Cornerback Jalen Tabor committed to Arizona over Alabama on national television Thursday afternoon, giving the Wildcats one of their biggest recruiting coups ever.
Tabor, who made the announcement on ESPN during the Under Armour All-America Game in St. Petersburg, Fla., is rated as high as the 15th-best recruit in the nation by ESPN.com.
Tabor (6-1, 182) had narrowed his choices to Arizona and Alabama after eliminating Florida and Maryland. He is from Friendship Collegiate Academy in Washington D.C., the same school as running back Jonathan Haden, who committed to the Wildcats in May.
Both are expected to enroll at Arizona for the spring semester.
In other rankings, Tabor is 24th nationally by Rivals.com, 38th nationally by Scout.com and 53rd nationally by 247Sports.
“When I went on my visit, it was just a lot of family atmosphere-type stuff,” Tabor said on ESPN, explaining his decision. “They play for each other down there. I feel I can go in and provide a spark right away.”
Tabor visited Arizona in mid-November, attending the Cats’ upset loss to Washington State. His lead recruiter was receivers coach Tony Dews.
“It’s a very home atmosphere,” Tabor said of Arizona in an interview a few days ago. “I want to win a Rose Bowl. I want to go there and do something special that’s never been done before.”
Recruiting analysts rave about Tabor’s size and athleticism.
“He brings a tremendous skill set on the perimeter in a game where you’ve got to have height and length,” Tom Luginbill, a senior national recruiting analyst for ESPN.com, said on the telecast.
“Those two things are the most coveted traits right now in corners because of the size of the receivers … who can just win one-on-one matchups. His athleticism is just going to be awesome there.”
Coach Rich Rodriguez, putting together his third UA recruiting class, has brought in former highly rated prospects as transfers (receivers Davonte’ Neal and Cayleb Jones, and quarterbacks Jesse Scroggins, Connor Brewer and Jerrard Randall), but Tabor will be the school’s best-ranked high school signee in the on-line era of recruiting services, which dates back a dozen years or so.
In that time, the only UA high school signee to be ranked in the national Top 100 by Rivals and Scout was cornerback Devin Ross in 2006.
Here are Arizona’s top high school recruits since 2002, according to Rivals:
2013 — QB Anu Solomon, No. 99
2010 — S Marquis Flowers, No. 78
2006 — CB Devin Ross, No. 71
Here are Arizona’s national Top 100 recruits, according to Scout:
2008 — DB Robert Golden, No. 37
2007 — TE Rob Gronkowski, No. 64
2006 — CB Devin Ross, No. 70
Going back further, the candidates for top-ranked Arizona recruit of the past 25 years likely starts with 1989 Parade All-American running back Michael Bates from Amphi, and Sahuaro offensive lineman Mike Ciasca (rated the top OL in the country by SuperPrep in 1990).
Running backs Leo Mills (SuperPrep’s No. 5 RB in 1998) and Chuck Levy (Parade All-American) are among others. Former coach Dick Tomey once said tight end Brandon Manumaleuna, who picked the Cats over USC at the last minute before the 1997 signing day, was as highly recruited as anybody he signed during his 14 years in Tucson.
Cornerback Chris McAlister deserves mention here, too, although he didn’t join Arizona directly out of high school, signing with UCLA before spending a season in junior college.
One of the top recruits ever at Arizona was five-star defensive lineman Louis Holmes, from Scottsdale Community College. Holmes, rated the No. 1 JC recruit that year, signed with UA in December 2005 despite huge recruiting pushes from USC and LSU.
Here is a look at Arizona’s recruiting class:
|Devon Brewer||S||6-0||175||Central East, Fresno, Calif.||2||3||3|
|Rodney Carr||DB||6-0||185||Salesian High, Los Angeles||4||3||3|
|Darrell Cloy||TE||6-3||220||La Habra (Calif.) High||3||3||3|
|Jamardre Cobb||LB||6-2||225||Salesian High, Los Angeles||4||4||4|
|Jerod Cody*||DE||6-3||265||Glendale (Ariz.) Community College||3||2||2|
|Brandon Dawkins||QB||6-3||205||Oaks Christian, Westlake Village, Calif.||3||3||3|
|Kaelin Deboskie||WR||5-9||165||Salpointe Catholic, Tucson||3||3||3|
|Cameron Denson||WR||6-1||170||Salpointe Catholic, Tucson||4||4||4|
|Tony Ellison||WR||5-11||170||Granite Bay (Calif.) High||3||2||3|
|Layth Friekh||OL||6-5||250||Centennial High, Peoria||4||3||3|
|Patrick Glover*||CB||6-2||212||Scottsdale C.C.||2||3||2|
|Jonathan Haden||RB||5-8||189||Friendship Collegiate Academy, Washington D.C.||3||3||3|
|Naijiel Hale||CB||5-11||170||St. John Bosco High, Bellflower, Calif.||4||3||4|
|J.R. Hunt||S||6-3||190||Chandler High||3||3||3|
|Kaige Lawrence*||OL||6-4||290||Chaffey C.C., Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.||3||3||2|
|Kwesi Mashack||CB||5-10||190||Murrieta High, Vista, Calif.||3||3||3|
|Jordan Morgan||WR||6-2||200||Southridge High, Beaverton, Ore.||3||2||3|
|Josh Pollack||P/K||5-11||165||Highland Park (Ill.) High||2||2||3|
|Jordan Poland||OT||6-8||335||La Jolla (Calif.) Country Day||3||4||3|
|Jerrard Randall*||QB||6-1||190||Northeast Mississippi C.C.||2||NR||3|
|Antonio Smothers*||LB||6-2||230||Scottsdale C.C.||3||3||3|
|Jalen Tabor||CB||6-1||182||Friendship Collegiate Academy, Washington D.C.||5||4||4|
|Levi Walton||OL||6-4||280||Baker High, Cape Coral, Fla.||3||2||2|
|Marquis Ware||LB||6-2||210||Salesian High, Los Angeles||4||4||4|
|Jace Whittaker||DB||5-9||150||Oceanside (Calif.) High||2||3||2|
|Sharif Williams||DT||6-2||300||Central East, Fresno, Calif.||3||3||3|
|Nick Wilson||RB||6-0||191||Central East, Fresno, Calif.||4||4||4|
|Trevor Wood||TE||6-6||238||Chaparral High, Scottsdale||3||3||3|
|Jeff Worthy*||DT||6-3||285||Santa Ana (Calif.) College||3||3||3|
* — Signed