The Arizona Wildcats are off to a rabid start in recruiting for the 2017 class, loaded up with nine commitments, floating within the top 25 of the national rankings. Among those nine commits, three are 4-star prospects according to 247Sports, all ranked within the top 260 overall.
Arizona's top-ranked prospect, Greg Johnson, was the first big splash by this new defensive staff, committing back on March 1st to become the third member of the class, joining Rhett Rodriguez and Braxton Burmeister.
The commitment of Johnson is turning the heads of some of the hottest recruits in the nation. Not only that, but Johnson has been actively recruiting other guys to help him build something great at Arizona. The coaching staff has a great reputation and recruits have interacted with some of them prior to their arrival at Arizona.
The problem with Arizona landing highly-touted recruits in the past has always been keeping them until National Signing Day. The list goes on from Shea Patterson, Naijiel Hale, Jalen Tabor, to name a few. But the new staff might be able to avoid all of that, and we saw that with the recommitment of Burmeister.
That's not to say that Johnson won't decommit, but him actively recruiting certainly makes it seem like he's in it for the long haul. Johnson has said he plans to take official visits this fall, which creates a sense of panic, especially when you consider the fact that Notre Dame and USC are still actively recruiting him and Alabama just offered him this week.
A good chunk of the 2017 Arizona recruiting class is going in on a lot of guys to sway them to Tucson, which has definitely been helping and will show as the class continues to evolve. Johnson has connections all across the Los Angeles area -- 3-star safety Scottie Young, 3-star running back Chris Brooks, 4-star corners Elijah Blades and Thomas Graham -- have all heard the pitch from Johnson. And then there's 5-star wide receiver and Augustus Hawkins teammate Joseph Lewis.
@ThomasGrahamJr impressive— Greg Johnson (@quick6gjohnson) May 17, 2016
Both Lewis and Johnson have said they want to play together at the next level. Having Johnson already committed clearly helps that cause. The two are going to have similar offers and teams are going to be doing their homework, offering both Johnson and Lewis as that package deal. I believe Arizona is doing very well, but they'll have to hold off quite a few top-tier schools and coaching staffs.
The Wildcats are going to be hosting a satellite camp at Hawkins this summer, which is going to be huge for this recruiting cycle. You better believe that Johnson will be in the ear of all of his teammates.
There's also something to say about Burmeister and his recruiting skills. You could also say the same for Rhett Rodriguez and his recruiting of all the in-state kids. But Burmeister has been trying to haul in DJ Johnson and Bruce Judson ever since he re-committed, two premier talents in the nation.
@4way_lilbruce you're next bro!— Braxton Burmeister (@Braxton1B) May 13, 2016
Johnson is a 4-star defensive end out of Sacramento ranked 9th in the nation at his position and 151st overall. While I don't think Arizona gets much traction, the efforts of Burmeister should be noticed.
Judson is the 4-star athlete out of Florida who showed his interest in Arizona after watching the bowl game and contacting Burmeister. I think Florida is the clear cut favorite, but an unofficial visit to Arizona could change some things before his National Signing Day decision.
As mentioned before, the Wildcats have struggled to keep kids until signing day. While I don't think that's the case now with this new staff, there's still always a chance these 18 year old kids change their mind. But with a handful of the recruiting class actively pursuing their friends to come join them, there's good things to come for Arizona.