The Arizona Wildcats have hired one of the state's top high school coaches with hopes of keeping more elite-level prospects from leaving.
Charlie Ragle, formerly the head coach at Scottsdale Chaparral, will serve as the UA's assistant director of football relations and the staff's liaison for high school relations. Ragle went 63-7 in five seasons at Chaparral, winning the last three state championships. He has coached many of the state's top prospects: Chaparral wide receiver Davonte Neal is considered the state's top undecided player.
Ragle, 35, said Tuesday he was excited to return to coaching at the college level. He spent the 2006 season as an offensive graduate assistant at Arizona State.
"For me and my career, this is the next step," Ragle said. "I certainly have a lot of goals and aspirations personally and professionally."
Ragle's job description "will be clearly defined over the next few weeks," he said.
"I want to go out there and do whatever it takes to help them win. A piece of that will be to help build a relationship with the Arizona (high school) coaches," he said. "Hopefully, with my relationships with these guys over the last 10 years, I can help make it a quicker transition. We want to make it a priority to keep the best kids in Arizona, and to get them to come to the University of Arizona."
Ragle has known Rodriguez and UA assistant Tony Dews since 2008, when the two college coaches recruited Chaparral stars Taylor Lewan and Craig Roh to Michigan.
Ragle reconnected with Rodriguez when he was hired as Arizona's coach Nov. 21.
"I reached out to them and expressed my interest," he said. "We had a relationship, and it went from there."
Ragle was one of four support-staffers hired Tuesday by Rodriguez, who was named the Wildcats' head coach Nov. 21:
• Matt Dudek was named director of on-campus recruiting. He spent the 2011 season at Rutgers. He served in a similar capacity at Pittsburgh under head coach Dave Wannstedt but was not retained when Todd Graham - now the coach at Arizona State - was hired a year ago.
• Parker Whiteman will serve as the UA's director of skill development and assistant strength coach. He worked alongside new strength coach Chris Allen at Michigan and West Virginia. Whiteman spent the past year as vice president at Barwis Methods, a personal training firm run by strength and conditioning guru Mike Barwis.
• Former NFL offensive lineman Frank Davis will work under Allen and Dudek in the weight room. Davis played collegiately at South Florida and spent the 2006 season with the NFL's Detroit Lions.
Rodriguez must hire three more defensive coaches and a handful of internal staffers. Rodriguez said he wanted to have a staff finalized last week but may have to wait until a handful of candidates are finished coaching in their bowl games.
Stoops, South Carolina a possible pairing
Mike Stoops played in the Big Ten Conference and coached in both the Big 12 and Pac-12.
Could the Southeastern Conference be next?
The former Arizona Wildcats coach is interested in South Carolina's vacant defensive coordinator position, he told a Columbia, S.C., newspaper. Ellis Johnson, the Gamecocks' assistant head coach for defense, was named head coach at Southern Miss on Tuesday.
Stoops has spoken with South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier, he told The State, but would not disclose the subject of the conversation. The two coaches have known each other for years. Stoops hired Spurrier's son, Steve Jr., to his UA staff after being hired in 2004.
Stoops, who was fired Nov. 10 with the UA mired in a 1-5 start, will likely wait until after the holidays to make up his mind. He has been linked to jobs at Oklahoma, where his brother Bob is the head coach, as well as positions at Ohio State and Nebraska.
"You hope you don't have to advertise too much and that people know how to get a hold of you if they are interested," Stoops told The State. "You let the process work itself out. I think people are getting ready for the bowl game and getting ready to wrap things up.
"We'll see how things go after that."