When Rich Rodriguez hosted a recruit during his first two seasons at the UA, there was one thing he tried to avoid like the plague.
“We never showed them the game-day locker room (at Arizona Stadium),” Rodriguez said Wednesday, “and we hoped they didn’t ask to see it.”
With the new $72 million Lowell-Stevens Football Facility as the coach’s ace in the hole, Rodriguez wrapped up his 2014 recruiting class without having to worry about hiding any warts.
Combine that with the fact that the coach is preparing for his third season at Arizona, and Rodriguez’s class, which became official on national signing day on Wednesday, is his best yet.
All total, Rodriguez and the Wildcats signed 16 players on Wednesday to go with nine mid-year enrollees already on campus. The class was ranked No. 23 by ESPN.com, No. 28 by Rivals.com and No. 30 by Scout.com. ESPN has the class as the fourth-best in the Pac-12, while Rivals and Scout put it at sixth.
How accurate that turns out to be obviously remains to be seen.
“Obviously every coach in America is pretty excited today,” Rodriguez said. “I think we got a little bit of everything in this recruiting class. I think we met a lot of our needs and some of our wants.
“We think from an impact and talent standpoint, each year our recruiting has gotten better and better.”
The Wildcats didn’t have to go but a couple of miles to find the headliner of the class.
Salpointe Catholic High School star Cameron Denson was one of the 16 to make his commitment to the Wildcats official on Wednesday.
It was a long time coming — the four-star recruit committed to the UA nearly 13 months ago. Rodriguez said Denson will play mostly wide receiver but will also return kicks and could see some time as a third-down cornerback.
“I’ve told him this before, but he was probably the lowest-maintenance high-profiled guy that I’ve ever recruited,” Rodriguez said. “He wasn’t needing attention. He didn’t need people on him the whole time. He just went and played ball and won a state championship. It was a real joy to recruit him and his family.
“Cam was the headliner for us to start with.”
Denson said the coach wants him at as many spring practices as possible to start learning the hand signals.
“It feels good that it’s finally done,” Denson said. “I’ve wanted to sign that paper since last January, but it wasn’t my time.
“I want to win a Pac-12 championship and be on the first team to win a Rose Bowl.”
Luckily for Denson, he’ll have some help.
The UA also received letters of intent from a pair of four-star linebackers and high school teammates in Jamardre Cobb and Marquis Ware out of Salesian High School in Los Angeles.
The duo decided early in their recruitment that they would be a package deal. They turned down offers from schools like Florida State, Miami (Fla.), Nebraska, UCLA and Wisconsin.
Cobb could be a candidate for immediate playing time at middle linebacker. Rodriguez said Ware might play outside linebacker or defensive end, and will be counted on as a pass-rusher early in his career.
“With these guys, you watch film, and 30 seconds into it, you’re like, ‘Wow,’ ” Rodriguez said. “These guys are explosive. Some people tackle, and some people hit and tackle. Cobb and Ware absolutely blow you up. They’ll hit and tackle you.
“After getting to know them after they took the time to visit here, we thought they’d be terrific for the program because they love football so much, and they’re hungry.”
The Wildcats added another four-star defensive player to the mix early Wednesday morning when Bellevue, Wash., product Marcus Griffin committed to the UA. He chose Arizona over Cal, Mississippi State and Washington State during a signing-day ceremony at his school.
He can play both defensive end and tackle for the UA. The 6-foot-3-inch, 292-pound lineman was originally committed to Washington State in November but decommitted and reopened his recruitment.
The Wildcats didn’t get involved until last month but did enough to sign him.
“When he visited a couple of weeks ago, everything else was wrapped up,” Rodriguez said. “We needed more D-linemen. That’s one area we have to continue to build our depth in.”
Rodriguez said the UA could still add a couple of players to the class in the coming weeks.
One is expected to be Salpointe wide receiver Kaelin Deboskie, who committed to Arizona in October.
Deboskie was scheduled to sign Wednesday, but has a transcript issue to resolve first. Deboskie transferred to Salpointe from a school in Texas last January.
“I have to get it fixed and then talk to (the coaches),” Deboskie told the Star.
If Deboskie does sign with the Wildcats, he will be the fourth Arizona high school product in the class, joining 11 recruits from California.
“As far as a true home base, it’s Arizona and California and Southwest Florida,” Rodriguez said. “This class reflects where we’re spending more time.”
Arizona's 2014 football class of recruits
|Name||Position||Height/weight||Hometown||Scout.com star ranking|
|Devon Brewer||S||6-0/175||Fresno, Calif.||Three stars|
|Rodney Carr||CB||5-11/183||Los Angeles||Three stars|
|Darrell Cloy||TE||6-3/220||La Habra, Calif.||Three stars|
|Jamardre Cobb||LB||6-2/215||Los Angeles||Four stars|
|Jerod Cody*||DL||6-2/280||Las Vegas||Two stars|
|Brandon Dawkins||QB||6-4/215||Westlake Village, Calif.||Three stars|
|Kaelin Deboskie||WR||5-9/165||Tucson||Three stars|
|Cameron Denson||WR||6-1/165||Tucson||Four stars|
|Tony Ellison||WR||6-1/175||Granite Bay, Calif.||Three stars|
|Layth Friekh||OT||6-5/260||Peoria||Three stars|
|Patrick Glover*||CB||6-2/212||New Orleans||Two stars|
|Marcus Griffin||DL||6-3/296||Bellevue, Wash.||Four stars|
|Jonathan Haden*||RB||5-8/190||Upper Marlboro, Md.||Three stars|
|T.J. Johnson*||WR||5-8/165||Cape Coral, Fla.||Three stars|
|Kaige Lawrence*||OL||6-4/280||Victorville, Calif.||Two stars|
|Kwesi Mashack||CB||5-10/182||Murrieta, Calif.||Three stars|
|Jordan Poland||OT||6-8/335||La Jolla, Calif.||Three stars|
|Jerrard Randall*||QB||6-1/190||Hollywood, Fla.||Three stars|
|Antonio Smothers*||LB||6-2/237||Chicago||Three stars|
|Levi Walton||OT||6-6/275||N. Fort Myers, Fla.||Two stars|
|Marquis Ware||LB/DE||6-2/210||Los Angeles||Four stars|
|Jace Whittaker||WR||5-9/150||Oceanside, Calif.||Three stars|
|Nick Wilson||RB||5-11/195||Fresno, Calif.||Four stars|
|Trevor Wood||TE||6-5/235||Scottsdale||Three stars|
|Jeff Worthy*||DL||6-3/290||La Mirada, Calif.||Three stars|