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Arizona football: With new facilities, Wildcats aiming high and far in recruiting

Rich Rodriguez

Rich Rodriguez is hoping to score with the 2014 recruiting class. Photo by Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona Wildcats coach Rich Rodriguez says the football program’s new facilities are a game-changer.

And that is allowing Rodriguez and his staff to take some big swings at some big recruits.

As Rodriguez prepares for his second season and his third recruiting class at Arizona, the Lowell-Stevens Football Facility isn’t just a concept; it’s a reality nearing completion. The team is scheduled to move into its new digs this summer.

I went through the major recruiting sites last week and made a list of top prospects who reportedly have a scholarship offer from Arizona.

The results: Arizona has offered 27 of the nation’s top 100 prospects, as rated in the 247Sports’ composite ranking of the major recruiting services.

Now, some are pipe dreams and only a handful of those players might end up with serious interest in Arizona. Some of these guys have dozens of top offers; Alabama, Ohio State, Oklahoma, etc. But we’re looking at the bigger picture here.

And the big picture is that with a nationally-known coach as Rodriguez, combined with the upgrade in facilities, the Wildcats at least have a chance to make a good first impression. They can knock on bigger doors and compete more aggressively in recruiting.

“I don’t know if that’s the right word, but that’s a good question,” Rodriguez said of the “aggressive” recruiting approach.

“We’ve been using (Lowell-Stevens) in recruiting since day one, but we’ve been showing pictures. Starting in July, we can actually take them through the facility, which is a big bonus.

“I think it answers some questions that recruits who don’t know much about us would have. That’s where I’m so excited. I think it’s a game-changer. I think we’ll probably see the results in this recruiting class and every class after that.”

Arizona is off to an excellent start with three committed prospects so far, including Salpointe Catholic receiver/defensive back Cameron Denson (No. 47 nationally in the composite rankings) and running back Nick Wilson from Fresno, Calif. (No. 201 in the composite rankings).

It’s the right time to make such a recruiting surge, with this expected to be a banner year for in-state high school recruits. Nine of the top 200 players in the composite rankings are from Arizona.

That leads us to the other point about Arizona’s recruiting. The Cats correctly want to focus close to home, but they also have spread their recruiting wings, finding at least initial interest in every corner of the country — from Florida to the Seattle area, from New Jersey to San Diego.

You can see the diversity of geography of Arizona targets from the list below, which, again, is reflective of the big picture. It’s a similar story as you look at the top 250 prospects or so who have some interest in the Cats.

Arizona also has a commitment from tight end Nick Nataro from Estero, Fla.

So, the Wildcats so far have one committed player from Arizona, California and Florida — right on plan.

“We have our base areas, and I’ve told our coaches I want to make sure we cover those areas really well, which is Arizona, California and Florida,” Rodriguez said.

“But I do think we have really good response from guys in some areas we wouldn’t necessarily recruit. They know about the program and they have shown really good interest. Our main areas are still our main areas, but we’ve gotten some really good interest from areas we didn’t think we’d have.”

Here are the top 100 players, as ranked in 247Sports composite ratings, who reportedly have a scholarship offer from Arizona:

3. OT Cameron Robinson, West Monroe (La.) West Monroe
12. CB Adoree’ Jackson, Gardena (Calif.) Serra
14. RB Jalen Hurd, Hendersonville (Tenn.) Beech Senior
15. OT Damian Prince, District Heights (Md.) Bishop McNamara
22. QB Keller Chryst, Palo Alto (Calif.) Palo Alto
26. RB Nathan Starks, Las Vegas Bishop Gorman
31. DL Nifae Lealao, Sacramento (Calif.) Capital Christian School
32. LB Clifton Garrett, Plainfield (Ill.) Plainfield
35. WR/S John Smith, Long Beach (Calif.) Poly
39. S Jamal Adams, Carrollton (Texas) Hebron
41. TE Tyler Luatua, La Mirada (Calif.) La Mirada
42. WR Drake Harris, Grand Rapids (Mich.) Grand Rapids Christian
45. ATH Budda Baker, Bellevue (Wash.) Bellevue
47. WR Cameron Denson, Tucson Salpointe
50. LB Nyles Morgan, Crete (Ill.) Crete-Monee
51. WR Malachi Dupree, New Orleans John Curtis
53. OT Jamarco Jones, Chicago De La Salle Institute
56. DT Travonte Valentine, Palm Bay (Fla.) Bayside
61. WR Mark Andrews, Scottsdale Desert Mountain
69. WR Jalen Brown, Phoenix Mountain Pointe
74. QB Kyle Allen, Scottsdale Desert Mountain
77. OL Andy Bauer, Saint Louis DeSmet
80. DE Deondre Clark, Oklahoma City Douglass
87. RB Derrell Scott, Havelock (N.C.) Havelock
91. RB Joe Mixon, Oakley (Calif.) Freedom
94. LB Dwight Williams, Gardena (Calif.) Serra
99. ATH Marquis Ware, Los Angeles Bishop Mora Salesian

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