Cat Tracks: Now you signed 26 players, you must be happy with this class?
Rob Ianello: "26 is a lot of guys. We visited 47 and got 26 which is over 50%. If IBM has a sales force that could do that they'd feel pretty good, so our staff of coaches did a great job with this class."
Cat Tracks: Who are some of the key elements of this class?
Ianello: "One of the things with this class that we are very pleased with is the defensive ends and defensive tackles that we signed. We are very thin at those spots, particularly at defensive tackle. We are very thin on our current roster, so to go out and sign a Cedric Cofer, a Cliff Stanford and a David Sharp, who is already in school, is a big, big thing. Then the defensive end group with Lionel Dotson, Jason Parker and Ryan Kilpatrick is a very athletic group. All three start on their high school basketball teams, so they are a very athletic group of guys. When we can put those six guys with our current group of guys on campus I think we really bolstered our defensive front."
Cat Tracks: You pulled a few players from the Dallas area, isn't this a new territory for you?
Ianello: "Dallas would be seen as a new area for us, as would central Texas. Any time you go into to a new area it takes time to establish ties and get young people on campus who say they want to go to your school. Now with Rick Dykes' departure Jay Boulaware will probably take that area from him. Jay is from the area and he should be able to continue the relationships and recruiting is all about relationships."
Cat Tracks: You had several de-commits in this class. Is this out of the ordinary or is it expected?
Ianello: "That is expected. I learned a long time ago at Alabama that when you get a commitment from them you have a very good chance at getting them. When someone commits to us it means we have a very good shot at actually landing them. Unfortunately in this day and time people don't take no for an answer. When we have a commitment we go out and keep recruiting in anticipation that we may end up losing a player."
Cat Tracks: With the problems back in November was this a much more difficult recruiting season? How did you handle the negative press?
Ianello: "We hit the situation on our campus head on. We discussed it, we explained it to the families. If you look at it from a positive aspect our dirty laundry was aired on the Internet and on ESPN. Everybody came into our program investigating us with open eyes. In other cases, with other teams they go into that campus with their eyes closed and things pop up when they are there. In our situation we addressed it, our players addressed it and it really did not become an issue with us."
Cat Tracks: Every player we interviewed has mentioned the family atmosphere and the camaraderie. The player really sold the program didn't they?
Ianello: "I am a firm believer that we as coaches get them to visit, but the players get them to come here. That's exactly how it works in recruiting. We go out and try to get guys to visit. Our players are the ones who show them and talk to them about why this is a great place. We tell the players to keep it real. Don't talk to them in recruiting terms, talk to them about exactly what it means to be an Arizona Wildcat. There are some positives and negatives and we feel strongly that our positives far outweigh the negative and our players feel the same way. Our players did a great job. They really stepped up. Even if they weren't hosting a guy they tried to be around the guy."
Cat Tracks: Every player we talked to seems to not only be good football players, they seem to be good people. Do you strive for that?
Ianello: "We have a little check list we ask players, and also ask coaches and guidance counselors. I think part of the evaluation process in recruiting is not only how they look on the football field, but what kind of character do they have. Do they want to get an education? Do they want to go to class? Do they want to work hard? Do they like playing football? All of those things go into the evaluation process along with can he catch or can he tackle? Our staff takes it very seriously. Coach Mackovic brings it upon us that that is what we are looking for in our players. We as a staff go out with that as our marching orders."
Cat Tracks: Who are some of the guys who may not have gotten the attention from the recruiting services, but that you are high on?
Ianello: "Peter Graniello is one guy. Peter is from El Paso and El Paso is not heavily recruited. We got Michael Jefferson from there last year and Peter this year, so I think he could be a guy on the offensive line who can grow and step in for us.
"I believe that Cliff Stanford is a guy from LA Jefferson which is a place that does not get highly recruited sometimes, is a terrific player and student. We feel real good about Cliff.
"David Sharp is a guy from a junior college who we didn't have a lot of info on. Jay Boulware was in Kansas recruiting someone else and was asking around about other players in the conference. The coaches said this kid was a very good player so Jay watched some tape at the junior college he was already at. He called up the other coach and drove 2 ½ hours to go meet David Sharp.
"Zeonte Sherman is a guy who is already in school. He was at Arizona Western, but now he's in school and in the weight room. Our strength coach says he's a very hard worker and shows the kind of athleticism he showed on tape. With Ryan Patterson we're more than excited to get our first player from Pima Community College and hopefully we get a connection going with Pima, our local junior college that can be one for us year in and year out.
Cat Tracks: Can Sharp and Sherman come in and win playing time right way?
Ianello: "We sure hope so. You recruit junior college players because you feel they can really contribute right away. With our defensive line we are hopeful David will really be able to do that. And with our secondary we hope Zeonte and Ryan Patterson in the fall can come in and help us."
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