Rich Rodriguez Discusses his 2016 Class

By Cuyler Meade

Arizona football coach Rich Rodriguez was typically animated as he discussed the impact of National Letter of Intent Day on the Wildcats, but perhaps the topic that got him the most excited was the signing of a player he hadn’t even known existed less than a week ago.

Shawn Poindexter, a 6-foot-6 wide receiver from Centennial via Glendale Community College, popped onto Rodriguez’s radar only a couple of days ago.

“That was a quick one!” Rodriguez said. “Let’s see, I was watching film yesterday with the offensive coaches and we were looking for some size at wide-out and for some reason somebody mentioned his name and said, ‘Hey there’s a 6-6 guy up the road’ and I said ‘really?’ And I said ok, what’s the story and we got the background and made some calls, talked to the kid and then in the space of three hours it went from I don’t know who the hell he was and then he’s about ready to sign with Arizona.”

The big wide out was also the only Phoenix-area recruit for the Wildcats, something Rodriguez was particularly fired up about in spite of being generally upbeat about his signing class.

“I’d like to get all the best players in the state of Arizona to come to Arizona,” Rodriguez said. “We’re still going to recruit them. I get frustrated because a lot are telling us no, but we get some to visit. But I think they all should come.

“It’s frustrating that some of them won’t even visit, but that’s their choice. But we’re still going to recruit them. We’re still going to make them tell me no. I’m never going to stop recruiting the state of Arizona first. I just wish more would look at Tucson and the U of A. I think they’d be pretty impressed if they just gave us a shot.”

Here are seven other things we learned from Rich Rod:

-Rodriguez sees Khalil Tate as a guy with a big ceiling.

“One of the things with Kahlil is we had the benefit of seeing him in person a couple of times,” Rodriguez said. “And I think that helped that part of it. Not just throwing, but his demeanor and his technique. He’s a willing runner, and sometimes when you’re a willing runner like that you get labeled as an athlete, but he can really throw it. I think his future is there. We’re going to have some pretty good competition (at the qb), and I think Khalil can play at that position.

-Michael Eletise looks like a pretty formidable force, and Rodriguez believes it’ll be in more ways than one.

“He’s a big physical strong guy. I think he can play guard, maybe center, maybe tackle. He can play all the positions, we don’t really look at that. but he’s a really good football player, tremendously strong, good feet, and a great young man. A great family, and I think he’s got the kind of temperament that he’s going to be a great leader in his class.”

-The biggest goal for Arizona was to get bigger defensively, and Rodriguez believes they accomplished that.

“What we needed to do was defensively we had to get bigger and more athletic and we did that on all three levels. And then offensively we had to get some size, and we had a little help with the skill positions, so all around it was a good recruiting class,” he said.

-That said, height isn’t the key factor in measuring size, as far as Rodriguez is concerned.

“Scooby (Wright) wasn’t very tall, probably 6-1, he’d tell you 6-2, but I’d take Scooby every year,” Rodriguez said. “You know, 6-2 to 6-4 is just that much. But those guys can grow into playing other positions. That’s the big thing for us – we have to have guys who can play multiple positions. That way you have more options with your class and more margin for error.”

-Rodriguez may have found his next impact ball carrier in Corona Centennial running back J.J. Taylor.

“He’s not small,” Rodriguez said of the 5-6 Taylor. “He’s short, but he’s not small, and there’s a difference there.

“I think a good way to find guys that are going to make a lot of plays in college is see who made a lot of plays in high school. Same as the pros. And J.J. Taylor made a lot of plays in high school.”

-Cam Denson will be moving from DB to wide receiver, a year after Davonte Neal made the opposite move.

“He said he’d be good in the slot, but we’re going to start him on the outside too,” Rodriguez said.

-Arizona won’t be holding a spring game, because Rodriguez doesn’t want one.