Chris Merrill has all of the qualities a coach would want in a defensive tackle. He has the strength to be effective as a run stopper, he has the speed and tenacity to get after the quarterback but more importantly is he has a non stop motor. The one thing he doesn't have is "prototypical" division-one size.
That did not scare away the University of Arizona. They saw past the size "limitation" and offered the 6-2 260 pounder from Sagauro High School in Scottsdale, AZ. And it didn't take long for Merrill to decide that he wanted to be a Wildcat. Merrill told Scout.com that he committed to Coach Stoops and UofA today on an unofficial visit.
Merrill says, "I had been talking to the coaches through Coach Sanders (Saguaro head coach) and set up an unofficial visit for me and my family. We really enjoyed everything. I was impressed. I felt welcome. I am pleased with the way the program is going. I liked everything about it, it's a great fit. It is close to home. I just liked everything about it."
Merrill says that he is happy that the recruiting process is over. He notes, "It is stressful. I am looking forward to my senior year and helping my team repeat. It is nice to have the pressure off my back."
Merrill was a terror on both sides of the ball last year. He was named 1st team all 4A as an OL and 1st team all region on both sides of the ball. He recorded 73 tackles and 21 sacks from his defensive end position. But he says the coaches plan on moving him inside to either nose tackle or defensive tackle. He was asked if he felt comfortable with the move and he stated, "Yes. I need to take some reps to get adapted but it gives me a chance to hit someone in the mouth on every play."
He says he has been a Wildcat fan since he was young, stating, "I liked to watch them. I didn't have cable until I was 15 but once I got cable I watched as many games as I could."
Chris says that his family is very happy for him. "They spent a lot of time behind the scenes. They are really pleased for me."
Merrill is unsure of what he wants to major in. "I'm going to get all of the courses I need to get done done and go from there" he states.
Merrill believes he will be okay academically saying, "I should be fine. I am retaking a class in summer school and another one next year. I'll be fine to meet the NCAA requirements." He has not taken the SAT or ACT yet.
Arizona is getting a player with a great motor and with great strength. Watch his tape and that is obvious. He goes both ways and will flat out get after the quarterback and is a big time finisher on the offensive side of the ball. Here is his footage: