The Arizona Wildcats announced their early period signing class on Wednesday. With those 20 players now on board we’re able to get a better idea of the bigger picture when it comes to where Arizona stands within the Pac-12 and on a national level.
We’re also able to accurately assess the talent Arizona has signed and see where it can go from here. There are the building blocks of Kevin Sumlin’s future and here I’ll run through some pros and cons of this 2019 recruiting class.
Pro: Arizona continues to add size
There is a huge difference in this class compared to previous ones when it comes to size. At the Early Signing Period press conference, Arizona had all 20 signees listed at 6-foot or taller
Rich Rodriguez received a lot of criticism for his lack of size in recruiting. This is fair when you consider that receiver, running back and defensive back were three position groups that he loaded up on but were ignored when it came to size.
It seemed that both offensive and defensive lines were entirely ignored, and the guys who came in had a range of problems including academics, character, injuries or just guys who didn’t pan out. That led to an anemic offensive line and plenty of walk-ons playing defensive line.
Sumlin is getting Arizona in position to overpower opponents.
Con: Position changes on defense
When Arizona released their film room breakdowns and position group graphics for its signees, I was left with a lot of questions.
Three-star athlete Chris Roland has always been interesting. Based off his film, he is Cam Denson 4.0 at wide receiver, and to me it’s his best position. He also has a lot of safety film, but that position is deep at Arizona and it would be a disservice for him to play there. He’s listed at corner and to me just that doesn’t make sense, which leads to the next question.
Arizona officially announced Bobby Wolfe as a safety. It doesn’t make sense to move a such a prolific talent away from his main position, cornerback, and one that is of need for Arizona. He could probably start at spur, but there is so much talent among the safety group that his overall impact would be felt much more at corner.
The last one was Kwabena Watson, who is now listed as a defensive end. I see him as a pure pass rusher off the edge at stud. He has a very unique combination of speed and power at 6-foot-3, 225 pounds that could be better utilized as a stand up rusher.
If only I ruled the world.
Pro: Arizona hits Texas and continues to land Polynesians
Arizona fans wanted to get back into Texas after seeing the success Mike Stoops had there. In comes Sumlin with his Texas ties and he brings in eight from the Lone Star State.
Texas has a whole lot of football passion and talent. The top guys will be playing for powerhouse national programs, not to mention the five Power Five programs in the state. There’s also some respectable Group of Five programs in Texas, meaning it could be hard to pull guys out.
Arizona’s three highest-ranked prospects come from Houston, with Wolfe, Jalen Curry and Grant Gunnell. Also from Houston is Michael Wiley, who I had as one of my three underrated prospects of this class. Other Texans include junior college linemen Josh Donovan and Trevon Mason, as well as Kane Bradford and Derrion Clark.
Fans have also been wanting to bring back the Polynesian pipeline. In the previous class Arizona landed two Polys, Nahe Sulunga and Donovan Laie. Arizona adds two more huge ones, defensive tackle Myles Tapusoa at 6-foot-3, 325 pounds and stud Eddie Siaumau at 6-foot-3, 225 pounds.
Both of these guys are I think will contribute immediately next season.
Con: No presence in the state of Arizona
The Wildcats signed zero top 30 recruits from their own state. Meanwhile Arizona State pulled in five and California, thanks to former UA assistant Charlie Ragle, hauled in six.
Arizona has two in-state prospects overall; the local kid, offensive tackle Jordan Morgan from Marana and punter Kyle Ostendorp from Desert Vista in Phoenix.
You have to do better at keeping talent in the state. There is so much local talent and you can see it when Nebraska, Texas, USC and Washington constantly sign guys from here.
It’s hard to compete with these schools consistently, but it seems like this staff, and the last, made no effort with in-state guys.
2020 is littered with talent, perhaps the most elite group the state has ever seen. Sumlin and his staff need to get after it.
Pro: Winning recruiting battles
The offer lists got better in this recruiting class. Another complaint towards Rodriguez’s recruiting was that they were usually going up against Air Force, Fresno State, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah State for prospects with an occasional Pac-12 foe mixed in.
The three high-end Houston guys turned down programs like Alabama, LSU and Ohio State and many others held strong offers too.
Watson had Ole Miss, Oregon and USC offers. Jaxen Turner had half the Pac-12 interested in him. Maurice Gaines had just about every Big 12 school pursuing him. Jamari Williams had over 25-plus offers including multiple SEC schools. Paiton Fears had Baylor, Missouri and West Virginia to choose from.
The staff held off a lot of Pac-12 powers as well. Tapusoa landed a late Oregon offer. Chris Roland flirted with USC and was bound to flip. Morgan ultimately turned down USC to stay home.
We saw the staff winning some battles in the 2017 and 2016, but those classes were eventually pulled apart. Now you’re hopeful that Arizona can kick down more doors and win even more battles.
Con: Arizona will likely drop in the rankings
Arizona has a group of 20 signees that rank 47th in the nation and seventh in the Pac-12, oddly right on par with Rodriguez, which is underwhelming.
In Rodriguez’s six classes he ranked sixth, seventh, ninth, ninth, 10th and 11th in the Pac-12 and 44th, 31st, 43rd, 48th, 45th and 60th nationally, respectively.
The only problem is that Arizona isn’t likely to add more to this class, meanwhile there are other programs creeping right behind that do still have room in their class.
Both UCLA and Colorado are a commit or two away from jumping Arizona in the Pac-12 rankings and Utah can also finish strong, which could leave the Wildcats could be as low as 10th, and around 53rd in the nation.
Some will find that disappointing, and rankings are a great selling point for a program, but they can be so arbitrary that it’s easy to get sucked into ranking biases.
I give this class a solid B, and fans really key in on recruiting rankings but as we see with this class, and Rodriguez’ previous classes, these rankings are not nearly as accurate for mid-their programs as they are for the ones at the top.