Cats land another player

In an almost unprecedented move, the Wildcats have added yet another verbal commitment for the 2005 recruiting class. To say that Mike Stoops and crew have hit the ground running would be an understatement. This time the player pledging to the program is a home grown product.

Tucson's Xavier Smith has committed to the Arizona Wildcats. The running back decided to pull the trigger earlier than he planned, but did not want to let a scholarship pass him by.

"A lot of kids are going there early," Smith said. "They are only offering two scholarships for running backs and I did not want another player to take my spot."

Smith led Sunnyside to the Arizona 4-A state championship as a junior. He rushed for1,806 yards and 26 touchdowns for the Blue Devils. He was first team all-state pick by the coaches and first team All-Southern Arizona and all-city by both local papers.

Smith has good speed, decent size and really hits the hole. Not a bruising runner, he does fare well north to south. He's got good vertical quickness. He makes nice cuts, but does not dance too much. At 200-pounds he is a tough runner to bring down.

"He moves well running the ball on the outside and inside," said Sunnyside head coach Richard Sanchez. "He has good vision and quickness."

He also plays linebacker on defense and could potentially play that position on the next level, but for now he is clearly a running back.

"Coach (Kasey) Dunn recruited me," Smith said of the Wildcat running backs coach. "He's pretty cool."

Smith was originally a heavy ASU lean after his junior season, but was soon won over by the Arizona staff. After Stoops was hired the staff really began courting the local product. He and many of his Sunnyside teammates went out to watch a number of the team's spring practices and he came away impressed.

"I think they look really good on defense," says Smith. "I think they can turn it around and be a great team down the line."

Smith attended the Wildcats' one-day camp and looked very good. He's very athletic, and very strong. He has a nice build and can probably add more weight without losing speed or quickness.

The Wildcats did not add a running back in the 2004 class and will add one more in this class to go along with Smith. Smith also means that the Cats have added at least one of the key local recruits on their radar. Ironwood ridge's Daniel Borg has an offer and the Cats are still looking at Ian Brinker and Cody Jones.

He is the eight known verbal commitments to the program and the first running back.

Smith was celebrating with his family when we caught up with him and politely asked if we could call back later to finish the interview. We'll have more from him later this evening.

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