Arizona Football

Class of 2015 recruiting class marks Rich Rod’s full cycle with Arizona Wildcats



Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez aims to get his kind of guys who will stick with the program (YouTube screen shot)

Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez aims to get his kind of guys who will stick with the program (YouTube screen shot)

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Rich Rodriguez reaches his first four-year recruiting cycle with the 2015 season.

Out of the 25 players signed on Feb. 1, 2012 — Rodriguez’s first recruiting class after two months on the job — only 10 remain. Four of the 10 committed to Mike Stoops’ staff before Rodriguez’s arrival — left guard Cayman Bundage, right tackle T.D. Gross, left guard Zach Hemmila and tight end Josh Kern.

It’s another example of recruiting being an inexact exercise. It shows the difficulty of a new coaching staff immediately making a mark on a program and that in most cases a coach deserves at least four years to build a program.

Five of Rodriguez’s first signees never played a game for the Wildcats.

Defensive back prospect Leo Thomas bolted after the first fall practice in 2012. Akron linebacker Brian Wagner, who led the nation in tackles before transferring as a graduate student, lost his desire to play the sport four months after signing with Arizona.

One other, defensive-end prospect Dylan Cozens, chose baseball over football after Philadelphia drafted the power-hitting right fielder in the second round in 2012. He played at the Class A level last season and batted only .245 but belted 16 home runs with 62 RBIs. He also had 23 stolen bases. Imagine that power and speed coming off the end for Arizona.


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Nine players overall from the Class of 2012 left on their own accord, including two transfers — cornerback Bryan Harper (Fresno State) and Wayne Capers Jr. (Duquesne).

A couple were either dismissed or ruled academically ineligible.

Three players succumbed to injuries — linebackers C.J. Dozier and Dakota Conwell (concussions) and offensive lineman Beau Boyster (knee).

The 10 players who will be in their fourth year in the program in 2015:

Jamar Allah — Senior free safety who is a career backup but might get a shot with holes to fill at that position.

Cayman Bundage — Senior left guard who has started most of his career.

Trey Griffey — Redshirt junior who had 31 receptions for 405 yards last season.

T.D. Gross — Redshirt junior who will be a potential starter at right tackle with Fabbians Ebbele exhausting his eligibility.

Zach Hemmila — Redshirt junior who has backed up Bundage at left guard.

Cody Ippolito — Redshirt junior who started at strong-side linebacker last season.

Josh Kern — Redshirt junior tight end who was recruited as a quarterback by Stoops.

Anthony Lopez — Senior backup safety originally signed as a running back, had 25-yard fumble return for a touchdown against ASU.

Will Parks — Senior starter at spur safety who emerged as an impact defender in the latter part of last season.

Yamen Sanders — Redshirt junior backup who has played mostly on special teams.

The percentages of each of Rodriguez’s high school signees sticking with Arizona:

2012: 41.7 percent (10 of 24 still with the program)

2013: 60.9 percent (14 of 23)

2014: 83.3 percent (15 of 18)


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The percentages of the Class of 2013 and 2014 can dwindle like the Class of 2012 as each reaches its four-year run.

The true test of Rodriguez’s recruiting gains will be if he can improve upon these percentages from one year to the next. The Class of 2013 must top 41.7 percent at this time next year and so on.

A winning culture makes them stay.

Urban Meyer was hired at Ohio State on Nov. 28, 2011, a week after Rodriguez arrived in Tucson. Of the 25 high school players Meyer signed in his first class on Feb. 1, 2012, 15 (or 60 percent) remain with the Buckeyes. Not only does Ohio State attract five-star players but Meyer keeps them at a better rate than most.

During today’s National Signing Day, remember that all the high school talent will not be Arizona’s kind-of-guys when the Class of 2015 reaches its four-year cycle. That’s a given. The key is to keep that turnover at a minimum. Established programs build on their OKG’s.

Stars based on’s rating. Rank indicates national ranking.


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[table “” not found /] publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He has also written articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.

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