Arizona Football

Rich Rodriguez’s Phoenix-area recruiting strategy paying off big time, literally


Scottsdale Chaparral offensive tackle Keenan Walker takes part in drills (Sports360 video capture)

Scottsdale Chaparral offensive tackle Keenan Walker takes part in drills (Sports360 video capture)

Arizona football coach Rich Rodriguez may come off as a fun-loving, carefree and loose bumpkin from West Virginia at times. You’ve seen the YouTube videos from Old Tucson, right?

Rodriguez is much smarter than the average Pac-12 coach.

His no-huddle spread offense has helped revolutionize football, including Chip Kelly’s career. His hire of Charlie Ragle from Scottsdale Chaparral to be part of his staff upon his hire in 2011 was ingenious.

It ranks as Rodriguez’s best move, more so than introducing the evening practice and the “Hard Edge” motto.

With another heavily touted recruit — offensive lineman Keenan Walker — committing today from Chaparral’s prestigious program, Rodriguez is cornering the Phoenix-area market thanks to Ragle’s presence. High-profile programs, such as Ohio State, which lost out to Arizona for Walker’s services, should cross Chaparral off their map.

Ragle was head coach at Chaparral from 2007-11, winning three 5A II state championships in 2009, 2010 and 2011 while compiling a 63-7 record in the span. Ragle’s Chaparral staff developed a relationship with Rodriguez in 2008 when he recruited two of Ragle’s prep players for Michigan’s program.

ASU has only one player from Chaparral, and he’s a good one — freshman receiver Tyler Whiley — but Arizona counters with six players from that program who starred for Ragle:

Connor Brewer, quarterback, sophomore transfer from Texas

Cody Ippolito, linebacker, sophomore

Arizona assistant Charlie Ragle's presence on Rich Rodriguez's staff is paying dividends with in-state recruiting

Arizona assistant Charlie Ragle’s presence on Rich Rodriguez’s staff is paying dividends with in-state recruiting

Brendan Murphy, cornerback, senior transfer from Glendale Community College and Air Force

Davonte’ Neal, receiver, sophomore transfer from Notre Dame

Carter Wood, offensive lineman, redshirt junior

Trevor Wood, tight end, Carter’s brother who is an incoming freshman standout

Walker (6’6″ and 280 pounds) is rated as a four-star prospect by and

“I want to represent the state but I want to set the tone for the recruiting class,” Walker told’s Jason Jewell. “We need more high level players in the 2015 class. I am going to be talking to guys and try and get them to realize that Arizona is a great place to be.”

Walker is the fifth recruit from the Class of 2015 to commit to Rodriguez’s program. Two others are from Arizona — Mesa Desert Ridge running back Taren Morrison and Gilbert Campo Verde defensive tackle Finton Connolly.

Walker is rated No. 98 out of the Top 100 Class of 2015 prospects nationally by

He is the No. 2 prospect from Arizona behind Scottsdale Saguaro receiver Christian Kirk, who ranks No. 29. Kirk has at least 36 scholarship offers, most of which are from the nation’s elite programs.

National ranking/star rating listed by
[table “” not found /] publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.


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