The 2016 recruiting class was a roller coaster for the Arizona Wildcats coaching staff. We saw decommitments all throughout the process, and the post-season coaching change also had an impact.
Sean Riley, Devon Modster, Markell Utsey, Jake Burton, Trevor Speights, Jabari Watson, London Iakopo, Tyliek Raynor, and Kapri Doucet all ended up decommitting throughout the process, opening up the recruiting class, leaving Arizona scrambling to assemble a class that shaped up nicely all things considered.
@Gabe_Encinas New comers most likely to contribute this year and any hints you have on the new defense. Thanks— FakeBruceGriffin (@FakeBruceGriff) April 2, 2016
I will get to the second half of the question in a later post, so stay tuned for that.
So now let's take a look and see who has the best chance a contributing this season in their first year. Below is the entire 2016 recruiting class.
Going down the list, there are quite a few that catch my eye.
The first will be Chacho Ulloa. The coaching staff said that they will rely on the incoming freshmen in the secondary to help bolster the defense and Ulloa is the most talented safety of the group, a borderline 4-star prospect ranked 22nd among all safeties in the nation. The new coaching staff beat out Notre Dame and scooped him up after he decommitted from Stanford. Safeties in the class will be key, so it also wouldn't be surprising if Gavin Robertson or Tristan Cooper got some looks as well.
Next is Josh Allen, the 6-foot-4, 260lb defensive end out of Long Beach City College. While his recruiting process was a headache to follow, he ended up signing with Arizona after decommitting. He sat out this past season at LBCC in order to gain another year of eligibility, but he was still able to practice with the team, keeping him in rhythm. Given the current state of the defensive line, you'd figure that he gets a good look early, especially with Anthony Fotu out for the first six weeks.
Kahi Neves could be an interesting case. He graduated high school early and is already on campus, going through his first spring practice. He was working with the second team this spring, so maybe he has a chance at seeing the field as a true freshman. I wouldn't count on seeing him this season, but he certainly has a better shot than most.
With Jarvis McCall and Kwesi Mashack moving over to safety, there isn't a whole lot of depth at corner. That's where Isaiah Hayes could come in, who enrolled early and joined the team for spring practice. Not a lot was said about him this spring, but he still has all of summer and fall to make a move on the depth chart.
I talked about Nick Wilson and his health concerns going forward. Orlando Bradford should be a guy who splits a lot of the carries with him, with Arizona having to go to a third running back at times. Come this fall, that spot might be up in the air. You can have Branden Leon or Zach Green at that spot, or a slot receiver to come in and take some carries. But there's also JJ Taylor, who has a pretty decent shot at seeing the field as a true freshman. He'll have to pick up the offense pretty fast, but he would be more a specialty back, coming in for certain plays.
It's no secret that Arizona is lacking size at wide receiver. After Trey Griffey, who stands in at 6-foot-3, the next tallest projected rotation receivers would be Cam Denson and Tony Ellison, both 5-foot-11. Arizona will be using four receivers (Nate Phillips, Samajie Grant, Tyrell Johnson, Shun Brown) who check in under 5-foot-9. This is where Shawn Poindexter will come in, the Glendale CC transfer who is 6-foot-6. He's had eligibility issues enrolling at Cal Baptist for volleyball out of high school. Because of that, he now only has two years to play two but he's appealing to get four years to play three.