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Football recruiting SitRep: Looking at the future of Arizona’s defensive line, 2019 targets, and more

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Let’s take a look at the defensive tackles

NCAA Football: Arizona at Southern California Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

We are now moving into the summer months and that means that camps are in full swing. The Arizona Wildcats have been hitting the camp circuit in Texas, Arizona, and California, looking for their newest members for the 2019 class.

Last week they added the newest member to one of the position groups they are hitting the hardest, and he is a local prospect to boot.

In this latest edition of the SitRep we will also look at the interior defensive line, 2019 targets, and answer some reader questions.

So without further delay, let’s dive into this week’s SitRep.

Jordan Morgan, OT

We’ll start with UA’s newest addition. The local standout from Marana High isn’t a prospect that’ll blow you away, but do not let that fool you. He has everything a coach could want in an offensive lineman.

He has the frame at 6-foot-5 and 270 pounds to add good weight and still keep his athleticism. Morgan has a great base and tool set to build off. He stays engaged in his blocks and drives the opponent back. He knows how to use his hands effectively and control his body, which are two attributes need to be a successful lineman. He does need to work on his footwork a little, but he still gets solid drive and push.

Morgan is a project, but with this staff, they should be able to develop him into an effective lineman.

Interior Defensive Line

Key Returners: Kurtis Brown, Dereck Boles, Finton Connolly, Matt Thomas

Returning Redshirts: Sione Taufahema

Key Losses: Parker Zellers, Larry Tharpe Jr., Luca Bruno, Marcus Griffin

Key Newcomers: Abraham Maiava, Mykee Irving, P.J. Johnson

Returner Notes: I can’t remember the last time Arizona’s defensive line looked this different, and it’s a good thing. We’ll start with the returners — all four of them. We pretty much know what we are getting with quick and athletic Dereck Boles, Thomas hasn’t played a snap yet in his time at Arizona, but that could change this season.

That leaves us with Brown and Connolly. Connolly has been in the program for a little while now and is really starting to make his mark. He is a tenacious lineman who has great strength. He has been a reliable rotational player and has impressed when he is on the field. I expect his game to take another step up this season as he continues to progress.

Brown was rather disruptive during his freshman year. He only finished with eight tackles, but he was able to collapse his side of the line quite a few times. He was sidelined for a short period due to an injury but he will continue to be a major player heading into his sophomore year.

Redshirt Notes: The ‘Cats are only bringing back one redshirt and that’s JuCo transfer Sione Taufahema. At 6-foot-1, 330 pounds, he has the type of size that UA has been lacking for years and was poised to have a huge role last year. However, a knee injury sidelined him during fall camp and he redshirted the rest of the year.

Now healthy, he is starting to show what he can do. He was making noise as a member of the scout team at the end of the 2017 season and he had an impressive showing during the spring game. He will be a key player this season.

Newcomer Notes: UA added three linemen, one who was already on the team and two from the 2018 recruiting class. We’ll start with the player who was already on the team, Abraham Maiava. The brother of former UA offensive lineman, Lene, Abraham came to Arizona as a walk-on JuCo transfer offensive lineman. He made the switch after the season and I believe that was the right move. He has great size and will add depth along the line. He looked OK in the spring game but there are still a couple of things to iron out.

Next we’ll move onto the two members of UA’s 2018 class and both were early enrollees. Mykee Irving is a big body, checking in at 6-foot-3 and around 330 pounds. He is another player that adds much needed size and impressed as soon as spring practice started. Johnson is a Sacramento State bounceback who has had quite the journey to where he is now.

He is another massive human being at 6-foot-5 and over 340 pounds. I would be shocked if Johnson, who had a great spring, doesn’t start at nose tackle beside Boles and if Irving doesn’t see the field this year.

2019 Targets

Arizona will be losing the majority of its defensive tackles in the next two years so taking multiple tackles will be a priority for the staff for the next couple of classes.

Here are the targets I believe UA will be pushing for.

