Arizona coach Mike Stoops’ highest-rated recruiting class was his 2006 group — ranked 18th nationally by Rivals.com and 19th by Scout.com.
That worked out well for the Wildcats.
With Wednesday being Signing Day, it’s standard for coaches to deliver something along these lines: “We won’t know about how good this class is for at least three years.”
Well, with the class of 2006, all the evidence is in.
Of the 25 players who signed in February 2006, eight never really contributed because of medical problems, academics, transfers, etc. That’s going to happen. The notable part of the class is that the Wildcats got so many long-standing contributions from the majority of the class.
Fourteen became Pac-10-quality starters, and a couple others were key reserves/special teams players.
Here is a look at what happened to Stoops’ 2006 recruiting class:
DT Conan Amituanai
Moved to offense early in his career. Started six games in 2009 and every game as a senior.
TE Cody Anderson
Anderson, who had become a backup offensive tackle, did not return after the 2007 season.
OL Colin Baxter
Started 48 consecutive games at Arizona and became one of the top centers in the nation.
DB Glyndon Bolasky
Sabino high graduate went on a medical scholarship in spring 2009 because of a back injury.
DE Braylon Broughton
Never made it to Arizona because of academic reasons and landed at TCU, where he made 11 tackles as a backup last season.
ATH Delashaun Dean
Made 131 career receptions but left the team in the summer of 2010 after being indefinitely suspended following a charge of misconduct involving a weapon. Dean transferred to Texas A&M-Kingsville and suffered a torn ACL last season.
OL Cory Elmore
Ricky Elmore’s twin underwent open heart surgery in the summer of 2007 after doctors found a hole in his heart. Had to give up football but is having success as a body-builder.
DE Ricky Elmore
A three-year starter who had 25.5 career sacks, ranking second in Arizona history behind Tedy Bruschi (52 sacks).
OL Jovon Hayes
Started 11 games last season at right guard after being a backup for his first three seasons.
DE Louis Holmes
The junior college transfer never lived up to his five-star hype, but he was a two-year starter.
DT Gabe Long
Another highly touted junior college prospect, Long never made it to Arizona because of academics and ended up at Utah.
QB Tyler Lyon
Playing quarterback didn’t work out — neither did moves to tight end and receiver — but he left after four seasons with his degree.
DT Lolomana Mikaele
A defensive captain in 2010 and a solid force in the middle of the line, with 34 tackles, including 8.5 for loss as a senior.
FB Earl Mitchell
Made the most of a switch to defensive tackle after his sophomore season, becoming a third-round pick of the Houston Texas in the 2010 NFL draft.
DB Cam Nelson
A three-year starting safety and a second-team All-Pac-10 choice as a senior in 2009, Nelson made 74 tackles, with three sacks, three forced fumbles and one interception last year.
DB Nate Ness
Junior college transfer was second on the team in tackles with 75 in 2008. Ness, an undrafted free agent in 2009, ended the 2010 season with the Miami Dolphins.
RB Brooks Reed
Became a hard-charging defensive end who earned first-team All-Pac-10 honors as a senior, when he had 10 tackles for loss, including 6.5 sacks. He and Ricky Elmore were 34-game starters at end.
DE D’Aundre Reed
Considered a starting-quality end by the UA coaches, Reed was a key part of the rotation for the past three seasons.
WR Terrell Reese
Did not return after the 2008 season.
ATH Derke Robinson
Four-star recruit ran into NCAA clearinghouse issues and enrolled at Stephen F. Austin in the fall of 2006.
DB Devin Ross
Two-year starter was second-team All-Pac-10 in 2008 and led the team with 81 tackles in 2009.
DE A.J. Simmons
The two-way player was given tight end duties when he arrived. Not a big pass-catcher, but he was the team’s top tight end in the past two seasons.
OL James Tretheway
Junior college transfer started some games in 2008 as a senior.
DB Mike Turner
Saw decent time this season in dime coverages and was a valuable special teams player the past two seasons. Will be remembered for the victory over ASU in 2009, when his late-game recovery of Kyle Williams’ muffed punt allowed Arizona to kick the game-winning field goal.
WR Terrell Turner
Dependable three-year starter ended his career in 2009 with 142 career receptions, including a team-high 48 in 2009.
Note: Keenyn Crier, a four-year starter at punter, was also a fifth-year senior after arriving at Arizona as a walk-on.