Arizona recruiting: Safety from San Antonio decommits from Cats

2011-10-13T00:00:00Z 2011-10-13T06:06:22Z Arizona recruiting: Safety from San Antonio decommits from CatsRyan Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
October 13, 2011 12:00 am  • 

Mike Stoops' dismissal has already cost the Arizona Wildcats a recruit.

Leo Thomas, a safety from San Antonio's Houston High School, has re-opened his commitment and will consider offers from Colorado, Wake Forest, SMU, UTEP and North Texas. Thomas told The Sporting News that he "already decommitted (Monday)" once learning Stoops had left.

"I would tell Coach Stoops that even though the Arizona Wildcats started off slow this year, I know Coach Stoops is still awesome and outgoing, and I wish I could still be around him," Thomas told TSN.

The Scout.com recruiting service lists the 6-foot-1-inch, 175-pound Thomas as a three-star recruit and the nation's 85th-best safety. Thomas verbally committed to the UA in August, choosing the Wildcats over an offer from Missouri.

Thomas isn't alone. Most of Arizona's 16 remaining verbal commitments, including star tight end Taylor McNamara, will be in wait-and-see mode until a replacement is hired. Arizona still has a chance to land most of its current recruits.

Football is unique that way, said Brandon Huffman, the West Coast recruiting editor for Scout.com. Unlike basketball, where most recruits are tied to a specific coach, football commitment carries more of an emotional pull.

"Guys usually stick it out," Huffman said. "At this point, they're probably getting poked by every other school in their conference. Everybody's probably calling them. There's a tendency for guys to open things.

"At the end of the day, they usually fall in love with the university and not necessarily the coach."

Verbal commitments are nonbinding, meaning Thomas could always re-commit to the Wildcats if he likes the program's new coach.

Interim coach Tim Kish will lead Arizona's recruiting efforts until a replacement is found. UA athletic director Greg Byrne will be allowed to recruit for the program thanks to an NCAA rule that permits administrators to step in as a "replacement due to extenuating circumstances."

Byrne will abide by the same recruiting rules as Arizona's eight remaining full-time coaches, said Bill Morgan, the UA's assistant athletic director in charge of compliance. For instance, Byrne is now permitted to call recruits; before, he could only return calls from interested recruits.

"This time of year, we're allowed one phone call per week per prospect," Morgan said. "As one of the nine, (Byrne) can initiate the call."

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