Arizona Football

Arizona football recruiting: RichRod trying to turn up the heat in Texas

Rich Rodriguez talks to the media on Signing Day.

Arizona Wildcats football coach Rich Rodriguez talked in the spring about picking up the recruiting pace in Texas, a state that he and his staff largely ignored upon his arrival in November 2011.

He has received commitments from two Texas players in the past week.

The first was three-star running back Darrius Smith from Dawson High in Pearland, and then safety/athlete Jaiden Dockery from Lancaster committed on the Fourth of July. He is not yet rated by 247Sports.

Rodriguez’s recruiting priorities when he arrived were, naturally, the states of California and Arizona, while also dabbling in Florida and Louisiana, areas in which his staff had previous connections. Those ties did not exist in Texas, nor did they extend to the Polynesian community that Dick Tomey‘s crew mined so successfully through the 1990s.

New Arizona wide receivers coach Theron Aych, most recently an assistant at UTEP and with a long history of recruiting in the area, certainly hasn’t hurt Arizona’s efforts to get its foot in the door in Texas. The Wildcats have been much more visible and aggressive in the state with early offers.

Arizona isn’t going to occupy the same elite recruiting world as Texas or Texas A&M, but there are plenty of talented three-star (or even two-star recruits) in the Lone Star State who might be interested in a move to the Pac-12.

Former UA coach Mike Stoops did well in this area, signing receiver Mike Thomas, fullback-turned defensive tackle Earl Mitchell, cornerback Trevin Wade, junior college safety Michael Johnson, receiver David Douglas, cornerback Wilrey Fontenot, Michigan State transfer quarterback Nick Foles

None of those above was a four-star recruit. A few were two-star prospects. All were drafted and/or played in the NFL. Other Stoops’ recruits from Texas included defensive back Cam Nelson, linebacker Ronnie Palmer and punter Keenyn Crier.

That kind of UA recruiting success in Texas won’t be easy to replicate, but at least Rodriguez is now giving it a try.

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