The recruiting saga of Wacholz should be familiar to Wildcat recruiting afficionados. After a junior season that revealed a need for strength and quickness, the left tackle for Rancho Bernardo High set out to re-make himself in the off-season, investing multiple trips to the gym, oftentimes on the same day to work different body parts. The result is that the Wildcats are getting a muscled youngster who looks like he might well have spent the last year in the new strength and fitness program that Head Coach Mike Stoops has instilled in Wildcat gridders.
After that strenuous off-season workout regimen, Wacholz was struck down in his high school team's final scrimmage and was limited to two games near the end of his senior season. As a result, teams that had been seriously recruiting the promising lineman backed off; including Arizona. Wacholz, however, kept up contact with Arizona through the 2003 season even traveling to Tucson to watch two Wildcat games while standing on the sidelines on crutches.
After walking into a JC combine for sophomores this spring, Wacholz found himself suddenly a hot commodity again as schools from the Big Ten and Pac Ten sought his services. Arizona, Washington and Michigan State got visits from the San Diegan, who received a total of six offers in the space of a few weeks. Fortunately for Arizona, the Wildcats won out in the re-recruitment of Wacholz because, "Arizona has everything going for it as far as I can see. They are not going anywhere but up."
During his official visit to Tucson earlier in June, Wacholz said he got to meet most of his future teammates on the offensive line. "John Abramo was my host and I hung out with John Parada a lot on both days. I had met Tanner Bell last year." Wacholz told Cat Tracks the only one of the offensive linemen that he has not met thus far is Brandon Phillips. "I hear he is really big." Wacholz also got the chance to meet some of his future teammates on the defensive side of the line including Brad Brittain and Yaniv Barnett.
One factor that Wacholz believes will result in immediate improvement for the Wildcats on the field this fall is the improved conditioning of the squad, which he says was readily apparent on his visit this month. "The new trainers have really impressed me. Nobody has a gut anymore. You can see the improvement just in the short amount of time that the new training program has been in effect." Wacholz pointed to John Parada as an example of one beneficiary of the new strength and conditioning program, saying, "he is really cut up now at 315 pounds."
Before signing his letter of intent with Arizona, Wacholz took visits to the University of Washington and Michigan State, but in his heart it seemed that there was always a special bond with Arizona. "I think we're going to do pretty good," Wacholz says of the Wildcats. "Coach Stoops is going to come in and win right away.
" It's all about the attitude. I could already see the difference in attitude from last year just on my visit. These guys are turned around and they want to do something."
Wacholz recognizes there is a chance that he might be called upon to contribute in the coming season and his 400 lb bench press suggests that he is fully capable of making a statement as a true frosh. "I think there is a chance of me seeing time from what I've been told. They don't really have a back-up for Chris Johnson."
Wacholz has a high school teammate who will be joining him in Tucson, defensive lineman Chris Colone, 6-4, 280. Colone is one of the few incoming frosh who has yet to report to the Wildcats for the summer conditioning program. "Chris has an all star game for our high school and he'll be coming over in July," Wacholz explained. As previously arranged with the Wildcat coaches, Wacholz will report to Tucson on the 28th of June, "but then I'll be coming back the second week in July for a family vacation that has been scheduled for some time."
With his leg completely healed and the strong possibility of being a four-year starter for Arizona, things are finally looking the way they are supposed to look for a dedicated young man who has committed himself to being the best offensive lineman he could possibly be. Now, it's payoff time for Big Bill and for the Arizona Wildcats.