Last year, Rich Rodriguez led Arizona to 10 wins, and was primed to put the Arizona Wildcats on the map. All season long, he was winning with fairly average recruiting classes, which left most of us drooling at the thought of what he can do once Arizona starts benefiting from recruiting.
247Sports has a new nifty college football roster ranking, based on the ranking of the recruits, where the Wildcats check in at No. 43.
Now, a lot of Rich Rodriguez' recruits are being criticized for not developing, when in reality, a lot of these recruits have plenty of years of eligibility remaining after this season. Because they are so young, most people expect them to get exponentially better and that's just not the case for most guys.
There have been highly-rated 3-star and standout 4-star guys over the last few years that have come to Tucson, but not too many have exactly panned out. And that's okay. Most of his higher-ranked recruits still have plenty of eligibility remaining.
Sure, there have been some recruiting errors, to go along with the long list of talent that has either been dismissed or left the program for various reasons. That list includes: Jordan Poland, Javelle Allen, CJ Dozier, Pierre Cormier, Derek Babiash, Khari McGee, to name a few. These errors and mishaps are bound to happen to any program at any given time.
But then there are the "OKG's" that have come up and delivered. William Parks, Cody Ippolito, Trey Griffey, Jamar Allah, Anthony Lopez, all from the original 2012 class. And then in the 2013 class, there are guys who stepped up: Anu Solomon, Samajie Grant, Jacob Alsadek, Nate Phillips, Derrick Turituri, Jake Matthews, and Scooby Wright.
Also, it's hard to say that the 2014 class hasn't developed, and it is certainly hard to put a grade on their performance because they've only been in the system for one year, with many having four years of eligibility remaining after a redshirt season.
2015 freshman class
|Sharif Williams||Brandon Dawkins|
|Sammy Morrison||Marcus Griffin|
|Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles||Jamardre Cobb|
|Orlando Bradford||Marquis Ware|
|Shun Brown||Layth Friekh|
But to be perfectly honest, Rich Rodriguez hasn't had enough time to recruit the depth that people have been asking for. His first year here, Arizona was coming off a 4-8 season. He managed to go 8-5 in his first season, with a pretty brutal schedule looking back at it. Another 8-5 season in 2013, and things were starting to seem pretty promising. Two back-to-back 8-win seasons started showing recruits that he was here to rebuild a program and bring it back to relevance in the Pac-12, and now we're starting to see some 2014 recruits flourish more than others, which had been his best class to this point.
This roster is lined with all of Rich Rodriguez' guys, with the exception of a few redshirt seniors on both sides of the ball. But now that the depth has been depleted, he's having to dig deep for bodies. And it's likely because he wasn't able to rake in top talent at the time.
Give Arizona a season or two. The 2014 recruiting class, as well as this current freshman class, and then Rich Rodriguez will have the suitable roster depth from top to bottom.
Transfer and Junior College guys like Paul Magloire, Josh Allen, and London Iakopo will come in. Younger guys -- Trevor Wood, Tyrell Johnson, DeAndre' Miller -- just need time. The big jump from year one to two, or even two to three can't happen to everyone.
Every year, depending on roster turnover, most coaches will expect their team to get better. And every year, there are teams that fall short of their expectations. Look at programs like Auburn and Oregon. Just five weeks into the season, both have been written off. They have been collecting 4 and 5-star talent since the turn of the decade, and they're nosediving this season faster than any program in the nation, once being ranked as top 15 teams.
Programs like Texas, Penn State, Miami, Nebraska -- traditional powerhouse programs -- haven't seen nearly the amount of success as the school, fans, and boosters would have envisioned, and they've been able to recruit some of the best talent from across the nation for years and years.
Is the lack of depth a major concern for Arizona right now? Certainly. But Rich Rod's best recruiting class to this point hasn't even developed. Fans might have gotten pretty greedy after winning the Pac-12 South, which took two miracle happenings vs. California and Washington. Development isn't going to happen overnight, and all these recruits need is a little more time to develop and build something great at Arizona.