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Tucson pipeline flows this year

Citizen Staff Writer
TC Varsity



The backdrop was fitting.

Each donning dark blue Nighthawks Football T-shirts, eight Ironwood Ridge High School seniors sat down in the team’s weight room on Wednesday and signed letters of intent to accept college scholarship offers.

“I felt this was a good place to have the signing because all eight of these men got it done in here and that has a lot to do with where they are today,” said Ironwood Ridge coach Gary Minor, whose team went 10-3 last fall and lost to eventual state champion Peoria Centennial in the Class 5A Division II semis.

The eight-person signing class at Ironwood Ridge was the biggest single recruiting class of any southern Arizona high school on Wednesday. It was easily the largest in the school’s still young history.

But the day didn’t belong only to the Nighthawks. Roughly 40 southern Arizona athletes signed letters of intent Wednesday to pursue their football playing careers, and educations, at the next level.

There were headliners such as Ironwood Ridge’s Jake Fischer and Palo Verde’s Adam Hall signing to play at the University of Arizona and Santa Rita’s J.J. Holliday signing with ASU.

But there was also validation of the growing excitement surrounding the Pima Community College program since the hiring of head coach Pat Nugent. Including five of Ironwood Ridge’s stars, Pima signed 22 area seniors on Wednesday and a few stars from past graduating classes hoping to get their college careers started, including former southern Arizona star running back AuBura Taylor (Santa Rita, class of 2008), quarterback Daniel Nicholas (Canyon del Oro ’08) and offensive lineman John Romero (Salpointe, 06).

“This is an all-star team of Tucson kids,” Nugent said of his initial recruiting class.

So how did Nugent pitch a Pima program that has won only once in the past four years and was outscored last year 505-37?

“He said it’s a new program. It’s serious,” said Ironwood Ridge offensive lineman and Pima signee Marvin Snodgrass. “People are excited and it’s a serious program now.”

The group can start “a whole new, different kind of legacy there,” added Ironwood Ridge teammate Zach Booker, who also signed with Pima.

Minor said the impact of the Nugent hire at Pima and the benefit it will have on southern Arizona football is enormous.

“If this was a year ago, I would have told all these guys not to even consider Pima,” Minor said. “Obviously that’s changed a lot. . . . Now I think it’s a great thing for these guys to go there and they have a coach who is showing some enthusiasm to go out and recruit. The previous coaching staff never stepped foot on this campus. Obviously that’s changed in a hurry.”

At least five locals also signed to play at Eastern Arizona College in Thatcher, a school that has in recent years given several Tucson-area football players college opportunities.

Wednesday’s successful signing day for Tucson-area players is only the beginning of things to come, according to Holliday.

“It should get better,” the future Sun Devils receiver said. “Arizona in general, but especially in Tucson, I think players get overlooked. They underestimate us, but that’s starting to change and I think more and more players from Tucson are going to start getting noticed.”

Staying in AZ

Several southern Arizona players signed letters of intent to play college football Wednesday. An in-depth recruiting list (all sports) can be found online at www.tucson citizen.com/misc/recruiting. Here are some of this year’s area commitments for in-state colleges:

University of Arizona

Jake Fischer, Ironwood Ridge

Adam Hall, Palo Verde

Arizona State

J.J. Holliday, Santa Rita

Northern Arizona

Scott Brown, Sabino

Stuart Tawney, Sabino

Kyle Walker, Sabino

Pima Community College

Travis Anderson, Palo Verde

Zach Booker, Ironwood Ridge

Scott Campbell, Ironwood Ridge

Nick Carlson, Ironwood Ridge

Ernie Escarcega, Cat. Foothills

C.J. Evenson, Mountain View

Andy Garcia, Nogales

Chris Johnson, Amphi

Marcus Klune, Ironwood Ridge

Mark Leal, Sunnyside

Michael Lukowski, Salpointe

Eric Marquez, Nogales

Daniel McIver, Catalina

Maambo Mumbuluma, Amphi

Malik Parra, Sunnyside

Leo Ramirez, Desert View

Luis Rodriguez, Salpointe

Griffin Ronstadt, Canyon del Oro

Joe Sayre, Salpointe

Marvin Snodgrass, Ironwood Ridge

Doug Steele, Canyon del Oro

Mike Trejo, Sunnyside

Eastern Arizona

Josh Carter, Mountain View

Javier Galindo, Pueblo

William Griffin, Tucson High

Allonte Singfield, Sahuarita

Deandre Tanguay-Penn, Canyon del Oro

Glendale CC

Ray Cottman, Ironwood Ridge

Gareth Facciano, Ironwood Ridge

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