University of Arizona Coach Mike Stoops and staff have managed to put together a strong recruiting class that is currently ranked 14th in the nation By Scout.com The Wildcats followed a formula of hitting comforts zones such as Texas and pulling in some of the top talent in Arizona, along with making strong progress in California. Add to this list a solid group of juco transfers and it makes for an increased talent pool for the Wildcats.
Offense: The Wildcats addressed needs on the offensive line. By signing six linemen. Ironwood Ridge's Daniel Borg (24-7 1st team all-state) and Centennial's Jordan Lowe (24-7 1st team all-state) are the in state representatives. Eben Britton of California, Joe Barresi of Oklahoma and Blake Kerley of Texas round out the freshmen group of O linemen. It would be beneficial for this group to redshirt as they prepare for Pac 10 play. Of the offensive linemen look for Juco transfer Adam Hawes to come in and play right away at one of the tackle positions.
The skill position recruits highlight some great young talent along with juco players that could step in and contribute right away. At the outset of this past season 24-7 had Centennial's Terry Longbons and Sunnyside's Xavier Smith as the top two backs in Arizona. Both players were hampered by injuries that not only slowed them but also their teams' aspirations for state titles. If Longbons can overcome his history of nagging injuries, his combination of strength and speed could be a real asset to the Wildcats in a year or two. Xavier Smith is the type of hard nosed player coach Stoops loves to have. Both bring speed and a willingness to run between the tackles and both should grow into good pass catchers out of the backfield. UofA was extremely excited to land Stockton, California QB Willie Tuitama. 6'3 215 pound Tuitama is ranked as one of the top QBs in the nation based on his mix of a strong throwing arm and mobility. Along with his athletic skill, Tuitama brings a great football pedigree in that he is the nephew of UofA assistant Mike Tuiasasopo and led his team to its first championship last year. Of the skill players, the recruit most needed to make an impact next year is Santa Monica, California Community College transfer B.J. Vickers. At 6'3 210 Vickers has a strong presence at wideout that the Wildcats lacked last season.
Defense: On defense the Wildcats shored themselves up in multiple positions. Bringing in players who will have immediate impact and talented young players who will excel once they mature. Byron Smith's long and winding road to Tucson should finally come to an end. Look for the 6'2 290 pound DT to start and bring his strong presence to the middle of the Cats D. Another Juco transfer who should get playing time next season is NJCAA 1st All–American DB Michael Johnson. Johnson has the ability to play multiple positions and will bring his physical play to the secondary. Along with these older players, the Wildcats landed one of the most lauded groups of defensive youngsters in the nation. Brandon Dunbar, from Ft. Worth, Texas is listed as the 14th best safety in the nation. Michael Shelton of Compton, California is the 16th rated defensive end in the nation. At 6'4 227 Shelton will need to add weight, but he brings extreme athletic ability to the rush end position. Adrian McCovey of Lakewood California was the 29th ranked linebacker in the nation and brings a nice mix of instincts and quickness.
Evaluation: Coach Stoops and crew did a great job recruiting this class. It is a nice mix of extremely talented young players who may need time and older players who will have an immediate impact. Further, the class may be the prototype of the Stoops recruiting plan. The Wildcats did well bringing in top Arizona athletes while maintaining success in familiar territory such as Texas. One of Coach Stoops' primary goals was making in roads in California. The recruitment of Tuitama, Vickers, Hawes, Shelton and McCovey went well beyond in roads.