Arizona Football

Arizona football: Wildcats relaxed, quiet as signing day approaches

2014-01-22T00:00:00Z Arizona football: Wildcats relaxed, quiet as signing day approachesBy Daniel Berk Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

This should be a time for stress and last-minute sales pitches.

Arizona coaches should be frantically trying to lock up the final pieces of their 2014 recruiting class, as well as panicking about which players they may get an 11th-hour commitment from and which players they may lose out on.

Instead, all is quiet at Lowell-Stevens Football Facility.

With exactly two weeks left until national signing day, the UA’s 28-man 2014 class could very well be finished.

In fact, the Wildcats have been in good shape for a while now. Arizona has added just five pieces to its class since September, and did most of its heavy lifting in the summer.

So the UA’s recruiting class, ranked 16th in the country by the Scout.com recruiting service and 22nd by Rivals.com, may not have room for too many more players.

Rich Rodriguez and the Wildcats hosted 15 recruits last weekend — one of the busiest weekends of the year for official visits — and 14 of them came to Tucson having already verbally committed to the UA.

The only uncommitted recruit to visit Arizona last weekend was Nick Gates, a four-star offensive tackle from Las Vegas Bishop Gorman High School. Gates is also considering Nebraska, Oregon, Texas A&M and UCLA.

Gates, listed at 6 feet 5 inches and 270 pounds, would be a nice addition to an already solid class.

Sabino High School’s Andrew Mike remains uncommitted — and while he lists the UA in his final three, it seems unlikely that the offensive tackle will stay home.

Rodriguez’s third recruiting class includes two quarterbacks, two running backs, five wide receivers, two tight ends, four offensive linemen, three defensive linemen, three linebackers, two safeties, four cornerbacks and one kicker. By Scout’s rankings, it includes five four-star prospects, 20 three-star prospects and three two-star players.

Rodriguez and his staff will spend most of the week checking in on the commits and making sure they are still sold on Arizona. So far, only one recruit — cornerback Naijiel Hale — has taken an official visit to another school. Everyone else has remained quiet.

Of course, anything can happen on signing day. Earlier this month, cornerback Jalen Tabor committed to the UA and then decommitted seven days later, proving how fluid the situation can be.

But if things remain the same, the next two weeks will be quiet for Arizona. The Wildcats’ 28 commitments are the most of any Pac-12 school, and only four others — Arizona State, Utah, Oregon State and Colorado — have 20 or more commitments.

Richardson’s big week

When Shaq Richardson was invited to the East-West Shrine Game last month, his goal was simple.

“I just want to go down there and show I belong and play hard,” Richardson told the Star in December.

The cornerback from Carson, Calif., did more than that at Saturday’s college all-star game in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Richardson intercepted Northern Illinois signal-caller and Heisman finalist Jordan Lynch. Richardson, now listed at 6  feet 1 inch and 188 pounds, impressed scouts and observers in practice and in the game, which his West team lost 23-13.

NFL.com analyst Bucky Brooks was one of the many who complimented the former UA corner.

“Arizona CB Shaquille Richardson has been one of the most impressive corners on the field this week. He has consistently made plays on the ball in 1-on-1 drills, displaying outstanding quickness, footwork and movement skills,” Brooks wrote. “Additionally, Richardson has impressed evaluators with his size/speed combination and his competiveness in coverage.”

Richardson was projected as a seventh-round pick by Bleacher Report draft analyst Matt Miller before the game.

If Richardson is not picked in May’s NFL draft, it would mark the first time since 2004-05 that the Wildcats won’t have had a senior picked in back-to-back drafts.

Receiver Terrence Miller, another Wildcat with NFL aspirations, played in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl on Saturday in California and had one catch for 2 yards.

New numbers

The UA has officially added 10 mid-year players to its roster.

Six of the players are junior college transfers who signed with the UA last month. The other four are a mixed batch. Offensive tackle Freddie Tagaloa transferred from Cal and will sit out the 2014 season. Receiver T.J. Johnson signed with the UA last year but was ruled academically ineligible. He spent the past semester at a prep school, and is now on the UA’s roster. The other two — running back Jonathan Haden and kicker Michael Unzicker — are high school products who graduated early.

All 10 will be with the UA for spring drills, and they all officially have uniform numbers. They are: defensive end Jerod Cody (91), cornerback Patrick Glover (8), offensive guard Kaige Lawrence (75), quarterback Jerrard Randall (8), linebacker Antonio Smothers (58), defensive lineman Jeff Worthy (55), Tagaloa (72), Johnson (2), Haden (7) and Unzicker (87).

Contact reporter Daniel Berk at dberk@azstarnet.com or 573-4330. On Twitter @DSBerk.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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