In a year that saw the Cats again in the top 20 in the Scout.com recruiting rankings, perhaps the most impressive thing about the 2006 Arizona class are the walk-ons that will report today in Tucson. The Wildcat coaching staff was able to talk some great local talent to come to Arizona on their own dime, as well as a key out of state punter.
The addition of high school running backs Garen Demery, Reggie Sheffield and Tim House, as well as junior college back Chris Jennings, All-Texas high school punter Keenyn Crier and Phoenix standout linebacker Cole Graybill are huge for the rebuilding Arizona program. Every single one of these young men chose to pay their own way at Arizona, at least for the time being, over offers from other schools.
"I had offers from Colorado State, Utah, Air Force and Illinois State," said Cole Graybill. "I even took visits to Illinois State and Colorado State and I cancelled visits to Air Force and Utah. I kind of new that I was going to go to Arizona because I am an Arizona guy."
The addition of Graybill is potentially the biggest of the bunch. Since arriving on campus in early July he has been extremely impressive working at the MIKE linebacker spot and his presence will only help the depth of an already strong corps of young linebackers. Cole could ultimately push his way into a back up role behind Junior Ronnie Palmer, which would allow the coaches to move Adrian McCovy to the SAM spot, which is more of a natural spot for McCovy.
The addition of Graybill is especially nice considering his family history with the Wildcats' main rival to the north.
"My grandpa played football, basketball and baseball at ASU in the 50's," Graybill admitted. "He was an iron man kind of. My uncle also played baseball at ASU and both he and my grandpa played in the majors for a while."
With such ASU ties one would think that if he were to attend any local university on his own dime it would be the Sun Devils. But that's just not the case for Cole.
"I want to be different," he said. "I have all of these family ties to ASU but it just is not the right place for me. I have to go out on my own and make my own mark and U of A is definitely the place for me to do that."
Reggie Sheffield, the Arizona 1A-3A State Player of the Year, Garen Demery, who rushed for nearly 3,000 yards as a senior at Valhalla High School in the San Diego area and Tim House from Peoria Centennial High School are all great additions to the program at a position of great need. The running back situation at Arizona is a good one, but it remains an unproven one. The addition of the three young runners, guys that likely would have been scholarship guys under John Mackovic, will only add to the depth of an already deep position.
Arizona Western Junior College running back Chris Jennings could ultimately see the field this year, especially if Chris Henry, Xavier Smith or Terry Longbons struggle early in the year. Jennings is built like a truck and has definite BCS type speed.
Texas punter Keenyn Crier is a huge addition as well. His presence in the special teams corps allows Nick Folk to fully concentrate on field goals and field goals only, and he will battle with Kyle McQuown for the punting duties. Any time there is a battle for a starting role only good things can happen.
The additions of these talented young men are great for the future of the Arizona program. All of them have the potential to see the field from the start and once they do get a chance to show their ‘stuff', some will wonder why in the world these guys were not more highly recruited.
Many consider the Arizona recruiting class of 2006 to be the best in history. There is no doubt in anybody's mind that the walk on class of 2006 is the best crop of walk-ons ever to enter the U of A in one year.