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Arizona football recruiting: Wildcats pursuing another defensive end?

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Jalen Harris finally jumped on board, but Hunter Echols went USC, leaving Arizona without one of their top targets

UCLA v Arizona Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

What’s crazy about college football recruiting is the fact that everything can change with one commitment. One way might be a guy attracting a bunch of his high school friends, or possibly its someone filling up the remaining spot for a certain position.

The Arizona Wildcats now have 25 commitments for the class, with 3-star defensive end Jalen Harris being the latest member to join the class. A school can only sign 25 recruits per year, but that number can be adjusted with early enrollments and gray shirt candidates. I also think Rhett Rodriguez comes off of a scholarship, opening up another spot.

So far the early enrollees will be Braxton Burmeister, Tony Fields, Darrian McNeal and Delshawn Phillips. This gives Arizona four open spots for the 2017 class if scholarship numbers allow, as those listed above can be shifted back into the 2016 class.

It’s been a while since I did a recruiting roundup, so now here’s the latest in the past week:

More on Jalen Harris’ commitment

This is one that was to be expected over the last few weeks. While he is a Desert Swarm legacy, he wanted to make his decision entirely on his own, with Oregon looking like a strong candidate.

But over time he started leaning closer and closer to Arizona, now ending his process just before the high school season starts. He is currently ranked 519th overall in the nation, Arizona’s fourth-highest ranked prospect. I think he’s in line to bump up to 4-star status. He finished his junior season with 70 tackles and 17.5 sacks at Desert Ridge.

This also helps recruit his brother, Jason, who could end up being even better than Jalen. Jason Harris, a freshman at Desert Ridge, already has an Oregon State offer and checks in at 6-foot-4, 245 pounds.

Hunter Echols commits to USC

So this is a prospect that the staff was very confident in landing. When I said Arizona will land a 4-star defensive end in this cycle, this seemed to be the guy.

After decommitting from UCLA a few weeks ago, he has flipped to the USC Trojans. He says he is 100% committed to USC and will not take any more visits, but there is still a long time until National Signing Day.

I still think the staff can flip him, but for now it does allow Arizona to pursue two more in-state prospects, 3-stars Odua Isibor and My-King Johnson, who I will talk about in the next section.

I got a question about Harris’ commitment potentially bumping out Echols. I’m going to say there is no correlation. Echols is a top 100 player and top seven defensive end, meanwhile Harris figures to have more of a linebacker role in the defense.

Defensive end options

There are two defensive ends that come to mind, both in-state. Johnson and Isibor are two extremely intriguing options. Both seem to have Arizona State, Arizona, USC and Oregon in their top list of schools, with Johnson also holding high interest in Texas A&M and Isibor really considering Stanford.

Honestly, I don’t see ASU landing either of them, the same goes for Oregon. Isibor is high on academics and really loves what Arizona has to offer with the medical program, but a Stanford offer -- once they see his test scores -- might trump all.

Still, Arizona has options. There is still a lot of time for decommits and guys who haven’t even received an offer from U of A. Knowing how this staff closed on a few guys towards the end of the 2016 class, the 2017 edition is going to end on a high note.

Tucker Robertson commits to Nevada

I had Arizona in my Crystal Ball for Robertson, although this was one that I had said could easily change. However, if I had the chance to change, it would have been to SDSU. He never really spoke about Nevada; it seemed to be Arizona, Boise State and SDSU, so this is a surprise to me. With a limited amount of spots, I’ll be interested to see and hear how heavily the staff pursues another offensive lineman to join Cody Shear and Edgar Burrola.

Remaining 2017 recruiting class

Echols was a guy I was anticipating the Wildcats landing, but most of the remaining class seems to be intact. I had four guys in my last recruiting round up who I had coming to Arizona. With Echols now off the board and Harris now officially on board, there are still two guys I am still confident UA will land.

  • 5-star Joseph Lewis
  • 4-star Thomas Graham

Guys still in the mix

  • 3-star defensive end Odua Isibor
  • 3-star defensive end My-King Johnson
  • 3-star offensive tackle Jonathan Nathaniel

In my last Q&A roundup I did say that of the three — Lewis, Graham and Echols — Echols was the least likely of the three, which should show how confident I am in this staff closing on Lewis and Graham.

I think Isaac Slade-Matautia could be getting pushed out, with Harris having the ability to play linebacker as well and Delshawn Phillips committing just a few weeks ago. Slade-Matautia also has a smaller posted frame at 6-foot-1, 205 pounds, which isn’t exactly ideal. Still, after speaking with him a while ago, he’s someone I would like to have for the future of the defense if at all possible. Michael Eletise has played a huge role in his recruitment thus far.

As of now, there aren’t too many left on the big board, but as mentioned above, there’s still plenty of time for decommitments and future Arizona offers.