Aside from beating their in-state rivals to close out the year, 2016 was a complete loss for the Arizona Wildcats.
The team went 3-9 and failed to reach a bowl game for the first time since Rich Rodriguez joined the program. Fans and coaches still had hope for the future, with a star studded recruiting class coming in 2017. Rodriguez even went so far as to call it the best recruiting class Arizona ever had.
Unfortunately, that's fading too.
Prized four-star recruit Braxton Burmeister has decommitted, choosing Oregon and new head coach Willie Taggart instead. This comes a little over a month after Greg Johnson decommitted, possibly to follow former Wildcats cornerback coach Donte Williams to Nebraska. This leaves Arizona with just one major recruit in four-star running back Nathan Tilford.
Losing their top QB prospect hurts even more when considering that Anu Solomon, fourth on the school's all-time passing list, is transferring to Baylor. Brandon Dawkins, who took the starting job during Solomon's injury, and Khalil Tate are now atop the depth chart.
Arizona still has Rich's son Rhett Rodriguez coming in the 2017 recruiting class. He's a three-star prospect that took his team to the state finals this past season, and has spent plenty of time in the film room with his dad. His long standing relationship with the coach should give him a real shot at starting, as he'll learn the offense quickly working under a coach he's already familiar with. Rhett has been committed to Arizona for over a year now, and seems unlikely to switch.
The Wildcats are looking for a prospect to take Burmeister's place. The biggest name linked to them so far is Nick Tronti, a two-star prospect that is currently committed to Charlotte, but has a number of offers from teams like Hawaii and Marshall.
Tronti earned the title of Mr. Football in Florida last season after taking his team to the state finals in the top division. He's a talented dual-threat quarterback with plenty of athleticism, but he's still a dropoff from Burmeister. If Tronti does change his commitment and comes to Arizona, there's no guarantee he'll get a chance to start right away, if at all, unless he develops further at the position.
A deeper look still shows a solid recruiting class for Arizona. Aside from Tilford, they have several three-star defensive players coming in, and three-star tight ends Bryce Wolma and Bryce Gilbert joining on offense (although they will likely be redshirts their first year).
Arizona fans never had anything to cheer for this season. As long as one of their established quarterbacks steps up (or a lower-rated incoming freshman develops quickly), the Wildcats should make it back to a bowl.