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New Arizona Wildcats quarterbacks: Competitive, hungry, athletic

Rich Rodriguez

Rich Rodriguez has plenty of quarterbacks to choose from — all of them inexperienced at the Pac-12 level. Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Soon after he was hired in November 2011, Arizona Wildcats coach Rich Rodriguez was all alone with one quarterback on his roster.

He went to work. He has brought in 10 quarterbacks, including a trio on Wednesday’s Signing Day, in the past 13 months. He even tried to re-convert wide receiver Richard Morrison to the position.

Playing the odds?

“People have accused me before of collecting quarterbacks. Guilty as charged,” Rodriguez said with a chuckle Wednesday. “I like having a lot of quarterbacks and I like to have competition at that position and having at least two, preferably three, we can with.”

First, Arizona has to determine if it has one who can capably replace Matt Scott.

Arizona’s big theme of Signing Day — and the one that will endure for at least the next nine months — is the competition at the quarterback position.

The Wildcats added junior college transfer Jesse Scroggins at the semester break, signed high school star Anu Solomon on Wednesday and pulled a surprise by adding athletic Khari McGee to the recruiting class Wednesday.

Arizona lists McGee as an “athlete,” but Rodriguez says he will get a crack at quarterback.

“He was too good of an athlete not to take, whether it was as a quarterback or a receiver or what have you,” Rodriguez said. “Khari McGee can play at this level.”

Chances are better that Solomon is the future of the position. The Arizona staff identified him early in the recruiting process, about this time last year. Solomon’s numbers and his mountain of victories were obvious. After committing to Arizona last spring, he threw for 35 touchdowns, with only five interceptions, as a senior.

Rodriguez honed in on Solomon’s intangibles and made him an early, high-priority target.

“That’s part of the evaluation process that’s important to us,” Rodriguez said.

“We call them OKGs. Our Kinda Guys. Certainly, you have to have a certain size and ability, but also the type of mentality that they are competitive and want to keep getting better. Especially at the quarterback position — you want to have guys who are gym rats, so to speak.

“Guys who want to study the game, want to keep working on it, want to know everything there is about your program inside and out — and he’s one of them. He’s proven that throughout his high school career.”

Solomon went 56-4 at Las Vegas Bishop Gorman High and won four state titles as he passed for more than 10,000 yards.

“A lot of times, guys recruit on potential, and I understand that, but production is better than potential,” Rodriguez said.

“If you want to see a guy who will be productive in college, find a guy who was productive in high school.”

Well, that applies to Scroggins, too, although you have to go back to the 2009 season to find that production. After redshirting at USC in 2010, he played one snap in 2011 and transferred to El Camino Junior College in 2012.

He was bothered by knee and shoulder injuries last season, and his output was modest: He completed 79 of 172 passes for 1,148 yards, with eight touchdowns and five interceptions.

“I don’t want to say he was forgotten about, but I think he was kind of lingering about there in junior college land and maybe looking for a place to prove himself,” Rodriguez said.

“So, I think the timing was really good for us. I think he’s matured from his experiences and I think he’s hungry to prove himself all over again.”

Solomon and Scroggins fall into the same category — quarterbacks who are athletic guys, not athletic guys who are quarterbacks. The latter might better describe McGee. Whatever. RichRod has won with both styles of quarterback in his read-option offense.

“They are three guys who can athletically throw and run, and I think can all play quarterback at this level,” Rodriguez said.

Solomon is rated the nation’s No. 2 dual-threat quarterback by Rivals.com. Scroggins was the No. 5 pro-style QB in his class, according to Rivals.com.

While Solomon finishes high school, Scroggins gets the first chance to make an impression in spring ball, which begins March 2.

The other scholarship quarterbacks vying this spring will be senior B.J. Denker and redshirt freshman Javelle Allen. Redshirt freshman Josh Kern has been moved to tight end/H-Back, Rodriguez said.

The Cats also have Louisiana Tech starter Nick Isham and fellow walk-on Jack Nykaza.

So, let the competition begin.

Now we just have to wait and see if The Collector has accumulated anything valuable.

Related link: Anu Solomon: Another Russell Wilson?

Arizona’s 25 signed players

Player Pos. Ht. Wt. School Hometown 247 Rivals Scout
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. 4 3 4
Jack Banda DE 6-4 225 Grayson HS Loganville, Ga. 2 3 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 4
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
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
T.J. Johnson ATH 5-7 165 Island Coast HS Cape Coral, Fla. 3 3 3
Mauriece Lee RB 5-8 185 Marcos De Niza HS Tempe 3 3 3
David Maka DT 6-5 350 Tustin HS Tustin, Calif. 2 3 3
Khari McGee QB/ATH 6-2 205 Edison HS Fresno, Calif. 3 3 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
Jesse Scroggins+ QB 6-1 200 El Camino JC Torrance, Calif. 3 NR 3
Anu Solomon QB 6-0 195 Bishop Gorman HS Las Vegas 3 4 4
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 3
Lee Walker WR 6-0 175 Madison HS San Diego, Calif. 3 3 2
Philip Wright LB 6-1 225 Cardinal Newman HS Santa Rosa, Calif. 2 2 2


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