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Arizona football recruiting: Projecting the remaining 2017 class for the Wildcats

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This is how I figure the class to finish

UCLA v Arizona Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Arizona Wildcats recently received their 22nd commitment of the class. They landed a speedster out of Florida in Darrian McNeal who plays quarterback, but will come in at wide receiver. His speed is unreal, and I think he could come close to Tyrell Johnson in a race. You’ll want to watch his highlights.

This commitment now calls for another quick recruiting round up. There are very limited spots and some highly-ranked prospects remaining on Arizona’s board and I want to share with you a small projection of what I think the class could potentially finish with.

Projected class with the remaining spots

This is a super rough guess, but I’m going to give you a look as to what I guess Arizona finishes this class with

  • 5-star wide receiver Joseph Lewis
  • 4-star corner Jaylon Johnson or Elijah Blades or Thomas Graham
  • 4-star linebacker Isaac Slade-Matautia
  • 4-star defensive end to be left nameless (potentially)
  • 3-star defensive end Odua Isibor or Jalen Harris

A 5-star? Yeah, a 5-star. I think Arizona is in strong contention for Lewis and while it’s still too early to tell, I like Arizona’s chances here to break through and get an absolute game changer in Arizona's offense.

Which 4-star corner, that’s up for debate, but Arizona will land one more to pair up with Greg Johnson and Malik Hausman along with all these new safeties from the 2016 class as well.

I’ve been told that the Wildcats are pretty likely to be landing a 4-star defensive end, one I cannot say the name of at this moment. I'm still working on collecting more info but this would be an enormous commit for Arizona if everything holds up.

Based on talking to Tucker Robertson and Ryan Nelson, two guys I figure to be top targets on the offensive line, I’m not sure how hard Arizona will continue to pursue these guys with the limited space. Robertson is set to take visits to Boise State and SDSU and says it’s a toss up now. Ryan Nelson I feel is leaning towards Virginia.

But there’s one guy missing, Bruce Judson. I’ve heard good things about him and still have Arizona as my Crystal Ball prediction, but that is one that is very subject to change. I don’t think the staff says no to him either and you can always load up at this position, but this is an interesting one to watch. If Arizona doesn’t end up with Lewis then maybe slide Judson into that slot.

Chris Brooks update

I spoke to 3-star athlete Chris Brooks after the McNeal commitment. Arizona was looking for two running backs in this class, but I’m not so sure they are hard pressed to find that second back.

They see Brooks as a running back, but he wants to play wide receiver at the next level. A few weeks ago he told me that Oregon and USC are in the mix as well, with an Oregon visit coming in the fall. He says that Oregon offer trumps all. USC still wants to see some more film of him at wide receiver.

Despite the Pac-12 interest, he tells me that the Colorado State Rams are his leader. They have an experienced coaching staff that has sent many guys to the league, and he would have an opportunity to see the field as a true freshman.

Brooks is set to decide in late July after he finishes up summer school so he can take his unofficial visits.

New running back visitor

I know I just said that Arizona probably isn’t hard pressed to find an additional running back, but they’re going to be having 4-star running back O’Maury Samuels on campus. He’s ranked 20th among all running backs, 276th overall, and is a guy who could not be turned down.

Samuels is currently committed to Michigan, an area Chris Singletary has been hitting hard. This is something that could be developing.

Greg Johnson at The Opening

I have yet to see anything about Greg Johnson at The Opening this weekend. I could not find his Nike Sparq score or individual performance results.

He wasn’t on any "top performing" lists that I saw but that’s still okay. I felt like a strong performance could eventually bump him up to 5-star status, but that might have to be put on hold. At most, there are about 35 5-stars in the nation and Johnson is ranked 77th in the nation. He has a ways to go and I think his size is going to hold him back, but he’s someone who can crack the top 50 once again.

Reader Questions

Alright let’s see if I can answer all of these fully. The departure of Derrick Turituri certainly gives Arizona more flexibility now, unless they find a walk-on who has worked his way up. I think the Wildcats add five more, maybe not exactly the five I mention above, but that’s a rough projection I feel pretty comfortable saying. Maybe there’s another guy who ends up decommitting from another school and gives Arizona a second look.

As far as grey shirts, that’s an extremely tough decision the staff is going to have to make if they get to that point. Having mid-year enrollees will help alleviate some of that pressure, which I will get to in the next question.

The scholarships will eventually sort themselves out. I also don’t think there are any guys who would decommit simply to pursue other options. There’s always a possibility that Greg Johnson leaves, maybe even Nathan Tilford, but I don’t see either of those happening.

While the staff doesn’t have to do a whole lot of scouting, having 22 commitments, they’re still going to have to work extremely hard in keeping some of these guys when the big schools come knocking. Edgar Burrola, Warren Jackson, Xavier Bell, Bryce Brand and Malik Hausman all have the opportunity to blow up but I feel good about those pledges.

So just to clarify for all, if a kid enrolls early, their scholarship can be counted against the previous year's scholarship count, which would be 2016. Arizona only had 18 signings in the 2016 class so there could definitely be some space there if the scholarships align.

Braxton Burmeister will be enrolling early and I believe Tony Fields was another candidate. There could be more of them planning to do so, especially with summer school, but those are two that I know.

The biggest need in my opinion is defensive line and I agree that a nose guard or defensive tackle would be phenomenal. I think they’ll address the defensive line with the two I mention in my class projection above. The 4-star I did not name is versatile enough to play in the middle.

There’s also Bryce Brand and Kylan Wilborn who already have some solid size. Both have that Turituri body type and could end up on the defensive line.

Elijah Blades has to be a top priority. I still feel pretty good about him flipping once he takes that official visit he wants. The running back I talk about above, O’Maury Samuels, would be a nice addition that Arizona wouldn’t say no to. I think that would be it for now.

But like I said above, now I think it will be the Wildcats who will have to be fending off other schools for these guys. Fans don’t like it when Arizona is the first school to offer a guy, especially when he’s unranked, but that’s going to pay off big time with this class. Between guys worrying about losing their spot if they don’t commit in time, and the staff having to fend off other schools, that truly shows the culture change at Arizona.

There are a lot of guys who fit perfectly in this system and have room to grow throughout their senior season. For example, the guys from the powerhouse schools and guys like Drew Dixon and Darrian McNeal, who both play quarterback in high school but will come in as a wide receiver, their rankings won’t do them justice.