NCF On The Trail: Arizona Wildcats

Altanta Elite 11 regional camp notebook 

March, 21, 2014
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SUGAR HILL, Ga. -- Several talented quarterbacks took the field at the Atlanta Elite 11 regional camp on Friday. Though no official invites for the Elite 11 finals, held in Beaverton, Ore. in July, were extended, there were five finalists with potential to eventually earn an invite. The finalists included Anthony Ratliff, Austin King, Kendall Hinton, Ross Trail and Alex Malzone. Four of the five finalists were from out-of-state. King is from Alpharetta, Ga.


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Top position classes: Pac-12 

February, 27, 2014
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With national signing day in the books, RecruitingNation is looking at the top position classes in each conference. For the full series, click here.

Quarterback
Not only did the Arizona Wildcats sign a top-25 class in 2014, but did so while addressing several needs. Arizona signed a pair of quarterbacks in the class in four-star Brandon Dawkins (Westlake Village, Calif./Oaks Christian) and three-star junior college prospect Jerrard Randall (Hollywood, Fla./Northeast Mississippi Community College), with both being dual threats who fit Rich Rodriguez’s scheme. Randall, a former LSU recruit, is already on campus and is expected to challenge for the starting spot in the spring with a skill set that features a very strong arm and well-above-average athleticism for the position.


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Top position classes: QBs 

February, 10, 2014
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With national signing day in the books, RecruitingNation is looking at the top position classes. For the full series, click here.

Nationally (and SEC)
The Florida Gators had a major need at quarterback in the Class of 2014, and Will Muschamp and staff more than filled it, signing two of the nation’s top signal-callers. Third-ranked dual-threat prospect Will Grier (Davidson, N.C./Davidson Day School) is already on campus and preparing for spring practice, while No. 7 dual-threat prospect Treon Harris (Miami/Booker T. Washington) was a huge signing-day flip from Florida State. Both prospects are great athletes who are accustomed to operating uptempo offenses. This should also help newly hired offensive coordinator Kurt Roper, who will install a similar scheme in Gainesville.

The Gators had the nation's best QB class; here's which schools had the best in each of the remaining power conferences:


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Top 2015 targets: Pac-12 

February, 6, 2014
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After several of the top 10 West region recruits from the Class of 2014 got away from Pac-12 teams, the conference will look to clean that up with the 2015 group. It's off to a strong start, as the only two committed prospects among the top 10 are headed to UCLA and USC. The 2015 class in the West region is loaded and there will be huge commitments from any of the 52 ESPN Junior 300 prospects in the West, but there's no surprise that the top five Pac-12 targets are the top five uncommitted prospects in the region.


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Signing day wrap: Pac-12

February, 5, 2014
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While it was a terrific day for the Pac-12 overall, USC stole the signing day spotlight on Wednesday, hitting for the cycle in landing its top four targets.

The day began well for new coach Steve Sarkisian, as three-star cornerback Lamont Simmons (Jacksonville, Fla./Raines) faxed over his signature, but that was only an appetizer for the Trojans. With 19 scholarships available this year -- NCAA sanctions limited the Trojans to just 15 scholarships in this class and USC was able to roll four unused rides over from the 2013 class -- Simmons took the class to 16. Left on the board were a trio of Southern California ESPN 300 prospects in No. 9 overall prospect, cornerback Adoree' Jackson (Gardena, Calif./Serra), No. 24 overall prospect, athlete John "JuJu" Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Poly) and No. 67 overall prospect, offensive guard Damien Mama (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco).

[+] EnlargeJohn
Kelvin Kuo/USA TODAY SportsJohn "JuJu" Smith was part of a huge signing day for USC.
Sarkisian and the Trojans were able to land all three, giving USC one of the best signing days of any program in the country. The signings give USC 19 additions in the 2014 class, including nine ESPN 300 pledges, one ESPN JC 50 prospect and impact players on both sides of the ball. There is really no way to overstate how well Sarkisian and the Trojans closed on signing day, posting what amounted to a perfect day.

The Trojans wound up with the No. 1 class in the Pac-12, but the rankings in the conference were bunched at the top.

Stanford made a huge run late, landing commitments from all six recruits it targeted over the past two months. The Cardinal added signatures from ESPN 300 defensive end Solomon Thomas (Coppell, Tex./Coppell) -- at No. 25 overall, the highest rated Stanford addition since ESPN began its rankings in 2006 -- and three-star cornerback Terrence Alexander (River Ridge, La./John Curtis Christian). Though the Cardinal lost a late commitment from defensive end Uriah Leiataua (Compton, Calif./Dominguez), it was a very strong visit and a terrific class headed to the Farm.

Alexander wasn't the only recruit from John Curtis Christian to commit to the Pac-12, as Oregon and UCLA took their biggest commitments of the day from that program. The Ducks landed ESPN 300 safety Mattrell McGraw, while UCLA picked up its lone signing day commit in Kenny Young.

