The Arizona Wildcats received three verbal commitments for the 2017 class in the span of 20 hours this week. The class now has five members and is currently ranked 29th in the nation, 3rd in the Pac-12. After the swirl of recruiting news, I started getting a lot of questions about this recruiting class, where it stands and where it can go.
What we know
We're still super early in the 2017 recruiting season which tells us two things. One is that a good amount of recruits that will end up signing with Arizona in February probably have not received an offer yet. We have yet to hit the evaluation period for recruiting. That begins April 15th, which is when coaches can go visit recruits at their school, but can not orchestrate an in-home visit. This is when a lot of offers start going out.
It also tells us that recruit rankings are nowhere near where they will end up. I'll give you two examples with the latest commits and an example from the 2016 class.
Kylan Wilborn was unranked by 247Sports the night he committed. Head over to 247Sports now and you'll see him with three stars next to his name, ranked 49th in the nation among all defensive ends.
Bryce Wolma was ranked 45th in the nation among all tight ends prior to his flip to Arizona. He is now ranked 27th. The recruiting services compare recruits by looking at the programs interested in them. Going from Northwestern to Arizona is a pretty decent jump in my book.
Some felt that Tristan Cooper, the 2016 2-star safety out of El Paso, would have easily been a four-star recruit had he been in the Los Angeles area.
In previous recruiting roundups, you've seen that a good amount of guys that Arizona offers are often unranked. The Wildcats have always been good in the scouting department, often the first power five school to offer a recruit, which is something that recruits truly respect. But once a recruit starts receiving offers, especially from high-quality schools, that's when their rankings make the jump.
How do these guys rank?
While Arizona has received a flurry of commitments this week, these are three guys that I feel like the previous staff could have landed anyways, with all due respect to the current staff. These aren't three standout players who are being sought after by schools like Washington, Arizona State or even Utah.
Of course, they still have time to pique the interest of higher-quality schools, as these guys have yet to go through the first evaluation period. And that shouldn't be a knock against the recruit either as Arizona just realistically isn't going to land an upper 3-star prospect every single time.
All three of the latest commits have a purpose. They're all big bodies that can fit in the scheme perfectly going forward, and sometimes scheme fit, among other factors, is way more important than rankings.
Tight ends haven't exactly panned out for Rich Rodriguez yet, but Wolma continues to bring the size that Arizona needs to catch passes. Kurtis Brown also brings some much-needed size on defense, checking in at 6-foot-3, 280lbs. And Kylan Wilborn you could see as the "stud" hybrid linebacker/defensive end that Marcel Yates used at Boise State.
This staff had less than a month to finish out the 2016 recruiting class and got a hold of some extremely talented recruits including Jalen Cochran and Chacho Ulloa. The staff now has the entire recruiting period to assemble this recruiting class, so good things will be coming soon.
Class ranking calculations
I'm not a huge fan as to how 247Sports adjusts their class rankings when it comes to the number of commits because that inflates a few schools in the rankings. Utah ended up with 30 recruits in their 2016 class, which propelled them to 36th in the nation, when in all reality it's a really average class that would have put them around 45 or so.
Wisconsin is another good example and comparison to Arizona. Wisconsin signed 26 in this last class, Arizona with 20. When you calculate the averages, they're almost identical in term of ranking. Wisconsin ended at 32nd and Arizona at 43rd.
People get caught up in rankings, for sure. And while it's a good indication as to where your class stands, a lot of them aren't nearly as accurate. Like I said above, scheme fit and character are two things that are not calculated in a recruiting class. We see what happens with Arizona State and all of their off-field issues, and you could say that Arizona didn't really miss out on Jalen Tabor and Naijiel Hale.
How many 4-star guys?
Arizona is in play for a lot of 4-star guys and I feel comfortable believing that this class will have at least five 4-star guys, at the minimum. They already have one down in Greg Johnson, now the challenge is fending off incoming schools before signing day.
I base the four-star projection off a few things. Two of those things are this staff and what recruits tell me about the staff and their visits. Arizona has been doing exceptionally well, landing a commitment from about 68% of the guys they bring on official visits. And recruits have nothing but great things to say about the staff. Even if the recruit hasn't had a good amount of contact, they feel comfortable because they've heard great things about the coaches.
I also base my projection on what other Pac-12 schools have done in the past. Programs like California and Utah have historically been able to bring in about three or four 4-star guys in a typical class. Schools like Oregon and Stanford can range anywhere from six to eight, then you get to USC and UCLA, who snag about 10 or more.
Arizona State and Washington are fairly comparable to Arizona, although both have been consistently beating Arizona in recruiting, and have also been sending guys to the NFL. Still, their classes range anywhere from four to seven 4-star guys depending on how well they bring the class together.
Where do the 5-star guys come in?
I got a question about landing 5-stars, and that's tough. There are usually only about 35 guys ranked in that category per year. And programs like Auburn, Georgia, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma and others don't land 5-star guys as much as you would think. They often bring in about one or two 5-stars for the class. So to expect Arizona to consistently land 5-star guys is unfair.
However, the Wildcats are in play for a few 5-star guys. Darnay Holmes is by far the biggest prospect on Arizona's board as the No. 1 corner in the nation, No. 6 overall. His older brother is Darick Holmes, who is a redshirt freshman receiver at Arizona. He also has a great connection with a lot of the Los Angeles area guys that Arizona has been landing as well. To me, Arizona is in his top three. I think Nebraska is the leader and Arizona is just a bit behind, with Stanford strongly in the mix as well.
Where does this class project?
Like I've said before, we're still very early in the process. But Arizona likes to get things going early in recruiting, with June and July typically being the biggest months for commitments. It'll be interesting to see how the new staff approaches it now.
This staff is ready to make a splash and we saw that with the commitment of Greg Johnson, the fourth-ranked athlete in the nation, 73rd overall prospect in the nation.
Based on guys that I feel will come to Arizona as of now, without knowing which prospects will arise throughout the summer and fall, well before the winter rush of recruiting, I feel confident to say that this class will realistically finish within the top 27, with top 25 potential, 23 definitely being achievable.