Gabriel Hall, 3-star

6-foot-5/280 pounds/Waller High School (Waller, TX)

Unable to find career stats

Hall has seen his recruitment take off this spring and heading into summer. He is sitting at 14 offers with Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Baylor, TCU, Nebraska, Houston, and Ole Miss as some of the schools vying for his services. Hall doesn’t talk too much about his recruitment so it’s tough to get a gauge on him. It is believed, though, that he’d be difficult to pull from the Lone Star State.

Hall plays defensive end for his high school but he has the size to move inside at the college level and that is what coaches love about him. He does have a great motor and the vision to track the ball carrier even when engaged by the offensive line. It’ll be interesting to see if Arizona can get him out on a visit and go from there.

Sio Nofoagatoto’a, 3-star

6-foot-3/315 pounds/Clearwater Academy International (Clearwater, FL)

Career Stats (14 games): 90 tackles, 40.0 TFL, 13.5 sacks, 6 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries

Nofoagatoto’a has had a steady stream of offers rolling in all spring and summer. He is now sitting at 21 offers with Arizona, Arizona State, Indiana, Nebraska, NC State, Virginia, and Boston College as some of his notable ones. As can be seen above, he is an extremely productive lineman and that has caused him to become increasingly attractive to colleges.

Originally from Hawaii, there is a connection with the Arizona staff through Davy Gnodle and Iona Uiagalelei. From what I understand, Arizona is doing really well in this recruitment. There is mutual interest from both parties involved and the next step for the ‘Cats will be to get Nofoagatoto’a on campus for an official visit. As of now Indiana is the biggest competition for his services.

Nassir Sims, 3-star

6-foot-3/285 pounds/Desert Edge High School (Goodyear, AZ)

Career Stats (14 games): 56 tackles, 18.5 TFL, 2.5 sacks

Sims hasn’t played football all that long but he is clearly already picking the game up at a high rate and is showing he is built for it. He has nine offers with Arizona, Colorado, Washington State, San Diego State, and Wyoming as some of the teams on his list. Sims is incredibly quick for someone his size and is a very powerful human being. He knows how to use his hands and has a nasty edge to him.

So far UA is doing a great job with Sims and I would not be surprised to see him take an official visit. He has already been on campus during the spring and that was when the staff decided to become involved. As of now I’d put Arizona in his top 2 or 3 schools.

De’jon Benton, 3-star

6-foot-3/275 pounds/Pittsburg High School (Pittsburg, CA)

Career Stats (11 games): 36 tackles, 2.0 TFL, 1.0 sack, 1 PBU, 1 fumble recovery

Benton has slowly but surely started gaining traction on the recruiting trail, now holding eight offers. Arizona, Washington State, Fresno State, and Hawaii are just a few schools on his list. He doesn’t have blow-you-away stats but he does have attributes that I feel can make him effective at the next level. He is another very quick, athletic tackle who has a quick first step. He plays with great pad level and is quite strong.

I’m not 100 percent sure how strong UA is recruiting Benton, but they could easily be at the top of his list, since his only other Power Five offer is from Washington State. This may be a recruitment to watch and see how it unfolds.

Kane Bradford, UR

6-foot-6/270 pounds/Skyline High School (Dallas, TX)

Unable to find career stats

Bradford is only at three offers with Arizona and Baylor as his biggest offers. He doesn’t have much film but what you can see from what he has is someone with massive upside. He is big, fast, aggressive, and a pretty decent tackler.

Bradford received his offer from the ‘Cats after the staff saw him perform at a camp in Texas. I believe he would commit to Arizona sooner than later but I’m not sure how hard the staff will pursue a commitment. Needless to say, this is still a recruitment to keep an eye on.

Reader Questions

For more reader questions and answers, check out the Monday Mailbag.

From @jamescasillas: What’s the best case scenario for this class in terms of players and rankings?

So I believe the best case scenario for Sumlin’s first class would be three or four 4-stars and a Top-30 ranking. Mind you that’s best case. Realistically, I think he’ll land two or three 4-stars max and land in the Top 35-40. That is respectable and it could climb if the team has major success on the field.

