With the Arizona Wildcats’ coaching staff hitting the road all over the country for spring recruiting, they will be looking to strengthen already-built relationships and establish new ones with multiple recruits.
With that, we will take a look at each position group. We will look at returners, newcomers, and where each position group stands for the upcoming season.
Let’s get started with this week’s SitRep and the quarterback group.
Losses: Brandon Dawkins
Current Players Notes: We’ll start with Tate, obviously. We all know what he can do with his legs. One thing that stood out to me though was his ability to pass the ball. He had great touch on his deep ball and even on his intermediate passes. It became clear after the season that Tate needed to work on his progressions and reads. He has better vision than Brandon Dawkins but he took way too many chances downfield when the underneath option was open. There were even times when he would force the ball downfield and throw a pick.
During the spring game, it was apparent that Tate has progressed under Noel Mazzone’s tutelage. His vision and progression through his reads are already better than last year. He was able to hit his receivers at all levels and made the right reads. He will be much improved in my opinion.
Moving on to who is behind Tate. We’ll start with Lane. First and foremost, the work that he has put in to get himself into shape is impressive. He looks way different than when he came to Tucson last year. So kudos to him. Now we will move on to his on-the-field performance. He still has work to do, but he is much improved from last year. He had a beautiful pass to Cedric Peterson on a seam route for a touchdown during the spring game. He does have some work to do with his accuracy but the important part is he has improved.
Now on to Rodriguez. He is one smart football player. He knows the sport, knows what throws he can make, and makes solid decisions with the football. His one limiting factor is his physical attributes. He does not possess the arm strength of Tate or Lane and will need to add more weight to his frame for durability. But one thing cannot be denied, his football IQ is a benefit to the QB room.
Tovar is a walk-on from Cathedral High School. He saw some good reps during the spring game. Much like Rodriguez, he is a smaller quarterback who can add some weight to his frame. He had some good throws during his time but needs some more work.
Newcomer Notes: I believe that both Doyle and Joiner are talented enough to earn playing time as true freshmen. Doyle is a pure passer with a really great, strong arm and touch on his throws. His throwing motion is extremely fluid and almost looks effortless. He is mobile enough to make plays with his feet and gain good yards on scrambles. He should be able to push for playing time early.
Joiner is a player who grew tremendously from his junior to senior seasons. He is a very dangerous runner but his passing ability is becoming a major weapon for him. He will also be able to push for immediate playing time because of his talent, however, I believe that a redshirt year will only help his passing. He finished his career at Cienega with 203 completions out of 357 attempts, 3,909 yards, 43 touchdowns and 13 picks. He also had 2,161 yards on 264 carries and 31 scores on the ground.
It’s no secret that Arizona needs more depth behind Khalil Tate in the future. The cupboard isn’t completely bare, and with Doyle and Joiner coming in, UA is in a great spot. But they will need to add more.
Now let’s take a look at some of the players that Arizona will be going after in hopes of adding them to their recruiting class.
Grant Gunnell, 4-star
6-foot-6/222 pounds/St. Pius X High School (Houston, TX)
Career Stats (34 games): 730-for-1,043, 11,356 yards, 142 TD, 21 INT; 174 car, 1,088 yards, 20 TD
Gunnell is the full package. He has the arm strength, toughness, and vision that everyone wants in a quarterback. He is a big quarterback, sitting at 6-foot-6, and that is the size that Arizona hasn’t seen.
His passing ability is something to witness. He has great arm strength and accuracy and is able to place the ball just about anywhere. He also has the ability to anticipate routes and that only makes him a more dangerous passer coupled with his accuracy.
Much like Doyle, he, too, is able to scramble and use his legs to create plays. And he is crazy fast for someone his size. Deceptively fast.
Last month, Gunnell took an official visit to Tucson to see the ‘Cats and recruits don’t take official visits to schools they aren’t interested in.
Pictures of 4-Star Houston-based QB Grant Gunnell on his official visit to Arizona via his Instagram. 2nd ranked pro-style QB and 54th ranked player nationally per 247Sports pic.twitter.com/MbbgkzyVVr— Brandon Combs (@UofABearDown07) April 22, 2018
Jayden Daniels, 4-star
6-foot-3/170 pounds/Cajon High School (San Bernardino, CA)
Career Stats (34 games): 617-for-967, 9,312 yards, 110 TD, 15 INT; 2,043 yards, 24 TD
Arizona was Daniels’ first Power Five offer last year when the old staff decided to get involved. Since then he has exploded and there is no wonder why.
