There is significance to Arizona landing a verbal commitment from CDO’s Josh Robbins that goes beyond adding a talented safety to the fold. It also goes beyond adding the son of a former Wildcat great. It shows that Mike Stoops and Co. remain strong in their own backyard.
Certainly, Tucson is not known for a ton of high D-I talent. For a city it’s size, it actually produces very few prospects. That is why when a legit player does emerge in town, the Cats have to pounce.
For the most part the Cats have done just that. During the Mike Stoops era the Wildcats have extended written offers to just 13 local players and, with Robbins’ verbal, have landed nine of them.
The four players the Cats have missed out on have gone to Stanford, USC, Notre Dame and Nevada.
This year the Cats are batting just .500. While Robbins chose the Wildcats, Sabino’s Keanu Nelson could not say no to the academics and is a verbal commitment to Stanford.
Last year the Cats signed both Adam Hall (Palo Verde) and Jake Fischer (Ironwood Ridge) and both have made immediate contributions on special teams.
To be fair, the Cats did miss out on the highest rated player to come out of Tucson in a decade. Salpointe’s Kris O’Dowd chose USC over the Wildcats and started from day one for the Trojans, but has also battled injuries.
That year the Cats did sign Buena’s Devin Veal but he has not done much beyond special teams, but has also battled some tough personal tragedies.
2006 may have been the strangest year. The Wildcats signed two Sabino players in Glyndon Bolasky and Brooks Reed, but missed out on Salpointe’s John Romero. Romero chose to play for Nevada, despite having better offers. In a strange twist, Romero never played for the Wolfpack becoming one of three lancer linemen to sign a D-I scholarship but not last more than a year at the school as a football player.
Reed has gone on to have a terrific career, while Bolasky had to give up football for medical reasons.
2005 was also a strange class. The Wildcats went 2-2, signing both Xavier Smith and Daniel Borg. Both made an impact for the Wildcats, but neither completed his eligibility. Borg was a part-time starter but gave up football for academic pursuits. Smith was a reserve running back who, despite a personal tragedy of his own, was on track to graduate. Smith still had one year of eligibility left but was essentially told by the coaches that he did not have much of a role this upcoming season and was not with the team.
2004 was Stoops’ first recruiting class, which he got a late start on, so it is really hard to judge. The Mackovic staff extended offers to Salpointe’s John Kadous and Cienega’s Brandon Lopez. Kadous had committed to Notre Dame before Stoops was hired, but the team made a push for him but could not pry him away from the Irish. Lopez committed to the Mackovic staff but his scholarship was honored by the new staff.
Lopez had a solid career at Arizona after moving from linebacker to fullback. Kadous quit the Notre Dame football team his first year in South Bend, flirted with walking on at Arizona and ultimately re-enrolled at Notre Dame as a general student.
It should be noted that the Wildcats never officially extended an offer to Cienega offensive lineman Zach Davila, but were just waiting for him to attend their team camp to earn a scholarship. Davila committed to Utah just prior to the camp, so he was never offered.
The past few years a few other players signed with decent football schools, but none were offered scholarships by Arizona. Santa Rita’s J.J. Holiday signed with ASU last year, while Jamal Womble, Jovan Stevenson and Lucas Reed signed with North Carolina, Oregon State and New Mexico respectively. Reed, had a preferred walk-on offer, while the Cats pursued Womble for quite some time but never pulled the trigger on an offer.
Womble rushed for 41 yards this year for North Carolina, while Stevenson had 125 yards for the Beavers and was their third leading rusher.