As soon as Chip Kelly left Oregon to coach in the NFL, Rich Rodriguez jumped on the Ducks' top receiving recruit, Darren Carrington of San Diego Horizon High School, and successfully persuaded him to take a visit to Arizona.
That's how it works in college football. Or at least that's how it works if you're going to survive long.
Carrington, a four-star recruit who had not visited any school other than Oregon, isn't likely to sign with the Wildcats next week. Three days after Carrington returned from Tucson, new Oregon coach Mark Helfrich flew to San Diego in an attempt to cement Carrington's pledge to be a Duck.
Near the end of RichRod's first full recruiting season at Arizona, it's obvious he is very good at that part of the game. As it sits today, Scout.com ranks Arizona No. 22 nationally (ahead of Oregon and No. 4 in the Pac-12). Rivals.com lists the Wildcats at No. 27 and fifth in the Pac-12.
Most of RichRod's class is in the barn; he has 26 commitments, including the most impressive two-person QB class in school history: former USC signee Jesse Scroggins and Bishop Gorman (Nev.) High School star Anu Solomon, who is now ranked No. 2 nationally among dual-threat QBs by Rivals.com.
But even this weekend, the UA is attempting to bring an impact pass rusher, a huge need, to campus. Two-time JC All-America defensive end Keylon Hollis of Bakersfield (Calif.) College visited Arizona a week ago and remains interested.
Already on campus and taking classes is four-star offensive lineman Logan Stott of Pine View (Utah) High School, whose father, Dr. Dale Stott, was a standout on Amphi's powerhouse teams of 1975 and 1976.
Rivals.com ranks Stott No. 14 of all offensive guards in the Class of 2013. It also ranks Florida all-purpose back/receiver T.J. Johnson, who long ago pledged to play at Arizona, No. 15 at his position.
RichRod has established a nice pipeline in San Diego, with five commitments from that area. He's also working for the future, witness his recent visit to powerful St. Bonaventure (Calif.) High School, where Class of 2015 QB Ricky Town is a schoolmate of incoming UA tailback Zachary Green, who turned down Cal and Washington to play at Arizona.
Recruiting rankings in football are fallible, often laughable, but it remains the best indication of how much pull your school has. In 2013, Arizona is more than holding its own.
Ex-Mountain View OL Carter chooses BYU over Wildcats
Josh Carter played his final football game at Mountain View High School in the fall of 2008. He then went on a Mormon mission and played two seasons on the offensive line at Eastern Arizona College. He is 6 feet 5 inches, 280 pounds, and had scholarship offers from San Diego State, Arizona and BYU. He visited BYU last week - took a snowmobiling outing while there - and will sign with the Cougars next week. During his senior year at BYU, Carter will be 24. … Catalina Foothills' 22-1 start to the prep basketball season, its ascension to No. 1 in the state Division II rankings, was blown apart last week in something of an NBA-type schedule. Mark Felix's Falcons played four games in five days and lost to Ben Hurley's Amphi Panthers and to Poston Butte. It's certainly no surprise to lose to a team coached by Hurley, who has been Tucson's top prep basketball coach of the last decade. It doesn't get any easier for Felix's team, which has become a significant target: It plays Salpointe Catholic on Tuesday, the first of three tough games this week before the playoffs begin. … Sahuaro High grad Pat McCoy, a right-hander who was 7-3 with 60 strikeouts in 58 innings for Class AA Harrisburg (Pa.) last year, has been invited to spring training by the Washington Nationals next month. It's an indication that McCoy will get his first crack at Class AAA this season. … Good things often happen if you are on the PGA Tour. Rincon/University grad Michael Thompson played in the pro-am of the ongoing Farmer's Insurance Open in San Diego with partner Gary LeVox, lead singer for Rascal Flatts. Thompson then made the cut by making birdies on four of the final six holes Friday.
