While Rodriguez missed out on a big time quarterback prospect in Devin Fuller, he picked things up a year later, landing Pierre Cormier, Anu Solomon, and Derek Babiash. On Monday, he added another player to that list of highly touted recruits.
Bellflower (Calif.) St. John's Bosco cornerback Naijiel Hale announced he was committing to Arizona at The Opening. He joins running back Nick Wilson and wide receiver Cameron Denson as the third four-star recruit in the 2014 class.
As a junior, the cornerback tallied 52 tackles, four interceptions and a sack. He is a fast, agile corner that can cover plenty of ground in a short amount of time.
Hale will be joining an Arizona defense that was near the bottom of the Pac-12 in Rodriguez's first year in the desert. The Wildcats finished with an 8-5 record, but may have won a few more with a stronger defense.
Arizona gave up an average of 499 yards per game last season, with 293 of those coming through the air. The secondary struggled at times with depth, a problem that adding Hale can help solve.
In addition, the cornerback's commitment to Arizona gives the Wildcats one more explosive playmaker on defense. The Wildcats already have a combination of David Price, Devin Holiday, and Babiash joining this season in addition to numerous other secondary players who are already on the Arizona roster.
The 3-3-5 defense allows for multiple speedy safeties and corners to be on the field at the same time. Having Hale and Babiash at opposite sides of the field won't give opposing quarterbacks much room to work with.
The senior also gives Arizona a toughness on defense that it has been missing over the past few years. Hale likes to hit and he hits hard. The 5-foot-11, 170-pounder excels in coverage, but can easily get to the line of scrimmage and stop a ball carrier in his tracks.
The implications of the commitment also go deeper than the contributions that Hale can make on the field.
Many recruits that play with each other in high school or against each other in camps often become friends, or at the least, grow to respect each other. Hale is one of the top secondary players on the West Coast and has a network with other players in the region.
Hale will no doubt turn his commitment into the recruitment of other high-profile recruits that are already interested in Arizona. Players want to win and the best way to do that is to have talented teammates.
The commitment gives Arizona twelve talented players in its 2014 class, with only thirteen spots remaining. Now that Hale is on board, those thirteen scholarships are looking that much better to the remaining recruits on Arizona's list.