"Our goal was to get bigger, stronger and more athletic as a football team, and we have done that,” head coach Rich Rodriguez said in a statement. “We also have the opportunity to add to this class in the coming months, and our staff will continue looking for the best players and best people to address the remaining needs.”
My thoughts on the class are similar to Rodriguez’s. The overall class isn’t going to blow anyone away — it’s ranked 55th in the country including the six unsigned players — but there are some really solid football players. I get the sense that they will be scrappy and have success like the 2017 class.
One thing that stands out to me is the size of the class. Out of the 16 signees, only two are under 6-foot-2. Every defensive back that signed was 6-foot-2 or 6-foot-3. That is the size that the staff has been looking for on the back end.
Jhevon Hill and McKenzie Barnes bring physicality and aggressiveness to the cornerback spot. They are going to be problems for receivers throughout their careers. Christian Young is going to be quite the player. His instincts alone will get him playing time as a freshman.
Two places where I think that Arizona hit a home run is on the defensive and offensive lines. The talent and size that is coming in is what fans have been clamoring for since I joined this site.
We’ll start with the defensive side. All three players are 6-foot-3 or taller. Two are 300+ pounds while the third is 255. All have the strength and skill that is needed at the next level and, while some might see them projects, they have great upside. I see P.J. Johnson and Nahe Sulunga making immediate impacts. Mykee Irving could also crack the rotation if he has himself a great spring and offseason.
On the offensive side, the story is similar — the size really stands out. JuCo Steven Bailey checks in at 6-foot-3 and 305 pounds. He already has the skillset in place to come in and contribute right away, it will just be about how he is able to adjust to Division I tempo. Both David Watson and Donovan Laie will probably redshirt but it is possible one could see time early.
I also like the pass catchers that signed. Zach Williams and Jake Peters are both really solid additions to an increasingly talented tight end corps. Williams has the talent to be used in a variety of ways to include tight end or outside receiver. Peters is coming back from an Achilles injury he suffered in his junior season. He started to look himself this past season and is solid in both pass-catching and run blocking.
Moving to the receivers, it’s another group with natural talent. Thomas Marcus, 6-foot-3, is a raw talent but a freakish athlete as well. He plays basketball for his high school and will now have all his attention on football in Tucson.
Tre Adams, also 6-foot-3, is fast for his size and has great hands. If he has a solid camp he could see time as a freshman.
Jailen Bailey, a 5-foot-11, 180-pound slot receiver with speed, reminds me of Nate Phillips or Samajie Grant. He is quick and plays tougher than his size.
Darrius Smith fits the mold of an Arizona running back — quick and shifty with speed. He has good vision and is able to cut back into a running lanes for big gains.
Issaiah Johnson, the lone linebacker in this class, is a tackling machine. He has the patience to let a play develop and as soon as he commits, he has an explosive burst of speed that hurdles him towards the ball carrier quickly. He very much reminds me of Colin Schooler or Tony Fields II.