clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Arizona football recruiting: Keyshawn Johnson brings group of unofficial visitors to Wildcats practice

Just another sign of the change around the Arizona football program.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Monday was the first Arizona Wildcats spring practice after a week and a half off thanks to fall break.

And the team was greeted by an NFL legend and his 7-on-7 youth team.

That was former USC Trojan great Keyshawn Johnson.

"It was so awesome," Arizona receiver Cayleb Jones explained. "I was like 'Man, that's the GOAT. That's Keyshawn'. He's played against my dad before, so it was awesome to see him out here and everybody played a little harder being a receiver."

"It was a busy day," Rich Rodriguez said after practice.

Johnson brought his youth team that includes his son, Keyshawn Johnson Jr., who is a highly-touted recruit in the 2016 class. It also includes Khalil Tate, who committed to Arizona last week, and Sean Riley, who committed after practice on Monday.

We went over some of the other visitors that were a part of the group, all of whom were on unofficial visits as part of this trip with Keyshawn.

"Our biggest challenge is just getting guys on campus," coach Rodriguez continued. "And if we get 'em on campus, our success rate is extremely high."

"That's why we're so appreciative of a guy like Keyshawn Johnson. He takes 'em to a lot of places, not just ours. But you've got 25-30 kids here that he puts on a bus, and they get a chance to's always a lot nicer than what they expected."

"It's so admirable for him to be out here," Jones added. "Even bringing all those young guys out here. Just Keyshawn's been one of the best in the game, and I have so much respect for him, and that's where I want to be."

In the world of recruiting, these unofficial visits far outweigh the importance of official visits to schools, which makes what Keyshawn Johnson did this week so invaluable for this program moving forward.

"The unofficial visit has become way more important," added Rodriguez. "All your focus has shifted to those."

"Unofficials were very important cuz I did more of those obviously," Jones tagged on. "It's not so much as programs putting on a show for you. You get to see more of the real thing. They heard coaches yelling today. They saw drill-for-drill today and how we get tired. Practice is no joke. Unofficials are just great for young guys."

It's also a sign of where this Arizona program has come in such a short time under coach Rodriguez.

"I think it's no longer a potential thing, and people see that," said Cayleb Jones. "We can play with the best, and it's awesome."

The unofficial visits also give those recruits a chance to talk to the current players on the team, and guys like Cayleb Jones can share with them their experiences at the school.

"I like to be genuine about what I do and don't like and how it is, cuz that's what they're gonna get," the receiver explained. "I'm never a person to be like 'Oh it's going to be great' and then you come and you see something different."

We've already seen the benefit of Keyshawn bringing his team out to Tucson with one commitment. Now that there are two Arizona commits in that group, it's conceivable that a few more of them could add themselves to the classes of 2016 and 2017 for the Wildcats.