Lately, I've had the opportunity to talk to a lot of 2016 recruits. The questions are simple: what do you like about the program? What have the coaches told you? What's the difference between Arizona and other schools on your list?
Most of those answers revolve around one thing; the coaches. Almost every recruit has an answer that talks about how supportive this coaching staff is. They say it's a family feeling. When they're with the coaches they feel comfortable and wanted.
This makes sense when you think about the commitments of recent recruits. Sean Riley unofficially visited campus with Keyshawn Johnson's 7 on 7 group on March 23rd, he was offered that day, and committed on the spot. Justin Holt attended Junior Day on March 7th, he later committed that day. Jabari Watson committed just a few days ago without taking a single step on campus. Rich Rod always said he's had difficulty getting guys, even in-state guys, to visit the campus. But when they get them to visit, good things happen, as seen above.
Now, it might be the top of the line facilities, the weather, campus, or the talk of the rising program, but the coaching staff is what all the recruits are talking about. Here are just a few quotes from guys I've talked to over the past few months.
"Coach Ragle is the most encouraging coach I have ever met, and Coach Dudek is my guy. Dudek is so funny and really goes out of his way to make me feel welcomed and wanted." - Michael Eletise, offensive guard, 2016
"They're a great program with a great staff, and after meeting the entire staff a main thing that stuck out to me is how close they are. They aren't a coaching staff, they called themselves a family and the comfortability I felt when I was around them was great." - London Iakopo, safety, 2016
"I picked Arizona because the coaches really show love there." - Orlando Bradford, running back commit, 2015
"It's the best. I felt at home when I stepped on the field and I love Coach Casteel." - Calvin Tubbs, linebacker, 2016
"The way the coaching staff stayed on me, talking to me. I just had a great connection with them. I hit it off with them from the get-go."- Jabari Watson, defensive tackle commit, 2016
In this day and age, it's hard to keep your coaching staff together, especially with so much movement in college football and better opportunities that arise. But in spring practice, Rich Rodriguez has said that these coaches get the big picture and they understand what they can do with this program.
Rich Rodriguez has done incredible things for Arizona over the last three years with recruiting classes ranked outside the top 25. He and his staff know how to inspire their kids and get the most of them - getting them to play up to whole new level of development.
Arizona doesn't come out with new uniform combinations every season, they've never been in the top 25 consistently, and they've never been to a Rose Bowl in program history, but that's all changing with Rich Rodriguez and his staff.