signed some of the best young bruisers in the country.

Michael Eletise is one of the highest touted guards in the country, and he should be a future all-conference selection.

Keenan Walker is an athletic marvel that has the physical attributes to play tackle. Harper Sherman arrives from Canada, where he was one of the best tackles in that country. Sherman, like Walker, are grayshirts, which means they were signed in 2015 but arrived on campus this spring.

Bryson Cain is another tackle prospect with immense potential.

Defense

Arizona football was built upon the tenets of Arizona Desert Swarm, that ethos has been missing in recent years.

New defensive coordinator Marcel Yates will look to bring aggressive defense back to the desert, and this year’s defensive class is a good first step.

Kahi Neves is the highest rated defensive recruit, he’s a physical linebacker from Utah.

Joining Neves in the linebacker corps is Jacob Colacion and Jalen Cochran.

Colacion is undersized, he will need time in the weight room before challenging for significant playing time.

Yates’ 4-2-5 defensive scheme requires four defensive linemen, which is a drastic change from the 3-3-5 previously used by Arizona.

As a result, defensive line depth is paramount, which makes highly touted JUCO defensive end Josh Allen a true signing coup.

Allen not only pressures passers, he’s also not afraid to make plays against the run.

Francisco Nelson isn’t as polished as Allen, but is an agile pass rusher.

Defensive tackle Justin Holt can be a force on the interior.

Yates’ blitz-heavy scheme puts secondary players on an island regularly, so it’s imperative cornerbacks havethe attributes needed to survive in the wilderness.

Isaiah Hayes and Lorenzo Burns are bursting with athleticism, they will be key players in the secondary.

Safeties Gavin Robertson, Jarrius Wallace and Tristan Cooper are all three-star recruits, but should be able to challenge for playing time immediately, especially on special teams.


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