Despite the late decommitments from the Arizona Wildcats’ 2017 recruiting class, the top-ranked player, running back Nathan Tilford, held firm, and also enrolled at the University in the spring to get a jump start on his college career.
Even if he had not shown up in Tucson until the fall, it’s likely that his talent and size would have allowed him to be in the Arizona backfield in his first year anyway, but these first 15 practices will be huge in his immediate development.
“He’s a guy that loves football, graduated early so he could get here and get spring practice,” Rich Rodriguez said of his running back recruit after the team’s spring showcase. “He’s just got the right approach. He’s got a lot to learn, but coach (Calvin) Magee will get him ready and he’ll have a great career I think.”
“He’s eager to learn,” Zach Green added about his position-mate. “He’s just ready to play, and he’s always coming in and asking us about information and stuff like that, so he can’t wait.”
“He’s gonna be a monster, no doubt about it,” J.J. Taylor continued.
When Arizona fans get their first look at Tilford, the thing that’s going to stand out above all else is his size, most notably his height. Tilford is listed at 6-foot-2, a full four inches taller than any other running back on the roster.
“He’s a big back for sure. It’s a sight to see I’ll tell ya. It’s quite different,” Arizona linebacker Brandon Rutt explained. “You gotta go for the thighs against him, but he’s done pretty good. I went up against him a couple times this scrimmage and he did very good, so I think he’s gonna be a great add for us as a running back.”
“I think it’s his length and his power,” Green said about Tilford’s biggest strengths. “You guys might not see it now but he has a lot of power; kids just slide off him in practice so I can’t wait to see him actually do that.”
“He’s a big running back and he can bring a lot of power to the offense,” Shun Brown added. “I feel like he’s gonna be a good player.”
“In the South,” Brown joked about if he’s seen running backs at that height. “But here, not really. Most of the running backs are like 5-11 ya know, but I’ve seen a lot of 6-2 running backs.”
“But he’s one of those backs that’s 6-2 and you better get out the way.”