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?
This is the second part of a three-part series where I'll take a look at who is on Arizona's recruiting board and where the Wildcats stand. I've already covered the skill positions.
Now, for the offensive and defensive lines.
(Note: I included the "Stud" position, a hybrid of defensive end/outside linebacker, here simply because it's more defensive end-leaning than linebacker.)
All ratings according to Scout.com.
Returning in 2018 (current year): Cody Creason (RS SO), Bryson Cain (RS FR), Maisen Knight (SO), Edgar Burrola (FR), Thiyo Lukusa (RS SO)
Targets: Joey Ramos, 3-star, Deer Valley (Glendale); Braeden Daniels, 3-star, Hebron HS (Carrollton, Texas); Paul Maile, 3-star, East HS (Salt Lake City); Donovan Laie, 3-star, Oceanside HS (Oceanside, Calif.); Garrett Curran, 3-star, Granite Hills HS (El Cajon, Calif.); Cade Beresford, 3-star, Woodinville HS (Woodinville, Wash.)
Analysis: I covered the recruitment of Maile and Laie here. Maile is listed by most sites as a defensive lineman, but Arizona is recruiting him to the offensive line. Ramos has been a top priority for Arizona for as long as the UA has been recruiting the 2018 cycle, and he might be one of the most important recruits on the board. A commitment is possible, but it will be a battle. Arizona needs commitments at tackle pretty badly — though the addition of Lukusa, a Michigan State transfer, certainly helps the cause — so it wouldn't surprise me if they pushed for 2-3 from this group, and I think one of them will be Laie.
Returning in 2018 (current year): Nathan Eldridge (RS SO), Christian Boettcher (RS JR), Michael Eletise (RS FR), Alex Kosinski (RS SO), Levi Walton (RS JR)
Committed: David Watson, 3-star, Amphitheater (Tucson)
Targets: Jacob Isaia, 3-star, Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas); Chris Murray, 3-star, Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.); Ian Burnette, unrated, Wimberley HS (Wimberley, Texas); Titus Jones, 3-star, Edna Carr HS (New Orleans); Penei Sewell, 4-star, Desert Hills HS (Saint George, Utah)
Analysis: The Wildcats are aiming high with Sewell, though it'd be a shocker if he seriously considered Arizona. He's the No. 1 tackle in Utah, No. 8 in the country and Alabama and USC are the favorites for him. Isaia told me he still has Arizona in his Top-7 and frequently speaks with UA guard Michael Eletise, a close friend. Jones is committed to Memphis, but Arizona hasn't offered him yet. If it does, there's a chance for a flip.
Depth here is a concern for Arizona, so the Wildcats are likely hoping to secure at least two of these players, and it wouldn't surprise me if that included two out of Jones, Murray and Burnette.
Returning in 2018 (current year): Kurtis Brown (FR), Finton Connolly (RS SO), Larry Tharpe Jr. (RS JR), Dereck Boles (RS JR), Sione Taufahema (JR)
Committed: Josh Walker, 3-star, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fl.); Mykee Irving, 3-star, Calabasas HS (Calabasas, Calif.)
Targets: Tyler Manoa, 3-star, St. Francis HS (Mountain View, Calif.); Jackson Cravens, 3-star, Timpview HS (Provo, Utah); Aaron Frost, 3-star, Long Peach Poly HS (Long Beach, Calif.); Nigel Brannon, 3-star, John Marshall HS (Oklahoma City); Darren Brown, Unrated, Judson HS (Converse, Texas)
Analysis: Arizona is doing well early on here, with commitments from two highly-regarded three-stars in Irving and Walker, though I imagine it'll take some more recruitment on Walker to keep him until Signing Day. Rich Rodriguez would seemingly never turn away a talented defensive tackle, and Arizona is doing well with Manoa, while the Wildcats would ahve a good shot at Cravens if they can have a good season. Arizona has a good relationship with Long Beach Poly so Frost is a possibility.
UA hasn't really recruited Oklahoma outside of the Bundage family (Cayman and Calvin, the former started at Arizona on the offensive line), so Brannon is a strange target. The Wildcats haven't offered Brown yet, but if they do, a commitment would likely soon follow.
Returning in 2018 (current year): Jalen Harris (FR), My-King Johnson (FR), Jose Ramirez (FR), Kylan Wilborn (FR), Lee Anderson III (SO), Justin Belknap (RS SO), Jalen Cochran (RS FR), