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A look at Arizona’s top 2018 defensive recruiting targets

Here is a look at Arizona’s top remaining defensive targets

Arizona v Oregon Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images

As the Arizona Wildcats wait to hear which bowl game they will be playing in, the coaching staff is making its way around the country to check in on commits and prospects they’re pursuing.

Earlier we took a look at Arizona’s offensive targets. Now, let’s take a look at some of the top 2018 defensive targets.

For each player, I’ll rate how UA is doing in the recruitment and how likely a commitment is with either a cold, warm, or hot designation.

Andres Fox, DE (Cold)

3-star/6-foot-5/245 pounds

At the beginning of the season, I figured Arizona was in a great position with Fox. Now, not so much. I think Auburn is the heavy favorite here and I’m not sure UA can beat them out.

Bryant Pirtle, DE/LB (Cold)

3-star/6-foot-3/240 pounds

This is another one that UA was sitting well in early on. Now it seems things have cooled off and Utah and Oregon have made their way to the top of his recruiting. Right now I’d put Utah and Oregon in that order. He visited Salt Lake City this past weekend and is scheduled for an official visit to Tucson on Dec. 8. We’ll see if UA can make up ground.

Nahe Sulunga, DE (Hot) — (UPDATE: Sulunga has committed to Arizona)

3-star/6-foot-4/255 pounds

Sulunga visited Arizona for the Oregon State game on Nov. 11 and walked away with an offer. Since then he decommitted from Colorado State and I believe it’s only a matter of time until he commits to UA. Of note, he is a teammate of Arizona defensive tackle commit Mykee Irving.

Caleb Okechukwu, DE (Hot)

3-star/6-foot-4/252 pounds

The D.C.-based edge rusher is another one to keep a close eye on. UA special teams coach Brian Knorr stopped by and visited Okechukwu on Monday and he has an official visit set up for the weekend of Dec. 15. He has been high on UA for some time now and if the visit goes well, it could send him over the top.

Tyler Manoa, DT (Warm)

4-star/6-foot-5/294 pounds

Manoa will be taking his two-year mission after high school but that isn’t stopping Arizona from heavily pursuing the 4-star prospect. Right now, Manoa’s Top 4 are Arizona, UCLA, California, and Utah. At this point it feels like it’s between the ‘Cats and Bruins, but Manoa is giving all four an equal opportunity to show him what they can offer. He will be announcing his decision Jan. 20 during the Polynesian Bowl.

Paul Maile, DT (Warm)

3-star/6-foot-4/270 pounds

UA has been pursuing Maile consistently throughout the year. He is someone who can play on both sides of the ball, but I like him on defense. As of now, Utah is the heavy favorite which makes sense. He grew up just down the road from the campus. Arizona is going to continue to recruit him and a prime example is Scott Boone made a stop by East High School to check in on him and other players. Maile informed that he would be taking an official visit to Tucson this weekend.

Jackson Cravens, DT (Warm)

3-star/6-foot-3/285 pounds

Cravens has been another Utah-based lineman that UA has been pursuing for some time. He has already visited Michigan State back in September and the Spartans are in a good spot for him. The key for the ‘Cats is to get him on campus and that should help them make up plenty of ground on him. I think this is one that UA is doing better than people think.

Niti Liu, DT (Cold)

3-star/6-foot-3/275 pounds

The ‘Cats were in great standing with Liu before he committed to UCLA in June. Well earlier this week he backed off his commitment and is back on the market. He is cold right now based on it’s still early after his decommitment. He will definitely be a player to watch and one the staff is going to pursue.

Noah Jefferson, DT (Warm)

3-star/6-foot-6/320 pounds

Moving on to the one a lot of people want to know about and the one I’ve gotten a ton of questions on. UA is still in play for Jefferson, and the dynamic lineman was once committed to come to Tucson after transferring from USC. He was unable to make it to campus and instead went to Arizona Western. He has gotten everything sorted out and in order, and colleges are noticing.

Though the ‘Cats are in play, it will be tougher this time around. The likes of UCLA, Ole Miss, Louisville, and Arkansas are pushing for his services. He did recently say that UA was one of the schools recruiting him the hardest and I will go out on a limb and say that this is one recruitment I am the least familiar with. It can go any sort of ways.

