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Arizona football turns focus toward NCAA transfer portal after early signing period ends

arizona-wildcats-football-recruiting-ncaa-transfer-portal-jedd-fisch-quarterback-depth-2022 Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Arizona Wildcats have put together a 2022 recruiting class that, as of now, is in the top 25 nationally and second in the Pac-12. More players can—and probably will—be added to the group, but with the early signing period in the rearview mirror the UA’s focus has turned to the NCAA transfer portal.

It has already signed one transfer, landing ex-UCLA defensive back DJ Warnell, but that won’t be all it gets from the portal.

UA coach Jedd Fisch said Wednesday the Wildcats had “roster freedom” to add between seven and 10 more players, and that was before the signing of 4-star wide receiver Tetairoa McMillan.

“I don’t know if we’ll get that high,” Fisch said. “I believe that will kind of be our roster freedom. If you start bringing in older guys, you got to figure out are they going to play now. Start bringing in younger guys, it’s just like bringing in high school kids. Right now to me, I love where we’re at, might be able to pick and choose one or two.”

Adding depth to the offensive and defensive line can always help, so look for the Wildcats to try and enhance those position groups. Same goes for quarterback, where because of injuries they are a lot thinner than the numbers make it seem.

The signing of 3-star Noah Fifita gives the UA four scholarship passers, and Fifita is enrolling early in order to participate in spring ball. But Arizona’s three other QBs all got hurt at one point in 2021, with Gunner Cruz and Jordan McCloud suffering season-ending injuries that required surgery.

“I feel very good about our quarterback room right now,” Fisch said. “I think Will (Plummer) showed that he improved each week. We know Jordan had an opportunity the two games that he played, but we also have a quarterback room that’s pretty beaten up. So I got to figure out what we need to do in terms of our numbers. I don’t envision Gunner being able to play at all in the spring. Jordan is coming off of ankle surgery, so I got to know where he’s at. Will is in a spot where we have to see how healthy he’ll be, I feel like he should be fine. So with that being the case, I don’t want to go into the spring again, or any season game having three guys, or two guys or one guy.”

There are no shortage of capable QBs in the transfer portal, with some notables including Kedon Slovis (USC), Bo Nix (Auburn), Zach Calzada (Texas A&M), Casey Thompson (Texas), Jack Miller (Ohio State) and Chubba Purdy (Florida State). Slovis, Miller and Purdy are all originally from the Phoenix area.

“We don’t have to feel like there’s a sudden urge that we have to get (someone here) right now, but we do recognize that there are some quarterbacks out there,” Fisch said. “I would say, just like most positions right now, we’re going to be able to look at, is there a candidate or so that’s going to come in and help us win immediately? If there is that, we will not pass that up at any spot.”