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Arizona football’s 2022 recruiting class a sign the process is working

arizona-wildcats-football-recruiting-2022-process-jedd-fisch-tetairoa-mcmillan-sumlin-future-pac12 Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Only time will tell what Arizona’s 2022 recruiting class will be remembered for, but for now the group—which currently sits at 2nd in the Pac-12 and 23rd overall—loudly and clearly says something so incredibly important:

It’s OK to be an Arizona Wildcat. Actually, it’s not just OK, but even recommended.

At a time when the program has won just one of its last 24 games, it would have been understandable of players looked elsewhere. That’s especially true when elsewhere is the likes of Oregon, USC, Michigan, Nebraska or UCLA.

And yet, Jedd Fisch’s first full class as Arizona’s coach features not just the projects and (hopefully) under-recruited talent the program is used to, but also some high-end talent that drew no shortage of big-time offers.

So why Arizona?

For some, it’s the relationships—both with the coaches and some of their fellow recruits. For others, the proximity to home likely played a role.

But more than any of that, the coaching staff was able to sell its vision, convincing players that Arizona was a place where they would not only develop as players and men, but win, too.

Yeah, win.

None of that pitch is unique to Arizona, though other schools have more history on their side when making it. Fisch and his staff can offer what they believe will happen, but there is scant evidence to confirm they can get it done.

Not that they won’t try, though, and their confidence and effort seems to have resonated with players. In buying what Arizona’s coaches and staff were selling the ‘22 recruits announced to the rest of the country that Tucson is not the home of one of the worst programs in the country.

No, it is a place where a turnaround will happen. In fact, it might already be underway and if you’re a talented player looking for a collegiate home, take a look at Arizona.

You won’t be alone.

There’s little doubt the Cats’ class has sent a shockwave throughout the Pac-12, with the effects at least being noticed on a national level, too. Arizona proved able to take advantage of a weird offseason for the conference, with coaching changes at some of the top programs and coaching turmoil at some of the others.

The adaptability of Arizona’s recruiting along with its fearless approach on the trail paid big dividends, and the skill they showed throughout the recruiting process was not only something we haven’t seen in Tucson for years, but is absolutely necessary if the program is to truly turn things around.

Despite this year’s class, Arizona is still lacking in the talent department. The transfer portal may help — in fact, adding enough impact players from it could lead to a much-improved team in 2022 — but the program is still another recruiting cycle or two away from having what it needs to truly compete.

But whereas before there was no reason to think Arizona could compete for them, now there’s perhaps cause to believe Arizona can land them.

After all, if the program is good enough for a Tetaiora McMillan or Sterling Lane, why wouldn’t it be good enough for them? Keyan Burnett, Ephesians Prysock and Kevin Green Jr. all chose Arizona over USC, so why shouldn’t other high-end talent consider the same?

That is what this recruiting class can do.

It’s kind of funny to think about where Arizona is right now, just more than one year since Jedd Fisch was hired as the team’s head coach. Since then the Wildcats have earned just a single victory on the field but have claimed many wins on the recruiting trail, which is the lifeblood of any program.

So, while there is still much work to be done the feelings around the coach and what he’s doing remain largely positive.

Feelings, of course, do not count on the scoreboard and have no impact on the standings. But if and when the wins start to come, it will be due to a coach who had a plan and players who bought into it.