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Arizona football recruiting: Rich Rodriguez finally moves efforts into Texas

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What took so long though?

Arizona v UNLV Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

It’s no secret that Texas is a hotbed of high school football prospects. But for some reason, the Arizona Wildcats hadn’t really recruited that area despite its relative proximity.

Only two players on the Spring roster hailed from the Lone Star State, and they were pretty important pieces on the defensive side in 2016. Tristan Cooper (El Paso) piled up 35 tackles in his rookie campaign, while Larry Tharpe Jr. (Carrollton) became a great story on the defensive line and is poised to have a big second season in Tucson after transferring to Arizona from Tyler CC.

Rich Rodriguez obviously wanted to make a real commitment to covering the state with some of his offseason assistant hires, adding Theron Aych from UTEP.

“That was a big part of it,” Aych said back after his first practice with the Wildcats. “With me, I’ve got 15+ years of Texas ties, and I think that’s an area that Coach Rod felt he wanted to get back into. I think in the past, there’s been some really good players from Texas — Nick Foles for example — that come out here to The University of Arizona.”

We’re also starting to see Arizona participate in camps in the area, like one at Texas Southern in Houston this week. Aych once coached at The University of Houston, so he’ll be kind of relying on those old ties to recruit that particular area.

While there, Rodriguez explained his new philosophy to Fox 26’s Mark Berman.

“It’s a huge thing for us,” Rodriguez says in the video. “This is an area that we haven’t recruited much in the last few years at Arizona and we are now.”

“I’ve got six of my coaches here and we’re excited,” added Rodriguez about this particular camp. “Lot of talent in this area and I’ll think they’ll fit in at Arizona.”

Since Arizona had gotten away from recruiting places like Houston, the coaches also have to work on reintroducing the so-called Arizona “brand” to the area and the recruits while at these camps.

“If you can’t get ‘em on our campus, you gotta go to them and have them get a chance to see a coach, see ‘em work a little bit,” Rodriguez stated. “And also have the opportunity for us to meet some other coaches at some areas we want to recruit at.”

“The biggest thing is there’s just so many athletes in the state of Texas,” Aych said about what stands out when recruiting in the state. “Obviously compared to other states the population is huge and I’ll probably base out of Houston which is the third-largest city in the country, so there’s just so many players, so many schools, so I think that’s going to be something to help me too.”

We’ll see if this new philosophy actually pays off for this particular coaching staff, or if it’s too little, too late.