Coaches pleased with JUCO additions

While the 2004 football season was going on the Arizona Wildcat coaches were targeting some of the best Junior College prospects from around the nation because they knew they were going to have holes to fill. With the graduation of Steve Fleming and Clarence McRae at the tight end spot and the graduation of Ricky Williams at the wide out spot they knew they had to get immediate help from the JUCO ranks. We spoke with coaches <b>Mike Canales</b> and <b>Mark Stoops</b> about the newest Wildcats.

Until today, the first day that JUCO mid year transfers can sign their Letters of Intent, the Wildcat coaches knew they had their replacements for Fleming and McRae as well as a great addition to the defensive backfield. One thing they were not sure about is what their targeted replacement for Williams was going to do.

As of last night Santa Monica College wide receiver B.J. Vickers was still unsure if he was going to sign with Arizona today or if he was going to sign with Cal or even take another trip or two.

"Right now I just don't know," Vickers told CatTracks last night. "I think I want to sign with Arizona but I am just not 100% sure yet. I might wait and take a trip to Nebraska or Washington next weekend. I just don't know."

Vickers said that he went to bed not knowing what he wanted to do. He thought that Arizona was the best place for him and he thought he wanted to go ahead and sign but he was only "98%" sure last night.

B.J. decided that he wanted to talk to his coaches and his dad one last time to see what they thought was the best thing for him to do.

"I called my dad again today and he said that I should just go ahead and sign," said Vickers. "He knew that I really liked Arizona and that I had a great opportunity there to play a lot and play for great coaches. All along my dad and my coaches gave me great advice and today they all agreed that Arizona was where I needed to go. So today at about one o'clock I decided that Arizona was my new school. At about two I faxed in my Letter of Intent and I am now a Wildcat. I am really excited to be going to Arizona."

Vickers says that he got a chance to talk to his lead recruiter and his new offensive coordinator.

"I called Coach (Mike) Tui (Tuiasosopo) and Coach (Mike) Canales," he said. "They were both excited. I am going to call Coach (Charlie) Williams and Coach (Mike) Stoops tonight to talk to them."

Vickers saying that Arizona Offensive Coordinator Mike Canales is excited is an understatement. A big understatement.

"Oh man, he (Vickers) just made us better by 100 yards a game next year," said UA OC Mike Canales. "He is just a special player and a truly special threat. He can take a 2 yard hitch route to the house and he can stretch the field in a seam. He can do it all as a wide receiver. He is an amazing addition to our offense. I can't wait to see him in an Arizona uniform."

Even though Vickers may be the ‘name' signing of today, the Cats made out really well at three other positions with their three other singings as well. Brandyn McCall, Paul Nichols and Michael Johnson all officially visited Arizona, with Vickers, for the huge Arizona win over Arizona State. Only difference is, McCall, Johnson and Nichols all committed basically on the spot.

"I knew that Arizona was where I wanted to be," said the 6-foot-5 inch, 250 pound McCall. "My trip showed me that they use the tight end and that Arizona is just a great place to be."

McCall should be able to step in right away and help fill the void left my departing senior Steve Fleming. According to Mike Canales, McCall and Fleming are very similar.

"I am really looking forward to having him (McCall) come in and fill in and take off where Steve (Fleming) left off," said Canales. "With his size and playmaking ability he gives us another legitimate threat in the passing game and the running game. He can catch the ball and he is a good, solid blocker too."

Paul Nichols was recruited to fill the role of Clarence McRae as an H-back and backup fullback. Nichols says that he is excited to be a Wildcat and that he won't waste much time in getting to Tucson.

"I signed and faxed my letter at about 8 o'clock this morning," said Nichols. "I am just really happy to be a Wildcat. I am gong to be there on the 8th of January so I can get into things. I am going to live with Brandyn McCall so we are going to get our place set up and get used to the area so we can start the lifting program." Nichols' role on the team will be three fold. He is a legit tight end and a great blocking fullback but he will be used in a lot of motion as an H-back and Mike Canales couldn't be happier to have Nichols and his versatility coming in.

"Paul is a great double or triple threat," said Canales. "He is a ‘tweener' meaning he is a good tight end but he has the ability and willingness to mix it up and be a lad blocker and a good blocker on the edge. He fits the fullback mold perfectly so he is a great addition to go with Pedro (Limon) and Brandyn."

The fourth JUCO mid year transfer is Michael Johnson, a 6-foot-3 inch, 196 pound defensive back from Tyler, Texas Junior College. Johnson was named 1st team JC-Gridwire All-American after putting together a stellar year at Tyler.

Coming out of Pflugerville High School outside Austin, Texas, Johnson knew that he was going to go the JC route because of his lagging academic record in high school. Johnson enrolled at Tyler and never looked back as he will graduate this week with an Associates Degree in General Studies.

Johnson is an amazing addition to the defensive backfield according to Arizona Defensive Coordinator Mark Stoops.

"I am awfully excited to have Michael coming to Arizona," said Stoops. "He is just a fantastic football player. He is smart and very instinctual and he will definitely have an impact right away."

Stoops went on to compare Johnson to one of the current Wildcats, and the comparison should excite Wildcat fans.

"To me he is a lot like Darrell (Brooks)," said Stoops. "He can play corner, safety and nickel so he can play the whole secondary. He is a real good football player."

As excited as Mark Stoops is to have him, Johnson is even more excited to be an Arizona Wildcat.

"It has been a lot of hard work to get this opportunity," said Johnson. "I faxed my letter in this morning at about 10:15 or so and it just feels great to be a Wildcat. Like I said when I committed, I am 200% a Wildcat and I can't wait to get there. I plan on getting there on January 9th so I can start working out immediately. After I sent in my letter I talked to Coach (Dan) Berezowitz (Recruiting Coordinator) and then I spoke to Coach Williams and then I spoke to Coach (Mark) Stoops and they were all excited. They are not as excited as I am though, I can't wait to get there to start winning."

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