Jermayne Lole, DE/LB (Warm)

3-star/6-foot-2/265 pounds

This is another one to watch. Lole is taking a visit to Wazzu, who is the other major player here, on Dec. 8, but the staff really likes him. He is planning on visiting Tucson and if the staff can help it, they want him to leave as a future Wildcat. Marcel Yates recruits Long Beach Poly and has had success thus far.

Tyric LeBeauf, CB (Cold)

3-star/6-foot-2/178 pounds

This is one where the ‘Cats have quietly done a great job. Chris Singletary and Marcel Yates have been consistent with LeBeauf and it has resulted in him looking to visit Tucson in December. I can't say that he’ll commit (hence the “cold” rating) and Wazzu is a huge player as well. At the very least he is very interested in UA.

Aashari Croswell, S (Cold)

4-star/6-foot-1/185 pounds

Crosswell was considering the ‘Cats just not that long ago. He was supposed to visit for the Oregon State game but was unable due to his high school playing a game during the weekend. Now, however, he will not be visiting Arizona as the ‘Cats don’t have room for him.

Kenny Churchwell, S (Hot)

3-star/6-foot-2/180 pounds

This is one I see ending with Churchwell wanting to stay in Tucson for school. He has been on campus more times than I can count and will be officially visiting Tucson this weekend. Arizona had to make up ground in his recruitment after Charlie Ragle left, but the staff did an amazing job coming together and making Churchwell a priority.

Dayven Coleman, ATH (Warm-Hot)

3-star/6-foot-2/205 pounds

Arizona set itself up well after Coleman’s visit during the Oregon State game. Coleman had interest in UA early in the process but committed to UCLA. It didn’t bother the staff one bit and they continued to stay in touch with the dynamic Texas-based athlete. Their patience paid off after Coleman decommitted from the Bruins and he took his visit. He came away impressed and stated that UA had set the bar high for everyone else. I really like his ability to play safety, cornerback, or linebacker at the next level and that’s one thing the staff is looking for on defense.

2018 Arizona football commits

Name Position Position Ranking Rating Height Weight High School City
Name Position Position Ranking Rating Height Weight High School City
Armani Adams S 117 *** 6-0 190 Lakewood St. Petersburg, FL
Tre Adams WR 182 *** 6-3 190 Wakeland Frisco, TX
McKenzie Barnes CB 123 *** 6-2 170 Edison Fresno, CA
Jailen Bailey WR 278 *** 5-10 180 Lincoln San Diego, CA
Steven Bailey OG 39 *** 6-3 290 Centennial (Glendale CC) Peoria, AZ
Jaiden Dockery S 95 *** 6-0 195 Lancaster Lancaster, TX
Jhevon Hill ATH 66 *** 6-3 185 Cajon San Bernardino, CA
Martell Irby RB 101 *** 5-10 200 Morse San Diego, CA
Mykee Irving DT 42 *** 6-4 330 Calabasas Calabasas, CA
Issaiah Johnson ILB 36 *** 6-3 220 Los Alamitos Los Alamitos, CA
Jamarye Joiner QB (Dual Threat) 24 *** 6-3 205 Cienega Vail, AZ
Donovan Laie OT 102 *** 6-6 315 Oceanside Oceanside, CA
Thomas Marcus WR 171 *** 6-4 185 San Diego San Diego, CA
Jaden Mitchell WR 193 *** 6-0 180 Desert Pines Las Vegas, NV
Jake Peters TE 62 *** 6-5 240 Santa Margarita Catholic Rancho Santa Margarita, CA
Adam Plant WDE 48 *** 6-5 245 Bishop Gorman Las Vegas, NV
Darrius Smith RB 119 *** 5-10 175 Dawson Pearland, TX
David Watson OT 117 *** 6-6 300 Amphitheater Tucson, AZ
Zach Williams WR 211 *** 6-3 205 Jones Creek Alpharetta, GA
Christian Young S 60 *** 6-1 201 Foster Richmond, TX