UA football: Cats gets safety to recommit, land a Griffey

2012-01-25T00:01:00Z 2012-01-25T11:29:59Z UA football: Cats gets safety to recommit, land a GriffeyRyan Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
January 25, 2012 12:01 am  • 

Two months after decommitting from Arizona, safety Leo Thomas began receiving "hair-raising letters" with a Tucson-area return address.

The author: new UA football coach Rich Rodriguez.

"They were about how good a coach he is and how much he wanted me and was interested in me," Thomas said Tuesday with a chuckle. "He said he wasn't sure if I was still interested after Mike Stoops and all (his assistants) got fired."

Thomas was interested - and was sold.

The San Antonio Houston High School senior recommitted to the program Tuesday and will sign a national letter of intent Feb. 1.

The Scout.com recruiting service lists the 6-foot-3-inch, 185-pound safety as a three-star recruit; he chose Arizona over offers from Colorado, New Mexico State, North Texas, SMU, UTEP and Wake Forest.

Thomas initially committed to Arizona in August, telling Stoops - the Wildcats' embattled coach - that he wanted to play in his pro-style defense. Stoops was fired Oct. 10, however, and Thomas decommitted within hours. He visited Colorado in December, but he was turned off by the cold temperatures.

"When I left there," Thomas said, "it was 7degrees."

He soon thawed to Arizona and Rodriguez, too. It wasn't long before the Cats' new coach was selling Thomas on the new 3-3-5 "odd stack" defense.

"He told me that I can come in right away and play as long as I do what I've got to do," Thomas said.

Arizona adds the Kid's kid

When Trey Griffey was born, Seattle Mariners general manager Woody Woodward sent him a player's contract to be signed on his 18th birthday.

Hall of Fame baseball writer Peter Gammons once wrote that Griffey, the oldest son of former baseball star Ken Griffey Jr., would be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 amateur draft.

Trey Griffey has other plans.

The Orlando, Fla., wide receiver verbally committed to Arizona after spending the weekend in Tucson on an official visit. Rodriguez made an in-home visit to the Griffeys on Tuesday, solidifying the deal.

"It was just a great, enjoyable trip to Tucson," Trey Griffey told the Orlando Sentinel. "My parents said: 'It's up to you. You got to do what you got to do ... what you feel is right.' I'm going to the University of Arizona. It's doesn't get any better than that."

The Scout.com recruiting service lists the 6-foot-2-inch, 190-pound Griffey as a three-star recruit and one of the nation's most underrated players. As a senior at Orlando's Dr. Phillips High School, he set school records for catches (72) and yards (970), and scored 11 touchdowns.

Griffey chose the Wildcats over offers from Iowa State, Michigan State, Washington State and a dozen small colleges, including three in his home state. He visited Arizona State a week ago but reportedly did not have an offer from the Sun Devils.

The 18-year-old Griffey - full name: George Kenneth Griffey III - is the oldest of Ken Griffey Jr. and wife Melissa's three children, and grandson of former big-leaguer Ken Griffey Sr.

The eldest Griffey was a prep wideout before choosing baseball, a career path that led to 19 seasons in the big leagues. Ken Jr., known as "Junior" or "The Kid," played three years of running back at Cincinnati's famed Archbishop Moeller High School before Seattle made him the No. 1 pick in the 1987 amateur draft. He played 22 seasons with the Mariners (1989-99, 2009-2010), Reds (2000-08) and White Sox (2008).

Kish heading to Oklahoma

Tim Kish has a new home - and a familiar boss.

The Arizona Wildcats' former defensive coordinator and interim head coach has joined Oklahoma's staff as linebackers coach, according to numerous internet reports.

Kish did not return a text message from the Star seeking comment. He replaced Brent Venables, who quit as co-defensive coordinator last week to take a similar job at Clemson.

Kish will be reunited in Norman, Okla., with former UA coach Mike Stoops and Stoops' brother Bob, the Sooners' head coach. Mike Stoops was hired as Oklahoma co-defensive coordinator last week, and elevated to coordinator when Venables left. On Tuesday, OU's board of regents approved a three-year, $1.8 million contract for Mike Stoops. He also stands to make $50,000 in May of 2013 and 2014 for staying with the Sooners through spring practice.

Kish served as linebackers coach, co-defensive coordinator and defensive coordinator under Mike Stoops during his entire eight-year tenure as Arizona's head coach. Kish took over when Stoops was fired and, preaching a team-first approach and stewardship of the job, led the Wildcats to a 3-3 finish.

Kish won't be the only UA assistant to land on the OU staff. Former secondary coach Ryan Walters will likely be added as a graduate assistant sometime this week.

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