He has quite the cannon for an arm. He is able to chuck the ball down the field but not just all willy-nilly. He has the accuracy and touch needed to play at a high level. He also has great accuracy and places the ball only where his receiver can get it on a consistent basis. His vision of the field also helps serve him well in the passing game. But his arm is just one part of the story. He’s also a shifty and dangerous runner. He has the speed needed to outrun the defense.
Taking a look at Daniels’ stats during his junior season and it shouldn’t surprise anyone as to why so many schools are after him. Last season, Daniels went 322-for-459 for 5,139 yards and 62 TDs through the air. He also racked up 1,292 yards and 15 scores on the ground.
I haven't gotten the impression that Arizona is actively pursuing him, but I don’t expect that to continue much longer.
Shae Suiaunoa, 3-star
6-foot-2/184 pounds/Clear Lake High School (Houston, TX)
Career Stats (21 games): 289-for-497, 3,973 yards, 33 TD, 24 INT; 276 car, 1,305 yards, 9 TD
Suiaunoa is a great athlete and has a ton of upside at the quarterback position. He does have pretty solid accuracy and his arm strength will surprise some people. He also is comfortable, and effective, at utilizing his legs to extend plays or gain large chunks of yardage. He can prove to be difficult to bring down and that is in large part due to his shiftiness. He does need to work on his decision making and his accuracy a little more, but I believe he is a solid prospect at quarterback for the ‘Cats.
He took a visit to Arizona in mid-April.
Name: Kenan Christon
Position: Running Back
Ranking: 3-star, 670th nationally, 45th ranked RB (247Sports)
Height/Weight: 5-foot-10, 185 pounds
School/Hometown: Madison High School/San Diego, CA
Offers: Arizona, Alabama, California, Colorado, Notre Dame, Oregon State, Stanford, UCLA, USC, Utah
Notes: The name of Christon’s game is speed. He is the fastest player on the field during most plays and as soon as he gets an opening, he is gone. He also has the strength to break free of any would-be tacklers. His highlights are definitely worth a watch.
Name: Jaylen Ellis
Position: Wide Receiver
Ranking: 3-star, 607th ranked nationally, 81st ranked WR (247Sports)
Height/Weight: 6-foot, 180 pounds
School/Hometown: Cedar Ridge High School/Round Rock, TX
Offers: Arizona, Baylor (Committed), Arizona State, Houston, Illinois, Michigan State, Missouri, Oregon, SMU, TCU
Notes: Ellis isn’t the biggest receiver, but he is definitely a productive one. He is able to high point the ball and beat defensive backs for jump balls at a pretty solid rate. He is physical and isn’t afraid to go head-to-head with defensive backs. He is also able to track the ball in the air pretty well and has solid hands overall.
Name: T.Q. Jackson
Position: Wide Receiver
Ranking: 3-star, 595th nationally, 80th ranked WR (247Sports)
Height/Weight: 6-foot-2, 180 pounds
School/Hometown: Jefferson High School/Jefferson, TX
Offers: Arizona, Arizona State, Arkansas, Baylor, Houston, Minnesota, Missouri, Purdue, Texas Tech
Notes: Jackson is another tall, fast receiver from Texas that Arizona is interested in. He has really good hands and concentration. He tracks the ball well through the air as well and utilizes his speed to adjust as needed. His highlights are pretty fun to watch, to be honest.
Name: Malik Hornsby
Position: Dual-threat Quarterback
Height/Weight: 6-foot-2, 185 pounds
School/Hometown: Austin High School/Houston, TX
Offers: Arizona, Tennessee, Houston, SMU
Notes: Hornsby is a talented sophomore. He already has a decent arm and is able to find open receivers downfield. His legs are his most dangerous weapon right now and he has a great amount of speed that he uses to easily escape defenders.
From @catsSZN: Who do you think we have the best shot at?
I kind of answered this last week but after having a week to think on it I’ll narrow that list.
Khyheem Waleed: 3-star WR; 74th ranked WR; Queen Creek, AZ
Austin McNamara: 3-star Punter; 1st ranked P; Gilbert, AZ
Jaden Tauanu’u: 3-star Outside Linebacker; 119th OLB; Pittsburg, CA
Devyn Butler: Unranked Cornerback; Allen, TX
Again these are the players I think that would commit to Arizona today. There are plenty more they are doing really well with at this point in the cycle.