Oregon missed out on Smith and defensive tackle Trey Lealaimatafao (San Antonio/Earl Warren) but was able to land safety Khalil Oliver (Meridian, Id./Rocky Mountain) in a battle against Washington.

UCLA coaches will likely be disappointed with the day. Although the Bruins did reel in Young, UCLA missed on Thomas, No. 1 overall wide receiver Malachi Dupre (River Ridge, La./John Curtis Christian) and the Southern California trio, which made matters worse for Jim Mora & Co. by committing to the Trojans. UCLA brought a very good recruiting class into signing day and did a good job of holding onto everybody, but the Bruins took some big swings at some big prospects across the country and didn't get the results they were hoping for.

Arizona State slid a few spots in the national rankings, but the Sun Devils did everything they could on signing day. Todd Graham brought a relatively full class into the day and was able to add two huge signatures in ESPN JC 50 prospects defensive tackle Dalvon Stuckey (De Funiak Springs, Fla./Pearl River CC) and cornerback Kweishi Brown (El Cajon, Calif./Grossmont). The Sun Devils were also able to hold onto another junior college standout in wide receiver Eric Lauderdale (Fayetteville, Ga./Saddleback College), who received a significant late push from Florida.

Arizona was relatively quiet. The Wildcats brought in a huge list of verbal commitments and didn't lose anybody off the top of the class, landing five ESPN 300 prospects. Defensive tackle Marcus Griffin (Bellevue, Wash./Bellevue) was the big addition, as the big lineman selected Arizona over Cal, Mississippi State and Washington State.

Oregon State grabbed a signature from offensive guard Kammy Delp (Pomona, Calif./Diamond Ranch), who will play defensive tackle for the Beavers. Utah announced defensive tackle Lowell Lotulelei (South Jordan, Utah/Bingham) as a part of this class after he attempted to sign with the Utes in 2013.

Washington's big addition came Tuesday night in the form of ESPN 300 safety Bishard "Budda" Baker (Bellevue, Wash./Bellevue), but Chris Petersen and the Huskies also received a signing day commitment from intriguing 6-foot-5 receiver Brayden Lenius (West Hills, Calif./Chaminade). The Washington State Cougars closed with their second four-star commitment in this class, safety Deion Singleton (Paco, Wash./Chiawana).

But the day in the West belonged to USC, which jumped from No. 4 in the conference to landing the Pac-12's top 2014 recruiting class. Nationally, the Trojans moved from No. 24 to No. 15 overall.

Stanford (15th), Arizona State (21st) and Arizona (23rd) all finished among the top 25 recruiting classes in the nation.

Pac-12 class rankings analysis 

January, 29, 2014
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In the final updated ESPN recruiting class rankings before national signing day, six Pac-12 schools remain among the top 40 classes in the country, and all are within striking distance of claiming the top spot in the conference. Arizona State remains No. 1 in the conference and No. 17 in the nation, and Stanford made a big jump for the second straight week, moving to No. 2 in the Pac-12 and No. 19 overall. Arizona slid one spot with Stanford's move, checking in at No. 21, and USC and Oregon remain tightly bunched at Nos. 24 and 25, respectively. UCLA rounds out the group from the Pac-12 at No. 28.


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Most important targets: Pac-12 

January, 28, 2014
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With only eight days before national signing day, it truly is crunch time for coaches and recruits alike for the 2014 class. In the Pac-12 especially, a number of spots remain available in a majority of classes. This week, we take a look at the most important uncommitted target for each conference program.

Arizona: DT Marcus Griffin (Bellevue, Wash./Bellevue)
6-2, 299 pounds
Three-star prospect

The Wildcats jumped into the process late for Griffin but made enough of an impression that the big lineman took an official visit to Tucson last weekend. Griffin will announce on signing day from a group that consists of Arizona, Cal, Mississippi State and Washington State. While the Wildcats have a full class at this point, it looks as though they'd like to add one more big body along the defensive line and Griffin is one of the top defensive tackles in the region, regardless of commitment status.


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Key recruiting visits -- Pac-12 

January, 24, 2014
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Just two weekends of official visits remain before signing day, so it's no surprise that just about every Pac-12 program will have visitors on campus this weekend. It's a huge opportunity for USC, which will have arguably it's most important host weekend of the recruiting calendar. Other programs will have a few recruits on hand in hopes of making a big splash the following weekend. While every visit is big at this stage of the game, here are a look at 10 of the most important for the Jan. 24 weekend:

1. ATH John "JuJu" Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Poly)
Visiting: USC


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Pac-12 class rankings analysis 

January, 22, 2014
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With just two weeks until signing day, this week's updated class rankings illustrate just how close the gap is between the top teams in the Pac-12. Arizona State again checks in at No. 1 in the conference and now sits at No. 17 in the nation. Behind the Sun Devils, five more Pac-12 teams are within 10 places, as Arizona is No. 20, USC is No. 22, Stanford is No. 23, Oregon is No. 24 and UCLA rounds out the Pac-12 entrants at No. 27.

