The Arizona Wildcats could be poised for a recruiting bonanza thanks to, of all people, Oregon coach Chip Kelly.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers hired Rutgers coach Greg Schiano Thursday, three days after Kelly - the white-hot coach of college football's most dynamic offense - turned down NFL millions to stay with the Ducks.
The movement portends good things for Arizona, which can still add eight or nine players to coach Rich Rodriguez's first recruiting class before Wednesday's letter-of-intent day.
Expect Arizona to focus on many of Rutgers' top recruits should they decide to look elsewhere. The UA's director of on-campus recruiting, Matt Dudek, worked for the Scarlet Knights until last month. And new assistants Calvin Magee, Tony Dews, Tony Gibson, Jeff Casteel, Bill Kerlawich and David Lockwood all have experience recruiting the East Coast.
Four-star quarterback Devin Fuller, a Rutgers target, visited the UA earlier this week. The Old Tappan (N.J.) High School star tweeted pictures of himself in Arizona jerseys and wrote the midweek visit was "better than I thought it would be."
Faint praise, sure, but better than what recruiting experts are saying about Rutgers. CBS analyst Tom Lemming told the Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger Thursday that Schiano's departure "will absolutely destroy recruiting this close to signing day." Rutgers named Kyle Flood acting head coach, but has vowed a national search for Schiano's replacement.
Rutgers athletic director Tim Pernetti said Thursday that the program is going to stand for the same things to its recruits, regardless of who the coach is.
"The core values are things that are never going to be sacrificed," he said in a news release. "We are still going to rely on our players and our student-athletes in the program in hopes that the student-athletes and recruits look at us and say, 'This is the right or wrong kind of person to have at Rutgers.' We are going to continue to do all the things that we have done that have made it what it is today. I think that is the main message we will send. "
Perhaps no available recruit fits Arizona's spread-option system better than Fuller, who the Scout.com recruiting service lists as the nation's third-best dual-threat quarterback. He threw for 2,247 yards and 20 touchdowns, and rushed for 1,326 yards and 17 scores as a high school senior.
Fuller, a U.S. Army All-American, plans to announce his college choice Sunday. Most expected him to choose Rutgers, his hometown team and the first program that offered him a scholarship.
It's not known if, or how, Thursday's news will affect Fuller's decision. He has already taken the maximum allowable recruiting visits, meaning he would have to pay his own way to reopen his recruitment. Baylor tried to convince Fuller to visit last week, but the quarterback chose to take an official trip to Arizona instead.
Scout.com recruiting analyst Brian Dohn said earlier this week that Rutgers was Fuller's likely leader.
That could change.
"Rutgers was the first to offer, it's close to his house, and he's built a real relationship with the coach who's recruiting him," Dohn said. "But how does he fit into the offense, and can he play quarterback there? To read what's going on, I think if Devin knew exactly what he was doing, maybe he would have committed to Rutgers already."
Hawaiian TIGHT END COMMITS TO CATS
Arizona received a commitment Thursday from Keoni Bush-Loo, a two-star tight end from Honolulu's famed Kamehameha High School.
The Scout.com recruiting service lists Bush-Loo, a 6-foot-3-inch, 238-pound senior, as a two-star recruit and the 64th-best tight end in the country. He chose the UA over offers from 10 schools, including Hawaii, Nebraska, Washington, Boise State and Cal.
Bush-Loo was recruited by Arizona offensive line coach Robert Anae, a native of Lai'e, Hawaii.
Bush-Loo is Arizona's 18th known verbal commitment. Players can sign letters of intent Wednesday.