Arizona Football

Arizona Signing Day blog: Wildcats get help up front on defense

Future Wildcat teammates: Tempe DE My-King Johnson sacks Catalina Foothills QB Rhett Rodriguez early in the 2016 season. (Andy Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

Sabino High’s Drew Dixon, who is a four-star recruit according to Rivals.com, seen here signing his letter of intent. He is an “athlete” who will get his first shot as a 6-foot-4 receiver for the Wildcats.

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A nice reminder from former Arizona Wildcat safety Will Parks, who just finished up his rookie season with the Denver Broncos:

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I’ve written this before and it’s still true: The 1990 class — deemed to be in the middle of the Pac-10 (at best) and considered average nationally — is the best in Arizona history.

It featured:

One College Football Hall of Famer: Defensive tackle Rob Waldrop.

Two major award winners: Steve McLaughlin won the Lou Groza Award as the country’s top kicker, and Waldrop took home the Outland Trophy as the best interior lineman and was the inaugural winner of what is now the Bronko Nagurski Award as the nation’s top defensive player.

Four first-team All-Americans: Waldrop, McLaughlin, free safety Tony Bouie and punter Josh Miller.

Beyond that, Sean Harris was a first-team All-Pac-10 linebacker, receiver Terry Vaughn and offensive linemen Mike Heemsbergen earned second-team all-league honors, and Chuck Levy, while short on postseason honors, remains one of the most dynamic offensive threats in school history.

Seven of the 24 signees in that class played in the NFL, including safety/linebacker Mike Scurlock, a Cholla High grad who was one of six key Tucson recruits in that class. Vaughn, who didn’t play in the NFL, is one of the all-time great receivers in the Canadian Football League.

In all, 17 members of that class became productive Pac-10 starters … and now Arizona’s success from 1992 to 1994 makes a lot of sense.

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The new Oregon coaching staff continues to raid the Arizona recruiting class. The Ducks flipped four-star quarterback Braxton Burmeister, three-star defensive tackle Austin Faoliu, three-star athlete Darrian McNeal … and, on Signing Day, got the signature of offensive lineman Cody Shear.

Oregon swooped in Wednesday morning with a (very) late offer.

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Two prospects from Catalina Foothills High School — each the son of an Arizona football coach — signed letters of intent this morning.

Quarterback Rhett Rodriguez, son of head coach Rich Rodriguez, signed with the Wildcats. Tight end/H-back Max Michalczik, son of offensive line coach Jim Michalczik, signed with NAU.

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Arizona has one Signing Day surprise with the signing of running back Gary Brightwell, who had been committed to Tempe. Brightwell (5-11, 170) is a three-star recruit from Baltimore.

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As of 8 a.m., here were the Pac-12 team recruiting rankings, according to 247Sports:

1. USC
2. Stanford
3. UCLA
4. Washington
5. Oregon
6. Colorado
7. Arizona State
8. Utah
9. Arizona
10. Oregon State
11. Washington State
12. Cal

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Every team is in search of the quarterbacks with bionic arms (and/or legs) and receivers as tall as skyscrapers. Running backs are nice, and so are cover cornerbacks … and, yes, Arizona needed all of that and more.

Especially help up front on defense.

The Wildcats’ 2017 class — which was ranked 40th nationally by the 247Sports Composite early on Signing Day — doesn’t have a lot of four-star talent, but it does have a higher cut of three-star quality than many of the program’s recent efforts.

What does all that mean? Check back in a few years.

Or maybe check back this fall, because there could be immediate help in this class in the front seven on defense, where Arizona needs it the most after allowing 38.3 points and 469.3 yards per game in coordinator Marcel Yates’s first season in Tucson.

This class has a big junior college defensive tackle — Sione Taufahema. It has two exciting edge in-state edge rushers in Jalen Harris and My-King Johnson who each had other big-time offers. Harris, the son of former Desert Swarm linebacker Sean Harris, took a late visit to Notre Dame. Johnson was first committed to UCLA. Anthony Pandy from Narbonne High in Harbor City, Calif., is another defensive end/outside linebacker typr.

And there are five linebackers in this class, including early-enrolled Tony Fields and a pair of prospects who played big-boy L.A.-area high school football — Joshua Brown from Long Beach Poly and Colin Schooler from Mission Viejo High.

Check back here all day for updates on Signing Day and then tonight for coverage of Arizona’s Signing Day press conference with Rich Rodriguez.

Here is a look at Arizona’s committed players, with their star ratings from the three major recruiting services, as of Wednesday morning:

Name Pos Location Ht Wt Rivals 247 Scout
Xavier Bell DB Santa Ana, CA 6’2″ 190 3 3 3
Joshua Brown LB Long Beach, CA 6’1″ 231 3 3 3
Kurtis Brown DT Bakersfield, CA 6’3″ 285 3 3 3
Edgar Burrola OL Las Vegas, NV 6’6″ 290 3 3 3
Brian Casteel WR Covina, CA 6’1″ 190 3 3 3
Drew Dixon ATH Tucson, AZ 6’4″ 205 4 3 3
Tony Fields* LB Las Vegas, NV 6’2″ 200 3 3 3
Bryce Gilbert* WR Gilbert, AZ 6’5″ 230 3 3 3
Jalen Harris DE Mesa, AZ 6’3″ 205 3 3 3
Malik Hausman DB Las Vegas, NV 5’11” 172 3 3 3
Lucas Havrisik K Norco, CA 6’2″ 165 2 3 2
My-King Johnson DE Tempe, AZ 6’4″ 225 3 3 3
Anthony Pandy DE Harbor City, CA 6’2″ 225 3 3 3
Jose Ramirez* LB Auburndale, FL 6’3″ 185 2 3 3
Rhett Rodriguez QB Tucson, AZ 6’0″ 190 3 3 2
Colin Schooler LB Mission Viejo, CA 6’1″ 215 3 3 3
Rhedi Short DB Los Angeles, CA 6’1″ 185 3 3 3
Sione Taufahema* DT Santa Clarita, CA 6’3″ 320 3 2 2
Nathan Tilford* RB Ontario, CA 6’1″ 201 4 4 4
Tony Wallace ATH Las Vegas, NV 5’10” 180 3 3 3
Kylan Wilborn LB Sherman Oaks, CA 6’3″ 235 3 3 3
Bryce Wolma TE Saline, MI 6’4″ 230 3 3 3
Scott Young DB La Mesa, CA 5’11” 182 3 3 3
Troy Young DB Mobile, AL 6’0″ 193 2 3 3

*Enrolled for the spring semester

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