As for specific players that Arizona has a great shot with, keep an eye on Khyheem Waleed, McKade Mettauer, Kwabena Watson, and Brandon Joseph.

From @catsSZN: Do you think Sumlin is underperforming in terms of recruiting given the time and circumstances he has here in Tucson?

This is an interesting question. I can see it from both sides. I personally do not feel that he is and I also feel it is a little early to say. The reason I say no is that he and his staff were able to get the top QB in Texas to commit to Arizona. That is no easy feat, and to top it off, UA defeated some prestigious teams like LSU and Ohio State. UA is also in the running for multiple highly ranked recruits and just the overall quality of prospects offered has increased. So there is my reasoning, but keep in mind that it is still June and plenty of time left in the 2019 recruiting cycle.

2019 Watchlist

This is a new section in the SitRep where we keep a running list of players that we believe will commit to Arizona soon or players they are doing well with. It will be updated every week.

Jalen Cropper: 4-star Athlete; 30th ranked ATH; Clovis, CA

Elijah Higgins: 4-star Wide Receiver; 17th ranked WR; Austin, TX

Tre’Mon Morris-Brash: 4-star Weakside Defensive End; 21st ranked WDE; Washington, D.C.

Stephon Wright: 4-star Strongside Defensive End; 16th ranked SDE; Los Angeles, CA

Langston Anderson: 3-star Wide Receiver; 95th ranked WR; Midlothian, TX

Bertrand Carrell: 3-star Safety; 65th ranked S; Baton Rouge, LA

Don Chapman: 3-star Wide Receiver; 237th ranked WR; San Diego, CA

Derrion Clark: 3-star Inside Linebacker; 70th ranked ILB; Dallas, TX

Bailey Elder: 3-star Offensive Tackle; 120th ranked OT; Tacoma, WA

Jaylen Ellis: 3-star Wide Receiver; 70th ranked WR; Round Rock, TX

Maurice Gaines: 3-star Cornerback; 102nd ranked CB; Oakdale, CT

Cam’Ron Johnson: 3-star Offensive Tackle; 124th ranked OT; Pearland, TX

Brandon Joseph: 3-star Safety: 89th ranked S; College Station, TX

Michael Lynn: 3-star Offensive Tackle; 71st Ranked OT; Greenwood Village, CO

Shamar Martin: 3-star Cornerback; 49th ranked CB; San Diego, CA

Dez Melton: 3-star Athlete; 85th ranked ATH; Glendale, AZ

McKade Mettauer: 3-star Offensive Guard; 33rd ranked OG; Houston, TX

William Nimmo: 3-star Safety; 63rd ranked S; Santa Ana, CA

Sio Nofoagatoto’a: 3-star Defensive Tackle; 86th ranked DT; Clearwater, FL

Mark Perry: 3-star Safety; 69th ranked S; Rancho Cucamonga, CA

Seth Robinson: 3-star Outside Linebacker; 98th ranked OLB; Scottsdale, AZ

Chris Roland: 3-star Athlete; 151st ranked ATH; Palmdale, CA

Logan Sagapolu: 3-star Center; 4th ranked C; Lehi, UT

Eddie Siaumau: 3-star Safety; 129th ranked S; Pago Pago, AS

Nassir Sims: 3-star Defensive Tackle; 101st ranked DT; Goodyear, AZ

J.L. Skinner: 3-star Athlete; 89th ranked ATH; San Diego, CA

Jaden Tauanu’u: 3-star Outside Linebacker; 128th ranked OLB; Pittsburg, CA

Jaxen Turner: 3-star Safety; 71st ranked S; Moreno Valley, CA

Khyheem Waleed: 3-star Wide Receiver; 81st ranked WR; Queen Creek, AZ

Kwabena Watson: 3-star Outside Linebacker; 58th ranked OLB; Fresno, CA

Jalen Williams: 3-star Outside Linebacker; 116th ranked OLB; Phoenix, AZ

Devyn Butler: 2-star Cornerback; 219th ranked CB; Allen, TX