The Arizona Wildcats might just be in the market to land one more piece on the offensive line for this 2017 class, despite already holding 26 commitments.
Realistically, it doesn’t seem as if there are too many options out there, with the staff mainly focused on two guys; 3-star OT Ryan Nelson and 3-star OT Jonathan Nathaniel. Whether Arizona actually lands one, I’m unsure. I haven’t spoken to Nelson since the summer, but I felt he was a Virginia lean. So now it’s on to Nathaniel.
Nathaniel is a 6-foot-5, 250 pound offensive tackle out of Basha High School (Chandler, AZ). He holds over 15 offers, including Utah State and Washington State. Just this week, he was invited to the Blue-Grey All-American Bowl.
Truly blessed pic.twitter.com/6akRrk5dh9— spank (@spankymathew) September 19, 2016
Nathaniel attended Nike’s The Opening Oakland Regional and was named OL MVP of the camp. He’s also ranked second in the state among offensive lineman, behind 5-star Austin Jackson. Now playing in his senior season at Basha, Nathaniel is rising up the ranks while protecting 4-star Arizona State quarterback commit Ryan Kelley.
Arizona is often one of the first schools to offer a kid, but this is one in-state recruit that caught the attention of the coaching staff early in the process.
“U of A was actually one of the first schools I was interested in after I met coach Charlie Ragle when I was a freshman,” Nathaniel explained. “He kinda overlooked me at the time because I was so young. And then we met again when I was a sophomore getting ready to be a junior.”
Ragle has been a major key to the in-state recruiting success lately, which is starting to pay off with this 2017 class. It’s been no different with Nathaniel.
“(Ragle) said if it was up to him he would've offered me when I was a sophomore,” Nathaniel said about his process. “But he doesn't coach the o-line so he told me to keep working and he will keep putting a good word in for me.”
“And then when my recruitment started blowing up, Coach Jim M with the o-line started to contact me,” Nathaniel continued. “He and Coach Rich Rod finally offered me after one of the camps they run.”
Arizona has a lot to offer Nathaniel so far. He’s visited campus multiple times and has been familiar with the program for quite some time. Much like other recruits, Nathaniel lists the tempo, coaching staff and facilities as things that draw him to Tucson.
“I like the offense they run. I like the coaching staff a lot. And the facilities that I saw on my unofficial were awesome. I also have a lot of friends that attend the school.”
He also has a local connection with Arizona’s top ranked recruit from the 2015 recruiting class, Keenan Walker.
“(He) was kind of my idol and mentor when I started playing that position and he also attends the school so it'd be cool to play with him,” Nathaniel said about his relationship with Walker.
“I don't talk to him much anymore actually,” added Nathaniel. “But basically I watched him play and saw all the hype he got playing in high school and I liked the way he played, how aggressive and athletic he was and so I just watched his camp videos and hudl highlights and his interviews and just tried my hardest to play just like him.”
It appears as if he’s emulated his game well, and the two appear to look quite alike.
“And now recruiters and media sources all say I remind them of (Walker) and I even get people telling me I look like him all the time.”
Nathaniel has narrowed his list of schools down for the time being. He still has quite a few weeks of his senior season to pick up more attention, and then the big rush after the dead period in January.
Thank you to the coaches and staff of The University of Arizona for a great visit!!! #BearDown ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/wSKuq9YEPI— spank (@spankymathew) June 5, 2016
“Hawaii, San Diego state, and Washington state are my biggest interest,” he said about his top schools. “I talk to all those coaches. Utah State also contacts me a lot. I don't have a list in order, but Arizona is high in interest. I would like to go on an official soon.”
He plans to visit Hawaii on December 2, and is currently planning his trips to Washington State and San Diego State. After he takes his visits, he will make his decision, where it will come down to a place he could see himself living and the best system fit.
You can watch his junior year highlights below: