Cats look to the JUCO ranks

By all accounts the coaching staff at Arizona must look to fortify key positions through active recruitment of junior college transfers, and the Wildcats may find the junior college ranks as well stocked as at any time in the recent past at several positions.

One position the Wildcats are actively looking for help at is the defensive end position and a couple of possibilities include the Glendale JC tandem of J.C. Braker and Gerald Johnson.

Braker (6-6, 245) is a former Agua Fria standout who some consider a lean to ASU because one of his JUCO mates (Chris McKenzie) has already committed to the Devils. In addition, one of Braker's former high school teammates, Lamar Baker, opted to sign with ASU out of high school.

Johnson, meanwhile, elicits images of the kind of speed that Arizona once enjoyed on the perimeter when Mike Szlauko was wreaking havoc on opposing offenses with his 4.4 speed from the rush end in 1997. Johnson (6-3, 230) has 4.38 speed and has a grandmother who lives in Tucson, but grades may be a concern that would prevent a mid-year transfer.

Another strong possibility at the DE spot for Arizona might be John McCoy, a 6-3, 255 lb standout from the California JC ranks at Victor Valley JC in Victorville. What makes McCoy particularly attractive is the personal stability that accompanies a former military vet. McCoy's 4.56 speed in the forty yard dash is also a plus.

The interior of the Wildcat defensive line is another spot that JC converts could play a key role and Arizona has had a large sized target on the back of Jeremy Rose throughout the fall. Rose is 6-6 and goes about 295. He plays at Scottsdale CC and is looking at both the Wildcats and ASU, along with Alabama, Mississippi State and Nebraska. The fact that Arizona has offered early, combined with the uncertainty at Alabama may help the Wildcats some, however, Arizona has ground to make up on MSU to corral Rose.

Another key JC interior defensive lineman that is considering a visit to Arizona is stud nose guard Donyell Booker, 6-2, 300. Booker is generally considered the most dominant nose tackle in the California JC ranks.

Joe Tuinei of Snow JC and David Sharp of Highland JC in Kansas are two more solid interior linemen on the defensive side who have been getting looks from the Cats. Tuinei is 6-2, 290 and was all WSFL, while Sharp garnered second team honors in the Jayhawk league, which is the same league that Matt Lamatsch played in last year. Sharp is 6-3, 290 and reportedly runs a 4.85 forty.

Two other names that have not been mentioned in association with Wildcat recruiting efforts are also intriguing possibilities for the defensive line; Jesse Fa'Amusili 6-6, 292, 4.9, San Francisco City College, CA, and Freddy Saint-Preaux 6-5, 290, 4.8, Dodge City Community College, KS. Fa'Amusili, is interesting because he plays on a SFCC team that the Wildcats heavily recruit--WR Robert Johnson and LB Chauncey Clark are two SFCC prospects the Cats would love to have; and Saint-Preaux, because he had never really been on most recruiting charts.

Two JUCO defensive backs that have had Arizona on their list of favorites are Eric Wright of Glendale JC, a strong safety with 4.4 speed and Chijoke Onyenegecha 6-3, 205, 4.3, although pronouncing Chijoke's name may be as much of a challenge as obtaining his signature on a letter of intent. Onyenegecha has been considered a lock for Florida State, where he visited recently.

Offensively, Arizona has been pursuing JUCO wide receivers including Robert Johnson of SFCC, Fresno City's Willie Johnson (6-4, 205 4.4), Jamel Richardson(6-3, 215 4.5) of Victor Valley JC and Phillip Goodman of Sacramento City College (6-3, 213 4.5). Johnson is the smallest at 6-0, 180.

After the Wildcats lost out on their number one JC offensive line target with huge (6-8, 315) Patrick Afiff casting his lot somewhere else, not much has been reported as to the Wildcats closing in on any other JC offensive linemen. Although none have been mentioned as possibilities for Arizona, there are several in the Arizona JUCO ranks that have the kind of size that appeal to the Mackovic coaching style, including: Shawn Sullivan 6-5, 295, 5.2, Scottdale Community College, C.J. Blomvall 6-5, 310, 5.3, Mesa Community College, and Mike Thibodeaux 6-6, 305, 5.2, Eastern Arizona College. All three are offensive tackles, while offensive guard Joe Critchfield 6-3, 300, 5.4, Scottsdale Community College, has received some interest from four year schools.

One other JUCO who will be moving on to a four year school worth noting is Perry Thompson 6-7, 310, 5.2, of Sacremento City College. Thompson was a former Wildcat, who spent his redshirt freshman season under Dick Tomey before transferring out in the spring of 2001.

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