Rodriguez breaks down 2015 class

Rich Rodriguez had plenty to say Wednesday about the 2015 class. Read on to see his thoughts on how it addresses needs, where the current depth is, and much more.

Arizona may not have the highest ranked class in the Pac-12, but Rich Rodriguez is confident it feels the Wildcats’ needs at numerous positions.

“We certainly had to address the need up front on the offensive and defensive lines,” Rodriguez said. “We lost a lot of safeties, so that was a priority for us. We are trying to get faster as a team, particularly defensively.

Rodriguez is confident that Arizona got better on Wednesday, but the true results won’t be seen immediately.

“I think we are a little bit faster and more athletic across the board, but I also think our last couple of recruiting classes aren’t bad either,” he said. “It’s hard to judge it right now.

“I think all of the rankings are fun for fans and fun for media to look at them and all that stuff, but I think you probably need to rank them a few years down the road and see what kind of impact the class really had.

“Nobody won a game today, but a lot of people put themselves in position to win games today and that is important to remember.”

“I thought we needed to add some athleticism and speed. It is all across the board, in particular the guys we brought in mid-year, whether they were greyshirted or junior college guys. We had some immediate needs that we tried to fill, and I think we did that with this class.”

Depth has seemingly been an issue since Rodriguez arrived at Arizona and it appears that it may not be one for much longer.

“Our numbers are getting better,” he said. “Those of you who have followed us for three years know we have been trying to catch up.

“Even though our numbers are going to be young on the roster, we have close to the number of guys at each position that we need to have. There is a breakdown that every staff personnel has of the defensive backs, linebackers, offensive lineman, etc. that we need to have.

“The numbers were way off defensively in the first two years, and now they are close to where we want them. They are going to be younger and more inexperienced than we want, but at least we have the bodies for this fall.”

Last season, Arizona filled its recruiting class early and that was once again the case for this cycle as well.

“It just happened,” Rodriguez said. “I remember after last year, I told the staff that we didn’t have enough room at the end for guys that developed late or showed more interest later.

“We wanted to save some spots for this year, but that didn’t happen. In the future, we are going to have to do that and make a conscious effort to save two or three spots for guys who might be seniors that developed late or guys that showed interest more than they had early in the recruiting process.

“That is just a matter of me making sure that our numbers stay right. When we go back over every one of these guys that committed and stayed with us, we would take them all over again. It was a good situation to be in, but I would like to be able to sign five or six more.

“I think we would have added more really talented guys to the class if we could have but I never worry about the guys I don’t get. I always worry about the ones we got, and we did get some good ones.”

The level of success has increased in the past few years, but that does not necessarily mean the recruiting pitch has changed.

“I think more than anything we were saying in the first couple of years, we weren’t promising them they would start, but we were guaranteeing them they could look at the roster and see the opportunity,” Rodriguez said.

“I never get into where I guarantee you once you step on campus you will start because that’s not fair to them or the guys on our team. We also tell them we don’t recruit anybody to be backups.

“We recruit everybody to compete right away, whether you’re a junior college guy, freshman, transfer, once we get you on campus and on the roster you are expected to compete for playing time. I think those guys can see early that they were going to have an opportunity.

“If we recruit and develop the right way, two or three years down the road it is going to be harder for a freshman to come in and break the lineup, but there will still be some that do that. As our program continues to grow, you will see some young guys make an impact, but it will be less than right now.”

There wasn’t any drama for Arizona on Signing Day and Rodriguez is just fine with that.

“The recruiting sites and attention is fun and exciting and I think it shows the popularity of football, but some of it is way over the top,” he said. “This pulling the hat stuff out.

“Making an announcement with your family where you want to go, that’s exciting. But putting five hats on the table and then it’s like which one is the chicken or ball under, give me a break.

“Now the guy is going to come and think he is going to win the Heisman trophy when he is a freshman. I know some players control the deal and sometimes schools control the deal.

“We had a guy in the past and we were his first offer and then his only offer for a long time and then he got a couple of other schools in the end and he wanted to be a part of the three hat deal, so I said lets make it easy, throw ours out and make it a two hat deal. He did and I think that is a good thing.”

With the 2015 class complete, attention turns to 2016.

“I think the staff can probably gauge the interest a little bit more over the next few weeks because now all of these kids that are going to be seniors next year or juniors next year are wanting to be like their teammates they saw on TV or signing a scholarship paper or something like that,” Rodriguez said.

“I definitely think the interest from some really, really talented guys is going to be there more than it was in the past. Not just because of our success we had this year, but because of our facility, stability of the staff, and other things Arizona brings to the table.”

Still, Rodriguez left open the possibility of adding a transfer.

“We might have one spot for an incoming transfer and I wish we had a few more,” he said. “It is interesting that they call it a transfer market, because that is really what it is with the rule of young men being able to graduate and go wherever they want as far as finding a different major that they do not have at their current school.

“It behooves us to have a spot for a guy that can be an immediate help and is an immediate need. We think we can maybe do that, but we are not shopping for that. You cannot shop for guys like that, it just happens.”

The plan is to also add numerous walk-ons, which is something Rodriguez is quite proud of.

“I can’t announce it today, but after whatever happens in two or three weeks, we will have collected the greatest group of walk-ons in the entire country,” he said. “It is a passion of mine and of the staff.

“We can’t announce who they are until they have done all the proper requirements but I think we will have a dozen or so when it’s all said and done. I wouldn’t be shocked if three or four of the dozen invited walk-ons get playing time in the next two years.

“Four or five of the walk-ons may also get scholarships, and that is without really recruiting them. It’s them making their unofficial visits and when they talk to us, we explain our vision for our program, so some will be local and end up being Pac-12 players. I think there is good football in this area with the potential to be even better.”

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