Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Arizona football recruiting notes: Wildcats busy in Florida

Rich Rodriguez

Rich Rodriguez has ample recruiting ties to Florida from his days coaching at West Virginia. Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona Wildcats coach Rich Rodriguez will continue to make Florida a recruiting target.

He and several members of his staff have long recruiting ties and good coaching relationships in the state, and Arizona has brought in four players from Florida in the first two recruiting classes — redshirt freshman receivers Trey Griffey and Clive Georges, redshirt freshman running back J.T. Washington and incoming freshman receiver T.J. Johnson.

The Cats also have walk-on freshman linebacker Shadow Williams from Tampa.

Arizona won’t stop there, receiving a commitment earlier this week from tight end Nick Nataro from Estero (Fla.) High School. Nataro (6-4, 235) caught 44 passes for about 600 yards and six touchdowns last season.

His high school coach, Rich Dombroski, told the Naples News that Arizona projects Nataro to play tight end and receiver.

“He’s got great speed for a big guy. He runs the 40 in 4.6,” Dombroski said.

Nataro is the second commitment in Arizona’s 2013 class, joining four-star Salpointe Catholic receiver Cameron Denson.

Arizona has many other Florida targets, including offering scholarships this week to a pair of players from Orlando’s Dr. Phillips High, Griffey’s alma mater. The Cats are pursuing athlete Deionte Gaines and receiver Roderick Proctor.

More state of Florida recruiting: Arizona also recently offered scholarships to linebacker Jaylon Graham from Eustis (Fla.) High, receiver Garrett Johnson from West Orange High in Winter Garden and linebacker Greg Miclisse and four-star defensive tackle Travonte Valentine from Bayside High in Palm Bay. Valentine has an offer list a mile long, including Alabama, LSU, Ohio State and Oklahoma.

* * *

Arizona’s recruiting focus will be California and Arizona, with a little bit of Florida, and the Wildcats will dabble elsewhere.

Other recent offers include defensive tackle Poona Ford from Hilton Head, S.C.; national top 100 offensive tackle Andy Bauer from St. Louis; national top 100 linebacker Nyles Morgan from Crete, Ill.; national top 100 receiver Malachi Dupre from New Orleans; and national top 100 defensive end/tight end Garrett Dickerson from Bergen Catholic in Oradell, N.J.

The Cats also have targeted recruits in Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Alabama and Georgia among other states.

There is a swinging-for-the-fences attitude here, with the Cats hoping to connect a few times.

* * *

While the Wildcats build their 2014 recruiting class, they are working on 2015 and 2016 as well. They already have a quarterback for 2016 — Shea Patterson from Hidalgo (Texas) High.

“Recruiting is never over,” Rodriguez said this week. “We do something recruiting two or three hours every day, whether it’s evaluation or e-mailing or preparing for unofficial visits. The recruiting is non-stop.”

A couple of weeks ago, Arizona offered a scholarship to 2015 offensive tackle Zack Okun from Newbury Park (Calif.) High School. He also has offers from UCLA, Washington and Kansas State, and will soon pick up many more as he projects as one of the best offensive linemen in the class.

Perhaps Okun can be influenced by Newbury Park’s co-offensive coordinators — former Arizona quarterback Keith Smith and ex-UA offensive lineman Joe Smigiel.

Search site | Terms of service