UA football: Recruiting a tough go for Kish

2011-11-10T00:00:00Z 2014-09-15T10:22:18Z UA football: Recruiting a tough go for KishRyan Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
November 10, 2011 12:00 am  • 

The questions come every time Tim Kish calls a recruit who, hoping to play for Mike Stoops, verbally committed to the Arizona Wildcats' football program.

There aren't many answers.

But Kish, the UA's acting head coach, does his best to stay in touch - even if it requires selling a school that may not want him back next season.

"Absolutely," he said this week. "I just try to keep the relationship going with the kids. We talk about Arizona the way we can, and the way things are heading."

Which is … well, nobody is sure.

Stoops was fired a month ago today, with athletic director Greg Byrne starting a nationwide search for his replacement. But with no coach hired and Byrne staying mum on any possible replacements, details about the future of the program are hard to come by.

Arizona's 2012 recruiting class waits - and, in some cases, bolts.

Safety Leo Thomas re-opened his recruitment within a day of Stoops' Oct. 10 firing, in part because the Wildcats' deposed head coach was the one recruiting him. Linebacker A.J. Hilliard decommitted two weeks ago, and has his eyes set on TCU.

The rest of Arizona's recruits remain in a wait-and-see mode, hoping that the Wildcats' new head coach will run a system - and program - that's worthy of a follow-up to their verbal commitment.

Some, like tight end Taylor McNamara, are taking recruiting trips as they wait.

McNamara, a four-star recruit from San Diego's Westview High School, visited Cal on Oct. 14 and Colorado a week later. He went to Washington last week for the Huskies' game against Oregon, and will "trip" to Notre Dame and Oklahoma later this month.

Arizona's skill-position players - notably, the quarterbacks, wide receivers and running backs - have more to lose if the next coach runs a different system.

Arizona's current assistants can still recruit for the program, and bring players to visit, but can't guarantee that anything - from the coaching staff to the system, even the desire to keep players - will stay the same.

Byrne has designated himself as an official recruiter for the program with Stoops gone and has reached out the Wildcats' 2012 class to answer questions.

Arizona's current assistants are choosing honesty over flattery -possibly a recruiting first.

Running backs coach Garret Chachere tells recruits that the UA's next coach will be a good fit, whoever he is. Rather than talking football, he sells the Arizona experience.

"Basically, I tell them what I've always told them: I thought Arizona is a great place to go to school. Myself and my family really enjoy it. I've never met anyone, and I dare them to find someone, anyone who went to school here who hasn't enjoyed it," he said.

Quarterbacks coach Frank Scelfo is direct.

"We tell them, 'Hey, stay with us,'" he said. "Look, they committed to the University of Arizona. It's a great place. There's a nice tradition here, there's a good rich history, and when those kids came in and visited and saw what we had in place, it had nothing to do with this staff."

Kish, the UA's lead in-state recruiter and arguably the best on staff, understands why the last month has been quiet on the recruiting front. Still, the coaches haven't quit.

Ten days after Stoops was fired, the UA brought one player - Chris Solomon, a three-star safety from West Covina, Calif. - to campus for an official visit. They gave him a pass to the Wildcats' nationally televised game against UCLA, and did their best to showcase the school - from the game-day atmosphere to the academics and facilities.

Selling football, for now, is silly.

"You have to pick a place where you're going to feel at home," Chachere said. "Many things can come up over time, whether its struggling with grades, struggling with playing time, maybe a sickness or a death at home, maybe an injury. … All these things happen during a four-, five-year process. If you're not at a place where you feel at home, or feel that people there don't care about you, it makes the things that come along in a young man's life twice as tough to deal with. …

"The kids who picked this school picked it for the right reasons, and it'll work out."

On StarNet: Read more about the Cats on reporter Ryan Finley's blog at:

Arizona's 2012 recruiting class ... for now

Pos. Name Ht Wt Hometown (last school)

WR Jarrell Bennett 5-9 155 New Orleans (Karr Magnet School)

DT Gerron Borne 6-2 270 Reserve, La. (East St. John HS)

C Beau Boyster 6-4 275 Bellflower, Calif. (St. John Bosco HS)

WR Julian Brooks 6-2 185 Chatsworth, Calif. (Sierra Canyon HS)

DT Cayman Bundage 6-2 280 Oklahoma City (Douglass HS)

OT T.D. Gross 6-6 255 Santee, Calif. (Santana HS)

OG Zach Hemmila 6-3 275 Chandler (Chandler HS)

DE Kyle Kelley 6-3 230 Irvine, Calif. (Woodbridge HS)

QB Josh Kern 6-5 185 San Antonio (Tom Clark HS)

RB Anthony Lopez 5-10 185 Gilbert (Mesquite HS)

TE Taylor McNamara 6-5 235 San Diego (Westview HS)

DE Dwight Melvin 6-1 265 Laveen (Fairfax HS)

OT Steven Moore 6-7 265 Elk Grove, Calif. (Elk Grove HS)

S Devian Shelton 6-2 180 Inglewood, Calif. (Inglewood HS)

QB Nate Sudfeld 6-5 215 Modesto, Calif. (Modesto Christian)

Up next

• What: Arizona at Colorado

• When: 12:30 p.m. Saturday

• TV: Fox College Sports (check your channel lineup for availability)

• Radio: 1290-AM, 107.5-FM

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Pac-12 South football standings

  Conference Overall
Arizona 7 2 0 0.778 10 4 0 0.714
USC 6 3 0 0.667 9 4 0 0.692
UCLA 6 3 0 0.667 10 3 0 0.769
Arizona State 6 3 0 0.667 10 3 0 0.769
Utah 5 4 0 0.556 9 4 0 0.692
Colorado 0 9 0 0.000 2 10 0 0.167

Pac-12 North football standings

  Conference Overall
Oregon 8 1 0 0.889 13 2 0 0.867
Stanford 5 4 0 0.556 8 5 0 0.615
Washington 4 5 0 0.444 8 6 0 0.571
Cal 3 6 0 0.333 5 7 0 0.417
Washington State 2 7 0 0.222 3 9 0 0.250
Oregon State 2 7 0 0.222 5 7 0 0.417
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