While he is still in the process of assembling his coaching staff, Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez has wasted no time in hitting the recruiting trail. He has made sure to communicate with players previously committed to the prior staff and has been able to retain a good chunk of those players.
When Rodriguez first arrived, there were multiple commits that were wavering, but several have decided to stay solid in their commitments. One of the biggest concerns for UA fans was that status of quarterback commit Nate Sudfeld.
More of a traditional passer, many wondered if Sudfeld was a fit in Rodriguez's system. The signal-caller from Modesto (Calif.) Christian recently visited UA and seemed to come away with more of a positive outlook regarding his potential at Arizona.
Rodriguez went the extra mile with Sudfeld as he and co-offensive coordinator Rod Smith traveled to Sudfeld's campus to show how much of a priority he is. Whether or not that has an effect on Sudfeld's final decision is to be determined, but Rodriguez's choice to venture out to California to meet with a recruit speaks to how seriously he is taking the 2012 class.
Offensive lineman Zach Hemmila has been committed to the Wildcats for some time now and remained solid even after the coaching change. There may have been some hesitance on Hemmila's end before his recent visit to campus, but that trip seemed to clear everything up for the lineman from Chandler.
With offensive line coach Robert Anae staying put at Arizona, Hemmila feels even more comfortable with his commitment to UA. Rodriguez decided to retain the offensive line coach and that move alone should allow him to keep continuity within that unit and hold on to current commits.
Rodriguez would also love to get in the thick of things with recruits D.J. Foster. Foster – a running back from Scottsdale Saguaro – is one of the most highly touted players on the west coast and will be an extremely difficult recruit for Rodriguez to nab. Though Foster will be a very difficult player to land for Rodriguez, the coach's presence definitely puts Arizona in a better position for his services.
Foster would fit the Wildcats' offense perfectly under Rodriguez. His skill-set matches up with the type of athletes Rodriguez has utilized at his previous stops. Foster would immediately give Arizona the type of weapon that would take the offense to the next level and would give Rodriguez even more credibility among the UA fan-base.
The new staff has also begun offering players that were not on the Wildcats' radar just a month ago. Rodriguez isn't shy about going after top-tier prospects and that is evident with his pursuit of Old Tappan (NJ) dual-threat quarterback Devin Fuller. Although listed as an athlete and being pursued as a defensive back by many major programs, Fuller does possess a desire to lead an offense and Rodriguez has offered him that opportunity.
Fuller may even take a visit to Arizona's campus in the near future and if that happens then it should be taken as a serious contender for his services. Without Rodriguez, UA wouldn't even be on Fuller's radar.
Rodriguez has also recognized the Wildcats' immediate need for a quarterback, which is why he has offered Scottsdale Community College signal-caller Cody Sokol. Although more of a pro-style quarterback, Sokol could come in and fill a void until one of the younger players is ready to take over the quarterbacking duties.
Given Arizona's depth and youth at wide receiver, a pro-style quarterback like Sokol could help ease the transition into Rodriguez's offensive philosophy. Having someone who can throw the ball well from the pocket would allow these players to see the field plenty and, in turn, give a chance to get UA's best weapons on the field often.
Not that it wouldn't work with more of running quarterback under center, but Arizona's current offensive roster is better suited for someone who can throw the ball well. That will change gradually over time, but Sokol would give Rodriguez another option under center.
Rodriguez has also been known to find diamonds in the rough in the past. Recently he offered Scottsdale Chaparral defensive end Dylan Cozens. In his first year of organized football, Cozens shows flashes of being a very strong player at the next level given his tools. Cozens is extremely raw though and has a long way to go, but assistant Tony Dews gave him an offer because he knows Rodriguez and his fellow staff members can work with a player with the type of natural ability that Cozens has.
There are still over eight months until Rodriguez will finally get to prove his worth to Arizona fans. In the meantime, he has done a great job in earning the confidence of the UA fan-base. His hard work has already put Arizona's name with some of the better prospects in the nation and that could pay off rather quickly if he is successful on the recruiting trail.
New staff already recruiting hard
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