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Arizona football SitRep: On in-state recruiting, reader questions, and more

We take a look at in-state recruiting

California v Arizona Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

As the 2019 cycle winds on, the Arizona Wildcats are starting to get an idea of how the class will shape up.

There aren’t too many spots left in the class but there are still plenty of targets in the region and throughout the country. And that’s where our next series takes us as we look at Arizona targets in specific regions. We’ll start off this week looking at in-state recruiting for the 2019 and 2020 classes.

There’s plenty to get to this week, so without further ado, here is the SitRep.

Jalen Johnson, 3-star WR

We’ll kick off this week with the new addition to Arizona’s 2019 class. Johnson announced his commitment to the ‘Cats on Friday. Multiple Arizona coaches saw Johnson in person during UA’s camp in Redlands, California and they came away so impressed, they offered on the spot.

Johnson’s recruiting process lasted a little under a month before he decided to shut things down and commit to UA.

Johnson has tremendous upside, and the name of his game is speed and size. He has strong hands and is pretty solid in run blocking as well. One aspect that can’t be overlooked is that even though he has tons of speed, he doesn’t just run go-routes. His routes need a little more work, but as soon as he sharpens them up he’s going to be extremely dangerous. All in all, Johnson has all the tools that a coach could want in a receiver.

Johnson plays at Eleanor Roosevelt High School, in Corona, California, which produces a few FBS-level prospects every year. Last season, he only caught 10 passes, but his season was cut short due to a lower leg injury. He also played behind Chase Williams (2018 4-star USC commit) and Braedin Huffman-Dixon (2019 4-star Colorado commit).

Williams has moved on to college and Huffman-Dixon transferred to Mater Dei, leaving Johnson as the main target for the Mustangs in 2018. With all that said, look for him to really breakout this season.

2019 Targets in Arizona

We now move on to our new series, starting with the targets Arizona is pursuing within the state’s borders for the next two classes. Below are the players whose recruitments I’m most familiar with and confident in Arizona’s standing with. This list will be revisited at a later date and will inevitably change and have more players.

So far, the UA has two commits from Arizona — 3-star offensive tackle Jordan Morgan and punter Kyle Ostendorp.

Khyheem Waleed

3-star WR from Casteel High School (Queen Creek, AZ)

AZDS Take: Waleed is the biggest offensive priority in the state. Arizona has been on him hard since they offered back in the spring. He has been out to Tucson for multiple visits and Taylor Mazzone has done a great job recruiting him so far.

At one point I’d say UA was the favorite to land Waleed. However, as the offseason has progressed, a lot more programs have gotten involved. UCLA is the most recent program to offer the big receiver, and he should only add more as his senior season progresses. I’ve spoken with him a few times and the feeling is it’s still Arizona against Cal here. The more recent offers have grabbed his attention and he is open to all his options at this point. The prediction below is based off of my last interview with Waleed. I will reach back out to Waleed once it’s closer to his senior season.

Arizona’s Competition: Cal, Oregon, UCLA, Michigan State, Iowa State

Prediction: Arizona

Brayden Rohme

3-star OT from Perry High School (Gilbert, AZ)

AZDS Take: Rohme is the best lineman in the state and has seen his recruitment take off this offseason. He is an underrated lineman in my opinion and I believe that he will garner even more attention once his senior season gets underway.

He has been on campus already for an unofficial visit and that has caused his interest in the ‘Cats to rise. As of now, though, it seems like a recruitment that is steering away from Tucson. Cal is the heavy favorite and the ‘Cats have a lot of work to do in order to get back into this one.

Arizona’s Competition: Cal, Oregon, Nebraska, Iowa State

Prediction: Cal

Nassir Sims

3-star DT from Desert Edge High School (Goodyear, AZ)

AZDS Take: Sims is still pretty new to football, but he is an absolute force on the defensive line. He has great size at around 6-foot-2 and 290 pounds. Since he is a little raw, the offers have been a little slow to come in. However, it is very likely that once Sims gets some senior film, more offers will come.

Arizona offered Sims after he took an unofficial visit to campus for the Spring Game. He has also added offers from Oregon State, Colorado, Washington State, and San Diego State. At this point, I’m confident in saying that Arizona leads here and could push for a commitment.

