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Arizona football recruiting updates: Hunter Echols, quarterbacks and more

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Answering what you wanted to know about Wildcat recruits

Hunter Echols
Student Sports

With the Arizona Wildcats basketball team picking up its first 2017 commitment on Friday, there are still plenty of football things to keep an eye on as well.

I have a quick update on a highly ranked 4-star defensive end that Arizona has been pursuing, which could potentially put the Wildcats in a good spot.

Also, we have more reader questions. Feel free to send them to me at anytime for the next recruiting roundup.

Hunter Echols update

The 4-star defensive end decommitted from UCLA this summer and quickly committed to USC thereafter.

Still, this is a recruitment that I never thought was over, simply because I had heard extremely positive things about him with Arizona, and felt like Notre Dame had been another school he was very high on.

It’s something I’m still looking into, but there seems to have been a lot of external pressure on Echols to commit to the Trojans. And there is word that the coaching staff is giving him the Thomas Graham treatment.

This is certainly something to watch in the coming months, as Echols is a December graduate, who plans to enroll in the spring.

Reader Questions

It’s safe to say that Braxton Burmeister sticks with his commitment. He plans to graduate in December and will enroll at Arizona for the 2017 spring.

I think there will be four quarterbacks on scholarship next season: Anu Solomon (R senior), Brandon Dawkins (R junior), Khalil Tate (R freshman), and Burmeister (freshman).

The fifth quarterback that gets left off scholarship is Rhett Rodriguez. In my opinion, I think Rhett was offered the scholarship simply to help with recruiting. As the coach’s son, there are a lot of loopholes that can be used to allow him to actively be on campus to help with recruiting, but eventually join the team as a walk-on.

It’s hard to project if anyone leaves. Solomon would be gone in a year, Dawkins would have two years to play and could potentially see a good amount of playing time over Tate depending on how this quarterback situation plays out in 2016.

Tate is the quarterback that Rich Rodriguez has had success running his offense with...a la Denard Robinson and Pat White. Tate has all the tools to become a starting quarterback at Arizona, but he’s also athletic enough to play at wide receiver or maybe even corner.

Meanwhile, you look at Burmeister, who might not be that prototypical read-option quarterback, but I think he is more polished as a true quarterback than Tate.

Maybe after year two or so, if Braxton can’t top Tate, he would consider transferring. But he wouldn’t be committed to Arizona if he didn’t think he could eventually win the starting job, which I think he can.

Arizona isn’t really recruiting a quarterback for the 2018 class, which shows how comfortable they feel with what they have. There are a lot of quarterbacks that UA will pursue in 2019 though, including David Baldwin.

With 26 commitments, the gray shirt conversation could come up with a lot of these guys. Rich Rodriguez has already commented saying how much he likes this class and how he’ll be playing a lot of freshmen because of it, so it’s hard to tell who would be the gray shirt candidate.

There could be a change of heart, which could happen to anyone. Last year, we saw 3-star DE Jake Burton suddenly flip to UCLA in January and Markell Utsey flipped to Missouri late in the process.

With that being said, there isn’t anyone that sticks out immediately as a guy who could flip. There have been rumors about 4-star RB Nathan Tilford flipping to Nebraska, but I don’t find much truth to that. Notre Dame figures to be a threat for Greg Johnson, but I believe he is 100% committed.

As for potential incoming offers, there’s a lot that could happen. Commits like Tony Fields, Xavier Bell, Warren Jackson, Edgar Burrola and Matt Leo could really start to capture the attention of more schools. Obviously when you have Oklahoma, Oregon, USC -- schools of that caliber knocking at your door — guys will usually listen. Still, I like Arizona’s class to ultimately stay committed.

It’s hard to define what a good year for this team will be, especially with so many question marks on all three phases. A good regular season to me is eight wins, my expectation is seven, and six or below would just be disappointing.

As mentioned above, I think this class does hold together barring any unforeseen incidents.

The staff is going after some elite talent to close out the 2017 class. By landing 26 commitments this early, with six of those graduating early and enrolling in the spring, it gives Arizona more time to focus on those 4 and 5-star guys. But of course, to land those guys you need wins.

I feel extremely confident about 4-star CB Thomas Graham and as I mention above I think we could see more movement from Echols. 5-star WR Joseph Lewis is also very much in play. Then you also have a guy like 3-star DE Odua Isibor in the mix.

But I think a successful season combined with the 2017 class, Arizona will ultimately pull in a lot of talent in the 2018 class.

All of these guys are highly ranked prospects who have a very good chance of coming to Arizona. If the wins roll in and the talent level continues to elevate under this new coaching staff, Arizona’s 2018 class has even more potential than the 2017 class.