Cats complete recruiting class

The smoke cleared on signing day with no real surprises. The Wildcats added 26 new players, including a pair of mid year transfers. Although the Cats had lost a few players over the past couple of weeks, they held off any last minute defections and added a player that had previously committed elsewhere.

The Cats lost Soloman Smart to UNLV, but received a letter of intent from Phil Clark who was thought to be headed to the Rebels. Clark, a 6-6, 325-pound lineman from Moorpark College, helps fill the void left behind when Robert Gustavis and John Mahaffey decided not to attend Arizona.

"We had a couple of ‘trades' in the last 48 hours and that helped us out," John Mackovic said.

The Cats put an emphasis on landing defensive linemen,adding three defensive tackles and a trio of defensive ends. JC DT David Sharp will participate in spring ball and will have a leg up on the two prep tackles. Both Cedric Cofer and Cliff Stanford could also fight for time on the interior defensive line.

The Cats also brought in a trio of athletic defensive ends. Lionel Dotson is the highest rated of the bunch, with a frame that will support at least 30 more pounds. Both Jason Parker and Ryan Kilpatrick are fast athletes, who need some added bulk.

"We needed to continue to build our defensive front at tackle and end," Mackovic said. "We improved on our numbers there."

With the addition of Clark and three other linemen the Cats did a good job adding more depth. JC center Tom Robinson was originally going to fight for the center job in the spring, but due to academic concerns he re-enrolled at Cerritos JC and will instead join the team in August. Ismael Garcia and Peter Graniello add size to an already big unit.

The Cats are very thin at tight end and two JC guys will help a unit that has been depleted thanks to graduation, discipline problems and injury. Both Ray Gurley and Tommy Briggs are big ends who can catch and block. Both are 6-5 and around 255 pounds. Gurley was originally slated to enroll in the fall, but came up one math class short and is at Pima this spring.

"The tight ends will certainly figure in the rotation," Mackovic said.

The Cats brought in a ton of players who played quarterback in high school, but only two are college quarterbacks. The gem of the class is Richard Kovalcheck. The 6-3, 205-pound signal caller from San Diego is a fringe top-10 passer and chose the Wildcats over Tennessee. Joining Kovalcheck is Kris Heavner, a small town Texas kid who has been on Coach Mackovic's radar screen since Heavner's sophomore season.

"With the young quarterbacks we'll do everything to get them up to speed as quickly as possible," Mackovic said. "After they sign we can now send them football related materials. We already have their quarterback notebooks put together, we just haven't sent them yet."

The Cats also brought in several players who, due to their athletic ability, were pressed into action at quarterback on the prep level. Marcus Hollingsworth, Syndric Steptoe and Michael Beach were all prep signal callers who will move elsewhere on the field. Hollingsworth and Beach will play defensive back and Steptoe will begin his Wildcat career as a receiver.

Although the Cats signed just two in-state players, they did get the Arizona Player of the Year. Marcus Thomas is the state's all-time leading rusher, but will play wide receiver initially.

The Cats signed 13 defensive players, 13 offensive players and Steptoe who is still being classified in that "athlete" category. The Cats signed players from five states. California led the way with 12 players, nine from Texas, two from Arizona and one each from Florida and Missouri.


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