More Short Stuff
Barrett, Rivera-Morales give UA nice high-jumping rep
The depth of Fred Harvey's UA track team is such that the 2013 high-jumping debut of national champ Brigetta Barrett was overshadowed Friday when teammate Edgar Rivera-Morales broke the UA's 34-year-old indoor record, clearing 7 feet 5 inches in Arkansas. The old record was set in 1979 by James Frazier at 7-4 3/4. Barrett won the women's high jump in Arkansas on Friday, at 6-3 1/4, running her collegiate unbeaten streak to 18. … UA jumps coach Sheldon Blockburger won't have defending NCAA indoor high jump champion Nick Ross this year. Ross will redshirt after having a pair of surgeries to fix bone chips in his foot. Ross was the Pac-12's male track & field Athlete of the Year in 2012 and third in the USA Olympic trials with a school-record 7-5 1/4 outdoors. … When the Arizona women's swimming team chopped down two-time defending NCAA champion Cal on Friday afternoon at Hillenbrand Aquatic Center - a meet in which Bonnie Brandon and Margo Geer continued to look like potential 2013 NCAA champions, the excellence of Arizona's swimming program was apparent in a different way. Four-time Olympian Amanda Beard was in the crowd, watching her former teammates win. Beard was America's best female breast stroker for about 10 years, but no longer is her name on the large UA record book at Hillenbrand. Her records have since fallen. … When David Fipp started at safety for the Arizona football team in 1996 and 1997, Dick Tomey told me that Fipp would someday be an excellent coach. Fipp last week joined the Philadelphia Eagles staff; he will direct their special teams. Since leaving Arizona, the undersized but resourceful and diligent Fipp has paid dues every step up the ladder, coaching at Holy Cross, Arizona, Nevada, San Jose State, Cal-Poly and in lesser roles with the 49ers and Dolphins. Now he's got his own gig with the Eagles. Well-deserved.
UA's tourney tickets go fast
Even though Arizona has sold its allotment of 1,300 tickets to the Pac-12 basketball men's tournament at the Las Vegas MGM Grand, many tickets remain available in other sections. The Pac-12 will create a setup that has about 13,050 seats at the MGM, which often seats more than 16,000 for boxing events. True, Arizona's seats are beyond the baseline, at an angle to the court. But that is part of a yearly rotation, section to section, as approved by Pac-12 schools. … Canyon del Oro High and UA baseball product Shelley Duncan made a wise choice in signing with the Tampa Bay Rays last week. The Rays are weakest at Duncan's positions - left field, first base, DH - and only one proven player, first-baseman James Loney, is in the mix. … Sabino High grad Lucas Reed improved his draft status at the East-West game last week in St. Petersburg, Fla. His unusually long arms were measured at 35 1/2 inches in length and his hands at 10 1/2 inches in width. His size (6 foot 5, 255 pounds) and athleticism are apt to get him drafted in the middle rounds in spite of the run-first offense he got stuck in after a coaching change at New Mexico. Brooks Reed, Lucas' older brother, a former All-Pac-12 pass rusher at UA and a starter for the Houston Texans, traveled to Florida to spend the week with Lucas. … It is so ridiculously difficult to get in a PGA Tour event that nine Tucsonans were among the field of 212 golfers last week in a pre-qualifier for Monday's real qualifier for the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Even Sabino and UA grad Nathan Tyler, a mini-tour star who shot 67 in Thursday's pre-qualifier, failed to advance. Two players from Monday's field of 144 will move on to the real thing Thursday.
My Two Cents
FC Tucson managing partners score another goal for city
When FC Tucson and county politicians last week announced the creation of a 2,000-seat soccer facility at Kino Sports Complex North, it was another in a series of impressive get-things-done projects by FC Tucson managing partners Greg Foster, Jon Pearlman, Rick Schantz and Chris Keeney.
If these ambitious, forward-thinking men had been involved in spring training 20 years ago, or even 10, Tucson would surely have multiple major-league baseball teams training here.
Now that the baseball boat has sailed and isn't likely to return to Tucson for another generation, if then - if ever - the next project is the politically sensitive horse racing venue at Rillito Park.
The county and the Arizona Youth Soccer Association have plans to build 18 soccer fields now occupied mostly by Tucson's historic two-month horse racing season. Good luck on settling that tug-of-war anytime soon.
In the meantime, the new facilities at Kino need to be accessible and affordable to every manner of soccer.
It will be a mistake - such as those made by the county when shared usage of the Kino baseball properties were limited and expensive - if the stadium project is made available only to the pros and to championship-level youth groups.
At last, Tucson has a good thing going at the Kino Sports Complex. There's no reason to make it exclusive turf.