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Arizona football recruiting SitRep: A look at the Wildcats’ 2018 commits

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Recapping the 2018 class thus far

Arizona v BYU Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

It’s a slow time for the Arizona Wildcats on the recruiting front. With not much happening the past week, we will take a look at the current members of their 2018 class

Let’s get to it in this week’s SitRep:


Armani Adams | Safety | St. Petersburg, Fla.

Adams committed to the Wildcats in mid-June without ever visiting the campus.

His relationship with the coaching staff, in particular Jahmile Addae, helped moved his decision along. Adams is looking to take his first visit to Arizona in July and is excited about meeting new people and being in a new place.

Adams is a hard-hitting safety who has good vision and can read the quarterback. He is tough and doesn’t shy away from contact. He plays in the box and stops the run quite effectively.

Adams has solid tackling technique, wrapping up the ball carrier as soon as he makes contact. Another attribute that he has is his wingspan. He is able to stretch out his arms to swat passes away from receivers with great effectiveness.

Adams’ zone coverage skills are solid, but his man-coverage skills need some work. He is inconsistent in man-to-man and, even though he is coming in as a safety, it is always possible that a safety will need to run man coverage.


Issaiah Johnson | Linebacker | Los Alamitos, Calif.

So far, Johnson is the only commit from California in the 2018 class.

He gave the Wildcats his pledge back in mid-May after linebackers coach Scott Boone visited him at his school. Johnson received his scholarship from the UA while on an unofficial visit to Tucson with his 7v7 team in March.

Johnson was a tackling machine for Los Alamitos High School last year. He racked up 140 tackles, including 8.0 tackles for loss and 6.0 sacks, during his junior campaign.

Johnson has solid skills at linebacker and has great upside.

He brings an aggressiveness that is desired at linebacker and isn't afraid to hit people. He attacks the offensive line without hesitation which causes him to be an extremely disruptive force. He is also able to drop back in coverage, which is an additional bonus.

His lateral speed and ability to play sideline to sideline is quite impressive. However, his straight line speed is nothing to write home about. If he can add that speed with about 10-15 more pounds, he will be able to reach his full potential.


Jamarye Joiner | Quarterback | Vail, Ariz.

Joiner was Arizona’s first commitment in the 2018 class, picking the ‘Cats last September. The explosive Cienega standout has a great relationship with quarterbacks coach Rod Smith, which has helped the ‘Cats in a big way.

This offseason has been productive for the dual-threat quarterback. Joiner led his 7v7 team to a championship victory in the Pylon 7v7 Tournament in Las Vegas earlier this spring.

Despite being committed to Arizona, Joiner said that he would be taking his five official visits during the season. He has not been shy about entertaining other schools and offers.

At the very least, this is a commitment to watch.

Joiner is known for making plays with his legs but his passing skills are still rough around the edges. His timing and release need some work but the talent is there. He has been working on his passing ability this offseason and has made some strides in the right direction.


Jaden Mitchell | Wide receiver | Las Vegas, Nev.

Mitchell was offered by head coach Rich Rodriguez back in January.

His relationship with Rodriguez and the rest of the staff helped lead quick commitment. Couple that with the unofficial visit he took during open practice last spring, and that led to fourth commitment for the UA.

When Mitchell committed, he said he’d still take visits to other schools.

I think Mitchell will fit in well with the offense. His elusiveness and speed are definitely attributes to pay attention to. He has good hands and has good concentration to make tough grabs. His initial burst of speed is quite violent, but he has finesse about his game that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Some things Mitchell needs work on is his route running. It’s a little raw and his breaks need to be crisper. These are issues that Mitchell has pointed out that need work and these are aspects that he is working on this offseason.


Darrius Smith | Running back | Pearland, Texas

Smith is Arizona’s newest commit and evidence of the Wildcats’ newfound recruiting efforts in Texas.

Smith totaled 2,150 all purpose yards and 20 touchdowns last year as a junior at Dawson High School. He could be the player that stirs Arizona’s momentum in the Lone Star State.

Smith’s highlights are impressive. He has an explosive first step and is able to outrun defenses easily, plus has shiftiness to gain extra yards. He mostly is a north-south runner which is what the Arizona staff likes to see out of a running back. He is tough and uses his strong lower body (Smith squats 405 pounds according to his Hudl) to keep his balance and keep his legs moving after contact.

Smith is little bit on the smaller side and will benefit from Arizona’s strength and conditioning program. As mentioned above, he does have a strong lower body, but he needs work on his upper body. He doesn’t stiff arm defenders often, if ever, and adding that upper body strength and size will be crucial. The major key is when he is adding weight not to lose that explosive speed he has.


David Watson | Offensive tackle | Tucson, Ariz.

Watson is a legacy offensive lineman, who will be adding much-needed depth and size along the o-line in 2018. His parents, David Sr. and Laura Espinoza, were standout Arizona athletes in the 1990s.

Needless to say, I don’t expect Watson to decommit.

Watson is a massive human being, checking in at 6-foot-6, 300 pounds. He is quite fast for a human his size. He is extremely powerful and has a tenacity to his game. He has a knack for punching holes in the defense, allowing his running back to gain chunks of yards.

Because of his power he is still a little raw, but has a large amount of upside. His technique and use of hands needs some work. If Watson’s raw potential can be polished and molded he can be a solid option for the Wildcats in future.


Measurements, rankings, etc.

Name Position Position Ranking Rating Height Weight High School City
Name Position Position Ranking Rating Height Weight High School City
Armani Adams S 121 *** 5-11 180 Lakewood Saint Petersburg, FL
Issaiah Johnson LB 44 *** 6-3 215 Los Alamitos Los Alamitos, CA
Jamarye Joiner QB 25 *** 6-3 200 Cienega Vail, AZ
Jaden Mitchell WR 186 *** 6-0 178 Desert Pines Las Vegas, NV
Darrius Smith RB N/A *** 5-9 170 Dawson Pearland, TX
David Watson OT 134 *** 6-6 300 Amphitheater Tucson, AZ

Recruiting notes

  • Late Sunday night, Peoria-Centennial cornerback Dominique Hampton released his top five. Arizona made the cut along with Washington, Oregon State, Colorado and Arizona State. When I interviewed Hampton back in May, the 3-star recruit expressed high interest in the ‘Cats, saying he talks to UA’s coaching staff every other day.
  • 3-star Los Angeles-Dorsey tight end Isaiah Smalls narrowed his listed, too, and UA is joined by Oregon, Fresno State, Arizona State, Purdue, Oregon State, and California on his short list. Smalls knows quite a few players on Arizona’s team and that can’t be overlooked. The next step for Arizona is to get Smalls on campus for a visit.