The Arizona Wildcats were the last major-conference school to land a 2021 commit, but the pledges have come in bunches since the middle of May, with their class now sitting at 13 players after the addition of three-star running back Montrell Johnson Jr. on Monday.
Arizona’s class now ranks 57th in the country (four spots better than last year) and sixth in the Pac-12 (six spots better than last year), per 247Sports. USC (17) and Oregon (16) are the only Pac-12 programs with more 2021 commits. Washington also has 13.
From those stats, it’s easy to make an argument that Arizona football is heading in the right direction. Or at least not continuing its downward trend.
But another metric paints a different story.
According to 247Sports composite rankings, which take into account the rankings of all the major recruiting services, the average ranking of Arizona’s commits is 84.09, second to last in the Pac-12, only ahead of Washington State (83.97).
That 84.09 number is also slightly worse than Arizona’s 2020 class, which finished with an 84.21 rating, dead last in the conference.
In other words, Arizona’s 2021 class so far is quantity over quality. Six of its commits don’t hold any other Power-5 offers.
The problem with that is FBS programs are only allowed to add up to 25 players per recruiting cycle. So at this rate once the rest of the Pac-12 fills out its classes, Arizona’s will be at, or near, the bottom of the conference again.
Of course, it has to be noted that recruiting rankings are completely subjective—and perhaps as unreliable as ever since the coronavirus crisis canceled the summer evaluation period and is threatening to wipe out the 2020 high school football season.
Coaching and player development is vital for a program too. Raw talent alone only goes so far.
But studies do show that recruiting rankings predict future success to a certain degree, so don’t be too enamored by Arizona’s recent string of commitments.
This is a marathon not a sprint.