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Helped by coaching connections, Arizona lands speedy JC athlete from Georgia

The Arizona Wildcats’ big recruiting weekend, and the team’s 39-36 upset of USC, netted a commitment from a junior college speedster.

Mario Alford, a versatile offensive skill player from Georgia Military College, committed before he returned home with three of his teammates who also were on official visits. One of those, linebacker Brandon Golson, said earlier this month he would be a Wildcat (more on him below).

Alford (5-9, 170) was timed in 4.43 seconds for 40 yards at the Atlanta MVP Camp in April 2010.

“He has been exceptional any time we get the ball in his hands — out of the backfield, as a receiver, on reverses, on sweeps,” GMC offensive coordinator Ross Robinson said Monday morning.

“From everything I have been told, Arizona is going to use him like we use him, as a ‘package’ guy. We use him in all different ways.”

Alford, according to NJCAA.com, is averaging more than 10 yards per carry this season — 55 rushes for 580 yards. He also has eight catches for 199 yards and two scores.

Alford is rated a four-star recruit by 247Sports and the ninth-best junior college prospect overall. Rivals.com and Scout.com give Alford three stars out of five.

Alford, from Greenville, Ga., also had offers from Ole Miss, Texas Tech and Kansas, according to recruiting services. He is on pace to graduate from Georgia Military in May, Robinson said.

Mario Alford

Mario Alford

Alford was in Tucson last weekend with three others from Georgia Military — Golson, defensive back Tiquention Coleman and 350-pound offensive lineman Trenton Brown.

Golson is a 6-3, 230-pound outside linebacker who originally signed with South Carolina.

“For his size, he has exceptional speed,” Robinson said. “A sideline-to-sideline guy. He could line up at tailback tomorrow and be just as good as some guys. He can really run. He’s very athletic and put together very well.”

Georgia Military, located in Milledgeville, Ga., is a new place for Arizona to be recruiting, but there are ties and long friendships between members of the coaching staff. One example: GMC defensive line coach Brian Hill played for UA head coach Rich Rodriguez at Glenville State 20 years ago, which means Hill also has ties to defensive backs coach Tony Gibson, who played at Glenville at that time.

Robinson said he and Gibson also used to work camps together.

It might not be unusual in future years for Arizona to go back to Georgia Military, where Robinson said the Cats’ geographic uniqueness in terms of recruiting is a plus.

“I’ve talked to the kids about this before,” Robinson said.

“With Arizona, everything is different from the type of school you get recruited by around here. It’s different from the SEC schools. I think it plays a big-time role for Arizona in a positive way.”

Here is an updated list of Arizona’s committed recruits:

Player Pos. Ht. Wt. School Hometown 247 Rivals Scout
Mario Alford ATH 5-10 180 Georgia Military Milledgeville, GA 4 3 3
Calvin Allen DE 6-5 225 La Cueva HS Albuquerque, N.M. 3 3 3
Jacob Alsadek OT 6-7 332 Torrey Pines HS San Diego, Calif. 3 3 3
Derek Babiash CB 6-1 165 Poway HS Poway, Calif. 3 3 4
Jack Banda DE 6-4 225 Grayson HS Loganville, Ga. 2 2 2
Luca Bruno DL 6-4 280 Oak Park HS Oak Park, Calif. 3 3 3
Pierre Cormier RB 5-10 180 Madison HS San Diego, Calif. 4 3 3
Ryan Dunn LB 6-3 210 San Ramon Valley HS Danville, Calif. 3 3 3
Paul Elvira WR 5-11 175 Marcos De Niza HS Tempe 2 2 2
Brandon Golson LB 6-3 230 Georgia Military Milledgeville, Ga. 3 3 3
Samajie Grant WR 5-10 170 Colony HS Ontario, Calif. 3 3 3
Zachary Green RB 5-10 210 St. Bonaventure HS Ventura, Calif. 3 3 3
Steven Gurrola C 6-2 280 Glendale CC Glendale 2 3 3
Devin Holiday DB 5-10 170 Mission Hills HS San Marcos, Calif. 3 3 3
Prince Holloway CB 5-9 160 Hutchinson CC Hutchinson, Kan. 3 3 3
Mauriece Lee RB 5-8 185 Marcos De Niza HS Tempe 3 3 3
Tony Mekari DT 6-2 270 Westlake HS Westlake Vill., Calif. 3 2 2
DeAndre Miller LB 6-3 215 Buckeye HS Buckeye 3 3 3
R.J. Morgan DB 6-2 210 Crater Academy Central Point, Ore. 2 2 2
Nate Phillips WR 5-9 165 Basha HS Chandler 3 2 2
Anu Solomon QB 6-0 195 Bishop Gorman HS Las Vegas 3 4 3
Logan Stott OG 6-3 300 Pine View HS Saint George, Utah 3 4 3
Derrick Turituri LB 6-2 225 Crater Academy Central Point, Ore. 3 2 2
Lee Walker WR 6-0 175 Madison HS San Diego, Calif. NR 2 2
Tommy Woodson QB 6-1 215 Gateway HS Monroeville, Pa. 2 2 2
Philip Wright LB 6-1 225 Cardinal Newman HS Santa Rosa, Calif. 2 2 2
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