Arizona Football

Reflecting on Rich Rodriguez’s recruiting classes with Arizona Wildcats



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Another recruiting class for Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez brings yet another crop of uncertainty.

Recruiting is always inexact. Players come and players leave whether it’s Alabama or UTEP. The class that Arizona will announce tomorrow on National Signing Day may only have about 60 percent of its members on the Wildcats’ roster in three seasons. That is likely.

It’s close to the percentage of what is left from Rodriguez’s second recruiting class of 2013, 16 remaining players from the 27 who signed national letters of intent before the 2013-14 school year.

In Rodriguez’s four previous recruiting classes — 2012 through 2015 — 63 of the 98 players signed stuck with the program (exhausting their eligibility last season) or still remain. That means 64.3 percent of Rodriguez’s signees have not transferred, become ineligible (academically or otherwise), quit football or suffered a career-ending injury.

Out of the 24 players signed on Feb. 1, 2012 — Rodriguez’s first recruiting class after two months on the job — eight did not leave prematurely. Four of them exhausted their eligibility last season (safeties Will Parks, Anthony Lopez and Jamar Allah and offensive lineman Cayman Bundage).

Two of the four players with eligibility left from Rodriguez’s first class committed to Mike Stoops’ staff before Rodriguez’s arrival — redshirt senior left guard Zach Hemmila and redshirt senior tight end Josh Kern.

Offensive lineman T.D. Gross, who would have been a redshirt senior in 2016, is reportedly no longer with the program.

The four players who will be in their fifth year as redshirt seniors in the program in 2016:

Trey Griffey — Missed Arizona’s first six games last year with a foot injury and finished with 284 yards receiving on 11 catches.

Zach Hemmila — Six starts in his career were in 2015 at left guard. last season.

Cody Ippolito — Started at strong-side linebacker in 2014 but missed all of last season with an ACL injury.

Josh Kern — Tight end who was recruited as a quarterback by Stoops; had eight catches for 59 yards last season.

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

2012: 33.3 percent (8 of 24)

2013: 59.3 percent (16 of 27)

2014: 75.0 percent (18 of 24)

2015: 91.3 percent (21 of 23)


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Rich Rodriguez, who will be in his fifth season with Arizona in 2016, has yet to draw a five-star recruit. Here are the four-star recruits he has signed starting in his first year of 2012 (Note: Two four-star recruits — offensive lineman Michael Eletise and athlete Khalil Tate are in the projected current class that will sign tomorrow):


OLB Dakota Conwell: Played 10 games for Arizona as a true freshman in 2012 and decided to retire from football in 2013 because of concussion-related problems. A two-way player in high school, Conwell returned to football last season as a quarterback at Divsion II West Liberty (W.V.) College. He passed for 1,965 yards, completing 156 passes in 304 attempts, for the Hilltoppers. He also rushed for 386 yards on 132 carries.


RB Pierre Cormier: Stepped away from football after his freshman season because of a medical condition. He never played a down for Arizona, redshirting as a freshman in 2013.

CB Derek Babiash: Transferred to San Diego State as a walk-on after playing in nine games as a true freshman in 2013. He left after participating in spring drills in 2014.

QB Anu Solomon: Has started most of his games in the last two seasons after redshirting in 2013. Has thrown for 6,460 yards in his career, completing 518 passes in 870 attempts, with 48 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.


DT Marcus Griffin: Completed his redshirt freshman season in 2015, recording two tackles. Chose Arizona over Cal, Washington State and Mississippi State.

RB Jamardre Cobb: Originally recruited as a linebacker, Cobb played mostly at running back as a redshirt freshman last season. Used mostly as a lead blocker, he did not record a carry. He caught one pass, a touchdown.

LB Marquis Ware: Cobb’s teammate at Los Angeles Salesian, Ware recorded two tackles as a reserve linebacker last season as a redshirt freshman.

RB Nick Wilson: Has established himself as one of Rodriguez’s top recruits rushing for 2,100 yards in his his two years with the Wildcats. He gained 725 yards in an injury-marred season in 2015 after gaining 1,375 yards as a true freshman.

CB Cameron Denson: The Salpointe product switched from wide receiver to cornerback as a true freshman, playing in seven games that season. Last season, he played in 10 games and recorded three interceptions.


DE Anthony Fotu: Recorded four tackles as a junior college transfer. Intercepted a pass that was returned six yards for touchdown against Oregon State. Suspended the last seven games of the season for violation of team rules.

OT Keenan Walker: Grayshirt who enrolled at Arizona this semester and will be ready to participate in spring drills.


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— The biggest one was of course two-star LB Scooby Wright III signing in Rodriguez’s second class of 2013 and going on to become an All-American in 2014 while winning the Lombardi, Nagurski and Bednarik awards.

— S Will Parks was another two-star recruit (signed in Rodriguez’s first year) who emerged as one Arizona’s top defenders in his last two seasons with Arizona in 2014 and 2015. He recorded a team-high 72 tackles last season, 6.5 for lost yardage.

— WR Trey Griffey, Ken Griffey Jr.’s son, was a two-star recruit in 2012 as well. He figures to be one of Anu Solomon’s top targets in 2016.


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


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*-Soft verbal. Re-opened recruiting but has not de-committed from Arizona.


[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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