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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona football’s future shines brightly

Bill Mason, Cat Tran Driver (Brown hair) Dennis Cady, Cat Tran Driver (black and white striped shirt) AJ Dowgiert, Cat Tran Driver (Plaid/Checkered Shirt)

When Hawaiian offensive guard Michael Eletise committed to Arizona last week, the four-star recruit chose the Wildcats over a host of West Coast programs including Washington, UCLA and ASU.

Eletise, who is regarded as the best offensive guard prospect on the West Coast, even had offers from college football bluebloods such as Alabama, Texas and LSU.

The fact Eletise chose to commit to the UA over all those other schools is a testament to the burgeoning stature of head coach Rich Rodriguez’s program.

While Arizona is not yet a top destination for elite high school recruits across the country, the Wildcats’ recent success both on the field and the recruiting trail are putting the UA on the track to greater relevancy.

Big wins on the gridiron translated into another kind of winning streak this past month, when Arizona landed nine commits in a week and a half span.

In addition to Eletise, Arizona recently landed another four-star recruit, defensive end Josh Allen of Long Beach City College. Allen’s Long Beach teammate, safety London Iakopo, joined the club a couple days later.

Including Allen and Iakopo, 11 of Arizona’s 17 commits for the 2016 class are from the state of California. Interestingly, just one is from in-state: Salpointe Catholic High School’s Justin Holt.

Arizona has clearly placed a big stake in California, and for good reason given the Golden State’s ability to produce gilded athletes.

But to conclude that the UA has taken the leap into the next echelon of college football programs, you’d have to look at Arizona’s appeal outside the West Coast hotbed.

Right now, it looks like Rodriguez’s Hard Edge brand is still catching on in other regions, where the coaching staff spends decidedly less energy pursuing recruits.

Only three of Arizona’s 2016 commits hail from the East—one each from Arkansas, Georgia and Pennsylvania—and none of them were considered highly touted guys when they made their decision.

Rodriguez and his staff did strike it rich in Louisiana last year, which serves as the home to five commits in the 2015 class. But that Cajun bunch, too, was generally looked upon as minnows to the sharks of the SEC.

Whether Arizona can broaden its appeal to top recruits both in and outside the West Coast will all depend on whether the UA can maintain its status as a national contender.

To do that, the UA will need its talent to be to the caliber of other top programs. That is why this next recruiting class, currently ranked as high as No. 18 in the country according to, needs to be a big one.

A highly ranked recruiting class doesn’t always lead to a finer-performing football program, but talent is a commodity, and the Wildcats are doing a better job of attracting some of the better talent they can get their claws on.

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