The Arizona football team begins its 2013 season against Northern Arizona at Arizona Stadium on Aug. 30, which is 66 days away. From now until then, this Web site will count down the days with facts about the Wildcats, their players, coaching staff and opponents. This is not a ranking, only a list of 100 facts and observances related to the 2013 Arizona football team and coach Rich Rodriguez.
The addition of South Florida transfer Jarvis McCall this week brings the total of six Florida prospects to join the Wildcats since Rich Rodriguez was hired in November 2011.
McCall, a cornerback who signed with South Florida last year but was never on its roster because of family-related problems, according to the Tampa Tribune. He will be an active player for Rodriguez in 2013. He hails from Tampa suburb Seffner, Fla.
McCall is a tall cornerback, listed at 6-2, 185 pounds, similar in size to former UA All-American cornerback Chris McAlister (6-1, 200). See the accompanying video to see McCall’s noticeable tall presence as a cornerback.
No players from Florida were on the Arizona roster in Mike Stoops’ last season in 2011. Conversely, 11 players from Florida were on Michigan’s roster that same year, with most of them recruited by Rodriguez and his staff there.
One of Rodriguez’s prized recruits from Florida when he coached Michigan was quarterback Dernard Robinson, who is from Deerfield Beach, Fla., in south Florida.
When Rodriguez signed wide receiver T.J. Johnson of Cape Coral, Fla., in February, he told Sirius-XM: “I thought he was one of the most dynamic players in south Florida. Certainly, that region has been very good to us.”
Rodriguez’s presence in that talent-rich region is enhanced by the legwork of his assistants, including Calvin Magee, Bill Kirelawich, Rod Smith and David Lockwood. Their work in the Sunshine State is meaningful because that area turns out the most percentage of Football Bowl Subdivision talent.
Rivals.com runs an annual report that lists the ratio of prospects signed in each state by Division I (Football Bowl Subdivision) teams. Florida tops the list every year. The Rivals.com list from 2013 shows 332 FBS players signed from Florida out of 41,127 overall, a ratio of one out of 124.
Texas, a focal point in Stoops’ recruitment, had the most players sign overall with 167,477, but only 346 of those signed with an FBS program, a ratio of 485. Arizona ranks 11th with a ratio of 340.
Despite the fact that Rodriguez brought Robinson to Michigan and the Wolverines fans were thrilled by his play, Rodriguez was criticized by some in Michigan for placing too much of an emphasis on recruiting Florida and the South. They believed Rodriguez did not understand the importance of the Ohio State rivalry and that related to him not placing a priority on recruiting the Midwest.
Rodriguez has vowed to make Arizona a priority, but Wildcat fans will not blame him for going after Florida prospects.
Arizona had a verbal commitment for the Class of 2014 from Estero, Fla., tight end Nick Nataro, but he has re-opened his recruitment. Nataro, of Estero, Fla., has visited Auburn. He also has Florida Atlantic, Minnesota and Central Florida on his list.
The Wildcats are in the mix with more Florida prospects for the Class of 2014, which will sign next February. The list includes two players from Orlando’s Dr. Phillips High School, the alma mater of UA redshirt freshman Trey Griffey. They are athlete Deionte Gaines and receiver Roderick Proctor.
Gaines, 5-foot-8, 165 pounds, has scholarship offers from Arizona, Cincinnati and Appalachian State. He is also being recruited by Michigan State, Boise State, Florida International and South Carolina. Proctor, 6-foot and 170 pounds, has scholarship offers from Arizona, Iowa State, Tulane, Bowling Green, and Memphis.
Rodriguez and his staff have also offered scholarships to linebacker Jaylon Graham from Eustis (Fla.) High and receiver Garrett Johnson from West Orange High in Winter Garden, Fla.
Graham (6-3, 245) has offers from Arizona, Louisville and Memphis. In a recent interview with Scout.com, Johnson (5-11, 170) did not immediately mention Arizona as a program that has offered him a scholarship. He listed South Florida, Kentucky, Boston College, Northwestern, Indiana and Georgia Tech.
One of the six players signed by Arizona since Rodriguez arrival — running back J.T. Washington who redshirted last season — is not listed on the Wildcats’ 2013 roster.
The remaining five Florida players, including McCall, who will be on the UA roster are Johnson, Griffey (Ken Griffey Jr.‘s son), receiver Clive Georges of Key West, and linebacker Shadow Williams of Tampa.
Johnson, a 5-foot-8-inch, 165-pound athlete, is the most prized recruit of the group. He chose Arizona over Miami, Ole Miss, Notre Dame and Tennessee.
The best No. 66 to wear the Arizona uniform is the first Wildcat to be selected in the first round of the NFL draft — fullback Walter “Hoss” Nielsen (1936-38). He was the 10th overall by the New York Giants. He is in the Arizona Sports Hall of Fame and his name is among the circle of honor at Arizona Stadium. After playing with the Giants for two years, he entered the Army and spent four years overseas, first in Tunisia with General George S. Patton, then in the Sicily Invasion. He was then sent to England to train for the Normandy D-Day Invasion and the occupation of Berlin. He was awarded the Purple Heart, the Bronze Medal and the Silver Star for gallantry in action.
WILDABOUTAZCATS.net publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes blogs for Lindy’s College Sports, TucsonCitizen.com and Sports Illustrated-sponsored site ZonaZealots.com.