Winning the Pac-12 South, an appearance in the Vizio Fiesta Bowl. The 2014 season has brought a lot of momentum to Rich Rodriguez and the Arizona Wildcats program.
So how is it translating to their upcoming 2015 recruiting class as Signing Day approaches? ESPN National Recruiting Director Tom Luginbill says they did great focusing on areas of definite need to continue to stay among the conference’s elite.
“What I think they have done is a great job addressing their offensive and defensive fronts,” Luginbill told Sports360AZ.com. “When you look at this class, you look at the top three to five to six guys and they are all trench players on either side of the football. That is important to me because that is where I think championships are won and lost and the difference between the good and he great.”
Two of the faces of their 2015 class are each four-star prospects in offensive tackle out of Chaparral High School Keenan Walker, who is considered by many the top at his position on the west coast, as well as JUCO transfer out of Oakland, defensive end Anthony Fotu.
The defensive side has improved over the last three seasons under Coach Rod but still after this past season is an area that could use improvement from a skill and more importantly, a depth stand point. Luginbill saw that first hand.
“Having broadcaster a U of A game this year, there are a lot of improvements that need to be made on the defensive side of the football,” Luginbill explained. “In size, in athleticism, in depth. So I think those are areas where they recognized and have addressed because when you look at the bulk of this class, it’s a very lopsided class on the defensive side of the football and with guys that we would term to be athlete type players that could play on either side of the football once they get them into the fold and decide what they want to do with them.”
The Wildcats have made a very good presence in their own state of Arizona, but also states like Lousiana and other recruiting hot beds around the country. But there is one that has been and will continue to be the most integral for their success.
“If you go back to the Dick Tomey era and look at those defensive teams and look at where those players where from, they were California kids,” Luginbill mentioned. “So you look at where the skill is coming from like Anthony Mariscal, he’s a corner out of Bakersfield, California, Cedric Peterson is a wide receiver out of Moreno Valley, California. That’s where they are spending the bulk of their time to upgrade skill, to upgrade speed, and more than anything too, if you look at their front seven, upgrading size.”
Recruiting sites look at the 2015 class and evaluate most of them being around three star prospects. Some are a higher, some are lower, but in Rodriguez’s career, he has made those stars look irrelevant with how he and his coaching staff have developed his talent. Case in point, Scooby Wright aka “Two-Star Scoob” who won quite a bit or hardware at the linebacker position this season.
“Rich Rod has proven that he can evaluate and he can develop,” Luginbill said. “They will take someone as you mentioned who is a good high school player and make him a much better player at the collegiate level. I think he is one of the best offensive coaches in all of college football.”
Luginbill went on to mention that Arizona is doing it all right to set themselves up for the best prospects possible from what they have been able to do both on and off the field.
“What U of A did with their stadium and in the end zone, I think that came at the exact right time to upgrade their status amongst prospects,” Luginbill stated. “And you know what, wins cure all woes and I think for them to have the season they had on the field, it’s going to pay future dividends down the road in recruiting.”
Arizona will name a whole new batch of members of their program as part of their class of 2015 on February 4th.