The Arizona Wildcats were slated to sign three junior college prospects during the early signing period based on verbal commitments, but now they will only have one of those three players.
Three-star linebacker Delshawn Phillips of Garden City (Garden City, KS) committed to Arizona over the summer, but now he is heading to Illinois.
Woke her up from her nap thought she was gone kill me‼️ pic.twitter.com/QA9YeDcoyS— King Phillips (@PROseason) December 15, 2016
Also, Matt Leo, a three-star defensive end at Western Arizona, did not sign with the Wildcats and instead signed with Iowa State.
Matt Leo DT - Arizona Western College / Iowa State pic.twitter.com/UCSLTi3AzL— Tom Minnick (@tcminnick11) December 15, 2016
Originally from Detroit, Michigan, Phillips was a two-star prospect out of Cass Technical, a football powerhouse. He signed with Western Michigan on National Signing Day of 2014, but ended up at Garden City. He is now a 3-star JuCo prospect, ranked No. 35 in the nation overall and fourth among inside linebackers.
Phillips was a summertime commitment that wasn’t entirely expected. While Arizona was one of his only offers, he knew all along that he wanted to commit while on an unofficial visit.
"Nobody knew, but I had been wanting to commit (to Arizona)," he explained. "I just had to see the place, see my fit, and then I felt like family. The whole environment was cool."
Gabe wrote about Phillips’ new offer from Illinois last week, and how the linebacker’s relationship with Illini head coach Lovie Smith could change things.
The linebacker depth at Arizona isn’t in a good spot moving forward. John Kenny, DeAndre’ Miller, Brandon Rutt, and Carrington Vaughn are guys likely to be in the rotation. With a strong spring performance it would be nice to see Jacob Colacion and Kahi Neves make appearances as well.
At Garden City CC, Phillips went out a National Champion. He led the Broncbusters in tackles all season long, recording 95 tackles (17.5 for loss), two sacks, two forced fumbles, and three interceptions.
For Leo, most fans weren’t sold on him, as he only has two years of football experience now after making the trip across the Pacific from Australia.
Leo had been offered by Oklahoma recently, but it appears the Sooners and Wildcats backed off their recruitment of him, leading to an Iowa State signing.
Been told that the staff backed off Leo a few weeks ago. OU suddenly backed off too. Iowa State it is. Arizona has some offers ready to go.— Gabe Encinas (@Gabe_Encinas) December 15, 2016
Either way, Arizona’s defensive line was undersized last year, and bringing in a 6-foot-7, 265 pound junior college prospect would have at least helped that problem out a little bit.
The Wildcats are currently down to 23 commitments, with the class ranked No. 27 in the nation. Junior college defensive tackle Sione Taufahema actually signed on Wednesday, and Tony Fields, an early enrollee, signed financial aid paperwork, but is not technically binding.
The staff has already been sending out new offers to find some replacements at linebacker as we enter the dead period. Three-star linebackers Colin Schooler and Anthony Pandy were both offered early Wednesday morning. The staff says that they have some upcoming offers in mind to bolster the defensive line as well.
Arizona has now lost four members of the 2017 class, and there are still a few more guys to keep an eye on. Rumors of three-star defensive end Bryce Brand flipping to Maryland are heating up, three-star linebacker Jalen Harris has been exploring Colorado and Illinois, and three-star defensive tackle Austin Faoliu is entertaining Arizona State and Washington State, with USC possibly coming into the mix as well.