Arizona’s Competition: Oregon State, Colorado, Washington State, San Diego State

Prediction: Arizona

Noa Pola-Gates

4-star DB from Williams Field High School (Gilbert, AZ)

AZDS Take: This is a rather interesting recruitment. Arizona was the first to offer the hard-hitting DB when the old staff was around. However, the new staff has been aggressive recruiting him, too. Having Davy Gnodle on staff has helped here as well since he has eased the transition between staffs with Pola-Gates and his family. Pola-Gates and his family have taken multiple trips down to Tucson, the latest during the Spring Game. While other schools are looking at him as a safety, the ‘Cats like him as a corner. Pola-Gates has the versatility to play either position.

As mentioned above, UA was the first to offer. Since then, he has exploded. He recently released a Top 10 list that included Arizona, Alabama, Arizona State, Oregon, USC, and Texas among others. It will be a tough pull for the ‘Cats but they are in a better spot than most will give them credit for.

Arizona’s Competition: Alabama, USC, Texas

Prediction: Too early to tell

Dez Melton

3-star ATH from Deer Valley High School (Glendale, AZ)

AZDS Take: Melton is an intriguing prospect. He can play multiple different positions: running back, tight end, or receiver. He’s one of those prospects that you want on your team first and then figure out his future position at a later date.

He and Arizona had a borderline non-existent relationship when Kevin Sumlin and company came aboard. Fast forward to the end of spring and the ‘Cats had picked up the heat on Melton. He came out for a visit in mid-May and came away with a newfound relationship with the ‘Cats. It is now down to Arizona and Iowa State, I think Melton is heading for the Big 12.

Arizona’s Competition: Iowa State

Prediction: Iowa State

2020 Targets in Arizona

Bijan Robinson

5-star RB from Salpointe Catholic

AZDS Take: There is no doubt Robinson is Arizona’s number one priority in the state. He is the best local product since Ka’Deem Carey, who had a great career at UA.

Arizona will really make its mark in-state in the 2020 class since it won’t be as restricted with the scholarship count. Sumlin knows how important it is to recruit Arizona and landing Robinson will be the first big test for him and running backs coach Clarence McKinney.

It won’t be easy though as multiple powerhouses from around the country have joined the race.

Arizona’s Competition: USC, Alabama, LSU, Michigan

Prediction: Too early to tell

Lathan Ransom

3-star DB from Salpointe Catholic

AZDS Take: Ransom had quite the offseason, seeing his recruitment take off in a big way. He picked up his offer from Arizona after he and his close friend, Bijan Robinson, took a visit to campus. He also holds offers from Washington, Nebraska, Utah, Georgia, and California amongst others.

This is a recruitment I can see ending with Ransom staying home to play for Arizona, but it’d be foolish to think it won’t be a fight to keep him in Tucson.

Arizona’s Competition: Washington, Georgia, Utah, Nebraska, California

Prediction: Arizona

Kelee Ringo

5-star CB from Saguaro High School (Scottsdale, AZ)

AZDS Take: Ringo is probably the best prospect to come out of Arizona in the last decade. To prove that, he has just about any offer he could want: Alabama, Oklahoma, Washington, USC, Ohio State, and Florida State are just some of the programs after his services.

When it comes to the ‘Cats, there is legitimate interest from Ringo and the staff. He has already visited campus earlier this summer with a few of his teammates at Saguaro and is working on setting up another visit in the near future.

It goes without saying that it will be a battle but Ringo is going to be Arizona’s top priority defensively moving forward.

Arizona’s Competition: Alabama, Oklahoma, Washington, USC, Ohio State, Florida State

Prediction: Too early to tell

Jacobe Covington

4-star DB from Saguaro High School (Scottsdale, AZ)

AZDS Take: Covington is one of the best prospects in a loaded 2020 class from the Grand Canyon State. He has started to pick up traction on the recruiting front, picking up offers from Michigan State, Nebraska, Tennessee, Oregon, and Arizona.

The Arizona offer is a big one, as Covington is originally from Tucson and the idea to play at home is appealing to him and his family. He took a visit to Tucson with his teammate Kelee Ringo earlier this summer and from all accounts, it went well. This will be a recruitment to watch going forward.

Arizona’s Competition: Oregon, Tennessee, Nebraska, Michigan State

Prediction: Arizona

Reader Questions

How do the RBs stack up after JJ and Nathan Tilford?

I’m going with Gary Brightwell, Branden Leon, and Anthony Marsical. Darrius Smith will redshirt this season.

Will Doyle beat out Lane to be back up QB?

