At this point last season, Arizona had filled most of its recruiting class already. Well, at least verbally filled it. At this point, it'd be cliche to mention how many of the UA's committed players backed out before Signing Day. (Spoiler: It was a lot, and most of them went to Oregon.)
But anyway, as Arizona nears in on the start of the season, UA currently has 11 players verbally committed to its 2018 class, with three coming since the start of the month, including the highest-rated player (defensive lineman Josh Walker) and two high-end three-star recruits from Southern California (big defensive tackle Mykee Irving and cornerback McKenzie Barnes).
So what's next?
Over the next three days, I'll take a look at the players still remaining on Arizona's board, according to various sources close to the program, and where UA stands a chance of securing commitments. The three parts will be split up as follows: First, players at the skill positions, then the trenches (offensive and defensive line) and finally, the rest of the defense.
Soon, I'll also rank Arizona's targets in order of importance to the 2018 class.
Without further adieu, here's a closer look at what players at QB, RB, WR and TE are on Arizona's board. All ratings according to Scout.com.
Returning in 2018 (current year): Brandon Dawkins (RS JR), Khalil Tate (SO), Donavan Tate (FR), K'Hari Lane (FR), Rhett Rodriguez (FR)
Committed: Jamarye Joiner, 3-star, Cienega (Tucson)
Targets: Jack Tuttle, 4-star, Mission Hills HS (San Marcos, Calif.)
Analysis: The Wildcats are unlikely to add more than one quarterback with five already returning. Jamarye Joiner committed early, and has been open about his plans to visit other schools. He's added an ASU offer, and if he receives more, Arizona will have to work to keep him. As for Jack Tuttle...he's already committed to Utah and has 16 other offers, amongst them Alabama, LSU, USC and Nebraska. He's not coming to Arizona.
Returning in 2018: J.J. Taylor (RS FR), Nathan Tilford (FR), Gary Brightwell (FR)
Committed: Darrius Smith, 2-star, Dawson HS (Pearland, Texas)
Targets: Greg Bell, 3-star, Arizona Western College; Trenton Charles, 3-star, Scotlandville Magnet HS (Baton Rouge, La.); Draycen Hall, 2-star, Higley (Gilbert); Lance Lawson, unrated, Red Mountain (Mesa);
Analysis: This is an eclectic group of offers to say the least, and none of them certainly hold the name recognition that Nathan Tilford did a year ago when he headlined Arizona's class. But even with a talented trio of returners in Tilford, J.J. Taylor and Gary Brightwell, the Wildcats have nobody behind them and desperately need to add depth in this class.
Smith isn't really a decommitment risk, and the Wildcats got in early with two small in-state running backs in Hall and Lawson, who are 5-8 and 5-9, respectively, and Arizona is their first Pac-12 offer. Charles is committed, strangely, to Yale and holds offers from TCU and Memphis, while Bell has offers from Louisville, Utah, Boise State and ASU. UA is most likely to secure Hall and/or Lawson — more of a receiver/running back hybrid who also can play safety — out of this group.
Returning in 2018: Shun Brown (JR), Cedric Peterson (RS SO), Brian Casteel (FR), Tony Ellison (JR), Drew Dixon (FR), DeVaughn Cooper (RS FR), D.J. Hinton (FR)
Committed: Jaden Mitchell, 3-star, Desert Pines (Las Vegas)
Targets: Kobe Smith, 4-star, Junipero Serra HS (Gardena, Calif.); Solomon Enis, 4-star, North Canyon HS (Phoenix); Khalil Shakir, 4-star, Vista Murrieta HS (Murrieta, Calif.); Jaron Woodyard, unrated, Arizona Western College; Jermaine Braddock, 2-star, Charter Oak HS (Covina, Calif.); Chris Olave, 3-star, Mission Hills HS (San Marcos, Calif.); Tre Adams, 3-star, Wakeland HS (Frisco, Texas); Taye Barber, 3-star, Cypress Springs (Cypress, Texas); Jordan Byrd, 3-star, Manzano HS (Albuquerque, N.M.); Tahj Magee, Franklinton HS (Franklinton, La.); Bryson Jackson, 4-star; Jalen Hall, 5-star; Tommy Bush, 4-star
Analysis: If I had to make a prediction right this minute, I'm not very confident Arizona will reel in any four-star recruits this year, though if they do it will likely be at wide receiver. Enis just listed Arizona in his Top-7, Smith is close friends with UA quarterback Khalil Tate and Shakir has spoken highly of the Wildcats throughout the process.
Arizona is losing at least three contributing players from this year's team, and lead receiver Shun Brown will be gone after next year, so the Wildcats need to load up here. Of this group, Magee (Louisiana Tech), Barber (TCU) and Byrd (San Diego State) are already committed elsewhere, though that doesn't mean they're out of the picture. Outside of that group, Arizona probably has its best shot for commitments from Braddock and Olave. Don't hold your breath on Hall, Bush or Jackson.
Returning in 2018: Trevor Wood (RS JR), Jamie Nunley (RS FR), Bryce Wolma (FR), Bryce Gilbert (FR)
Targets: Brayden Willis, Unrated, James Martin HS (Arlington, Texas); Jake Peters, 3-star, Rancho Santa Margarita HS (Santa Margarita, Calif.)
Analysis: I'm in the camp that Arizona probably doesn't need to add any tight ends this cycle, unless it's a truly elite sort of talent. The Wildcats need to focus more on the trenches and filling in holes on the depth chart elsewhere. Arizona is only really targeting these two tight ends at the present (though that can change), and it wouldn't surprise me if they received a commitment from one of them. Willis seems more likely, as Peters has a Washington offer.