Trending up: Stanford


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Key recruiting visits -- Pac-12 

January, 17, 2014
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The recruiting dead period is over, and it's full speed ahead for a number of Pac-12 programs as coaches look to load up on official visitors over the next three weekends. A list of important official visitors for Pac-12 programs this weekend could easily extend to two or even three dozen names, so limiting it to just the top 10 was challenging -- though likely not as difficult as the task facing conference coaches looking to wrap up their recruiting classes as national signing day approaches.

1. CB Kweishi Brown (El Cajon, Calif./Grossmont College) visiting Arizona State. The ESPN Junior College 50 cornerback made an early commitment to Arkansas but pulled away from that as more Pac-12 programs expressed interest. Brown, the nation's No. 3 juco cornerback, will be at Arizona State as part of a huge group of official visitors and will be one of the main targets committed quarterback Manny Wilkins (Novato, Calif./San Marin) sets his sights on this weekend.


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Midyear signings: Arizona adds four more

January, 15, 2014
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According to ArizonaWildcats.com, coach Rich Rodriguez has welcomed four more recruits to his program for the spring semester, joining the six prospects who signed in December. The new additions are:

Jonathan Haden RB Washington/Friendship Collegiate
HT: 5-8 WT: 185
Positional Rank: #21 RB
Stars: 4

T.J. Johnson ATH Cape Coral, Fla./Milford Academy
HT: 5-8 WT: 165
Positional Rank: N/A Post-grad
Stars: 4

Michael Unzicker K Palmetto, Fla./Palmetto
HT: 6-2 WT: 175
Positional Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Freddie Tagaloa OT Richmond, Calif./University of California, Berkeley
HT: 6-8 WT: 330

Pac-12 class rankings analysis 

January, 15, 2014
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video Not only are there six Pac-12 programs in the updated class rankings, all six are among the top 30 in the country. Arizona State still has the conference's top class at No. 16 overall, while Arizona checks in at No. 20. Oregon and USC are back-to-back at Nos. 23 and 24, after the Ducks rose two places and the Trojans three. UCLA is a close No. 5 in the conference at No. 26 overall. The Bruins were the biggest risers among all schools this week, jumping seven places to overtake Stanford, which checks in at No. 6 in the Pac-12 and No. 29 overall.

Trending up: UCLA


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If a program runs a high-concept scheme on defense, cornerback can be the most difficult position to make the leap from high school to college, aside from quarterback of course. Rarely do prospects face a player across from him who is bigger, faster or quicker in high school and they just don’t get challenged very often, which is why it can be very difficult to project the success of cornerbacks in college. Also, many players are not devoted to playing corner fulltime and must become acclimated through reps and experience to maximize their ceiling for production. Here are our top five cornerbacks and a comparable productive player for each at the collegiate level.


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One week after committing to Arizona during the 2014 Under Armour All-America Game, the nation’s No. 15-ranked prospect Jalen Tabor (Washington, D.C./Friendship Collegiate Academy) has had a change of heart.

[+] EnlargeJalen Tabor
Miller Safrit/ESPNJalen Tabor will enroll early and join the Gators for spring practice.
According to Tabor’s mother, Merri Tabor, the versatile 6-foot-1, 188-pound defensive back has flipped his pledge to the Florida Gators.

“It’s definitely correct, Jalen will be a Florida Gator,” Marie Tabor said via text. “Final decision.”

The Gators will also get Tabor on campus in Gainesville and enrolled by Monday his mother said.

Tabor took official visits to Maryland, Arizona, Florida and Alabama before trimming his list to the Tide and Wildcats prior to his announcement on Jan. 2.

The commitment to Arizona came as a surprise to many, even though teammate and close friend Jonathan Haden is also committed to the Wildcats.

Tabor was a standout throughout the week of Under Armour All-America practices, and during the game as well. He is the No. 5-ranked cornerback prospect in the 2014 class.

With Tabor, the Gators now have 21 commitments in the 2014 class. He joins 11 other ESPN 300 commits in the glass and is also one of 16 four-star prospects that Florida will welcome to Gainesville in this class.
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Half of the Pac-12 remains among the top 40 recruiting classes in the newly-released ESPN recruiting rankings. In order, Arizona, Arizona State, Oregon, USC, Stanford and UCLA represent the conference after a big week on the recruiting trail for virtually all of those programs.

Trending up: Just about the entire Pac-12 gets a mention here, as Arizona State, Oregon, USC and UCLA all moved up in the team rankings. While Arizona still sits at No. 15, the Wildcats added two very important pieces in No. 15 overall prospect Jalen Tabor (Washington, D.C./Friendship Collegiate Academy) and ESPN offensive tackle Jordan Poland (La Jolla, Calif./La Jolla Country Day). Arizona State moved from No. 18 to No. 17, while Oregon jumped from No. 27 to No. 25 and USC moved from No. 31 to No. 27. Stanford held at No. 28, while UCLA used several commitments to climb one spot from No. 34 to No. 33 overall. Other Pac-12 programs, including Cal, Washington and Washington State, added recent commitments as well.

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