Demetrius Flannigan has always made a point of going past Arizona Stadium on his way to Tucson High School.
“Always, always,” he said. “I can’t do without it.”
Passing that landmark will be a little more special during his senior year.
The 6-foot-3-inch 180-pound wide receiver and defensive back verbally committed to the Wildcats on Wednesday afternoon, less than three weeks after coach Rich Rodriguez offered Flannigan a Division I scholarship.
“It makes driving by the stadium way more exciting to know I’m going to be playing on that field, the field I’ve been dreaming of playing on since I was little,” said Flannigan, the 15th player to pledge to Arizona for 2015. “Now that I know my dream can come true, it feels great.”
Flannigan, rated as a two-star recruit by the Scout.com recruiting service, received interest from Arizona State, Boise State and Colorado. He visited USC the week after being offered by the Wildcats and was told the Trojans would be in touch.
By then, his mind was already made up.
The Tucson native said he knew from the moment he was offered at the UA’s one-day camp on June 7 that he wanted to commit. He said he has already imagined what it would be like to run out of the locker room; in fact, he thinks about it every time he drives by the stadium.
“It’s always been his dream to go play at the UA; that’s what he told me,” Tucson coach Justin Argraves said. “The day he got the offer from them, he sent me a text and was pretty excited. It was just a matter of time before he committed.
“It’s a pretty special thing to be over here at Tucson High and go play across the street for the hometown team.”
Flannigan was a first-team All-Southern Arizona selection as a defensive back by the Star last fall when he had five pass break-ups and averaged 1.5 tackles a game. As a receiver, the three-year starter caught 10 passes for 153 yards while helping the Badgers go 7-3 and reach the Division II state playoffs.
Flannigan said he likes playing defense better than offense and expects to be used either as a free safety or corner in college. He also said cornerbacks coach David Lockwood was very convincing in trying to get him.
“He’s a great coach,” Flannigan said. “I can’t wait to play with him.”
Flannigan’s commitment is the third from a local player in the last two seasons. Cameron Denson and Kaelin Deboskie, both Salpointe Catholic products, will be UA freshmen this fall. The UA has also offered a scholarship to Salpointe’s Justin Holt, who will be a junior this fall, and Cienega’s Terrence Johnson, who will be a senior.
Flannigan said it’s important to keep local talent home, and he’s hoping to see more of Southern Arizona’s best join him down the road.
“Hopefully it keeps going,” Argraves said. “It’s a good pipeline.”