I wholeheartedly believe that Doyle will be QB2 after camp. Behind him, I’ll say Joiner, though he could change to receiver as well. I don’t see Lane sticking around after this season.

Which freshmen will make the biggest impact on both sides of the ball?

Offense: I’m going with Tre Adams and Thomas Marcus. Both are tall receivers who have great athleticism, size, and speed. Arizona needs size at receiver and both players have just that. It’s easy to see them playing this year.

Defense: P.J. Johnson isn’t a freshman, but he will make the biggest impact among the newcomers. It is very likely he will be starting nose tackle this season. As for a freshman, I’ll go with Nahe Sulunga. There isn’t a whole lot of experience behind Justin Belknap at defensive end, so Sulunga is walking in to a great situation to earn playing time.

Who will be our leading receiver?

This is actually tough call. I will go with Shawn Poindexter for yardage and Shun Brown for receptions. Brown will be deadly with the short and intermediate passing game. Poindexter, based on what was seen during spring, will be the intermediate and deep threat. Not to mention he should be the red zone stud that Arizona has been looking for.

How much has the D-Line improved?

This is probably the best I’ve seen the defensive line in some time. It has size. It has depth. It has talent. Expect the line to get more push and more pass rush, increasing the effectiveness of the rest of the unit.

How well has Khalil Tate adjusted to Mazzone’s offense?

It’s not as much of Tate adjusting to Mazzone as it is Mazzone adjusting to Tate. Mazzone knows what he has on offense and will adjust his offense accordingly. There will be more passes from Tate, but I’d still expect a lot of running from the ‘Cats. Maybe not so many runs from Tate though, unless a play completely blows apart.

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 Curry: 4-star WR; 0.9314 composite ranking; Austin, TX

Stephon Wright: 4-star SDE; 0.9096 composite ranking; Los Angeles, CA

Drake Jackson: 4-star WDE; 0.9052 composite ranking; Corona, CA

Noa Pola-Gates: 4-star S; 0.9020 composite ranking; Gilbert, AZ

Tre’Mon Morris-Brash: 3-star WDE; 0.8843 composite ranking; Washington, D.C.

Logan Sagapolu: 3-star C; 0.8830 composite ranking; Lehi, UT

Jaylen Ellis: 3-star WR; 0.8742 composite ranking; Round Rock, TX

Langston Anderson: 3-star WR; 0.8689 composite ranking; Midlothian, TX

Khyheem Waleed: 3-star WR; 0.8689 composite ranking; Queen Creek, AZ

Michael Lynn: 3-star OT; 0.8614 composite ranking; Greenwood Village, CO

Bailey Elder: 3-star OT; 0.8600 composite ranking; Tacoma, WA

Bertrand Carrell: 3-star S; 0.8588 composite ranking; Baton Rouge, LA

William Nimmo: 3-star S; 0.8588 composite ranking; Santa Ana, CA

Jaxen Turner: 3-star S; 0.8565 composite ranking; Moreno Valley, CA

Dez Melton: 3-star ATH; 0.8527 composite ranking; Glendale, AZ

Curley Young: 3-star OLB; 0.8527 composite ranking; Pflugerville, TX

J.L. Skinner: 3-star ATH; 0.8516 composite ranking; San Diego, CA

Maurice Gaines: 3-star CB; 0.8477 composite ranking; Oakdale, CT

Logan Wilson: 3-star CB; 08438 composite ranking; Dallas, TX

Brayden Rohme: 3-star OT; 0.8427 composite ranking; Gilbert, AZ

Cam’Ron Johnson: 3-star OT; 0.8265 composite ranking; Pearland, TX

Seth Robinson: 3-star OLB; 0.8265 composite ranking; Scottsdale, AZ

Nassir Sims: 3-star DT; 0.8265 composite ranking; Goodyear, AZ

Cameron Stephens: 3-star CB; 0.8265 composite ranking; San Bernardino, CA

Jalen Williams: 3-star OLB; 0.8265 composite ranking; Phoenix, AZ

Chris Roland: 3-star ATH; 0.8199 composite ranking; Palmdale, CA

Eddie Siaumau: 3-star S; 0.8199 composite ranking; Pago Pago, AS

Jaden Tauanu’u: 3-star OLB; 0.8199 composite ranking; Pittsburg, CA

De’jon Benton: 3-star DT; 0.8099 composite ranking; Pittsburg, CA

Devyn Butler: 2-star CB; 0.7898 composite ranking; Allen, TX