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Revisiting Arizona football’s 2016 recruiting class

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A pretty solid class with another year of contributions ahead

<span data-author="5158751">jj-taylor-arizona-wildcats-college-football-ap-all-american-all-purpose-running-back </span> Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images

During the bye week, we’re taking a look a back at each of the last four recruiting classes that still have players remaining on the current roster. First up was the 2015 class, now we’re going to take a look at 2016.

The class finished at 48th overall and 9th in the Pac-12. The class featured eight top-1000 players and two four-star prospects. This was one of the first classes where guys started to recruit others to come play with them at Arizona and many of the higher ranked prospects came late into the cycle.

2016 Recruiting Class

Name Position Height Weight Hometown 247 Sports Composite
Name Position Height Weight Hometown 247 Sports Composite
Michael Eletise OG 6-4 313 Honolulu, HI 4-star 189 overall
Khalil Tate ATH 6-2 203 Gardena, CA 4-star 214 overall
Chacho Ulloa S 6-0 190 Corona, CA 3-star 360 overall
Devaughn Cooper WR 5-10 171 Harbor City, CA 3-star 582 overall
Kahi Neves ATH 6-3 238 South Jordan, UT 3-star 700 overall
Isaiah Hayes CB 6-0 175 Calabasas, CA 3-star 758 overall
Jacob Colacion OLB 6-1 215 La Habra, CA 3-star 925 overall
Jalen Cochran OLB 6-4 235 Canton, MI 3-star 955 overall
JJ Taylor APB 5-6 155 Corona, CA 3-star 1089 overall
Bryson Cain OT 6-5 265 Temecula, CA 3-star 1135 overall
Gavin Robertson S 6-2 190 Auburn, WA 3-star 1150 overall
Justin Holt DT 6-0 295 Tuscon, AZ 3-star 1160 overall
Lorenzo Burns CB 5-10 160 Temecula, CA 3-star 1298 overall
Jarrius Wallace S 6-0 185 Marrero, LA 3-star 1715 overall
Shawn Poindexter WR 6-7 215 Glendale, AZ 3-star 231 overall (JUCO)
Tristan Cooper S 6-1 180 El Paso, TX 2-star 2251 overall
Francisco Nelson SDE 6-4 215 Lakeland, FL 2-star 3642 overall
Russell Halimon RB 5-10 185 Acworth, GA 3-star 644 overall

Who returns for 2019?

Arizona still has a good core of players that return for their fourth year in the program. Quarterback Khalil Tate leads the offense alongside J.J. Taylor, who are two of Arizona’s most important players.

Bryson Cain is the only other offensive member of the 2016 class, and he’ll likely serve as a swing backup on the offensive line and be one of the first guys up should the line need help.

There are a lot of members in the secondary from the 2016 class who return, including starters Tristan Cooper and Lorenzo Burns. Cooper has been a starter since he first stepped foot on campus, although he took a back seat to now Tennessee Titan Dane Cruikshank for one season. He’ll look to finish off his career with bang at spur.

Lorenzo Burns has played well during his time however there will be several guys behind him looking to take over the No. 2 spot.

There are two backups at safety that will look to play significant roles. Jarrius Wallace has been a steady free safety backup and has been mixed into the starting rotation. Chacho Ulloa has had a great offseason and looks to help alleviate the pressure from Christian Young at bandit.

Jalen Cochran has had a roller coaster of a career. He turned down Michigan State days before National Signing Day, ended up getting hurt and requiring surgery, he had announced he would transfer before deciding it was best to come back. Now he’ll play a key role on the defensive line as a versatile piece.

Who left the program?

  • Michael Eletise slowly made progress and cracked the starting lineup last season but decided to transfer back home to Hawaii.
  • Devaughn Cooper left the team after his first season for unknown reasons, worked his way back onto the team, battled some injuries and was just recently kicked out of the program this offseason and joined UTEP as a graduate transfer.
  • Kahi Neves was kicked off the team for violating team rules and ended up at Snow College and had been receiving offers this past season.
  • Safety Isaiah Hayes has decided to graduate transfer to Louisville.
  • Linebacker Jacob Colacion medically retired from football
  • Gavin Robertson ultimately did not want to play linebacker after converting from safety and left for Montana, where he has been an all-conference safety.
  • Defensive tackle Justin Holt battled injuries at Arizona and medically retired, bouncing around at Eastern Arizona, Pima and now Western New Mexico.
  • Defensive end Francisco Nelson got into some trouble at Arizona and left for Campbell University.
  • Running back Russell Halimon never made it to campus and did not appear to play football anywhere afterwards

Top players of the class

  1. J.J. Taylor has been a reliable running back since returning from his broken ankle he suffered his freshman year during a huge game against Washington. He has been one of the most productive backs in the nation since, and has been able to put any sort of durability concerns despite his 5-foot-6 frame.
  2. Khalil Tate burst onto the scene and made Arizona a bowl team in 2017. While there were some serious aches in 2018, the team will only go as far as Tate in 2019 until Kevin Sumlin and Noel Mazzone can get their guys ready.
  3. Tristan Cooper is essentially a four-year starter, and has been nothing but consistent and reliable since he arrived on campus as a two-star recruit.
  4. Shawn Poindexter had a slow start to his career and left a lot to be desired, but finally broke out in his senior campaign where he put himself in the Arizona record books and found himself in the NFL.
  5. Lorenzo Burns got picked on a lot early in his career with the emergence of Jace Whittaker, but quickly found himself as a solidified starter. He has been yet another reliable piece on defense during his time.

Conclusion

This was a smaller class, as only 17 guys had signed. There are a handful of members that did not last more than a few years at Arizona either due to off-field issues or injuries, but not nearly as bad as the horrific 2015 class. For the players who made it this far, they have all contributed heavily and cracked the starting rotation at one point. With all things being said, it proved to be a pretty good class.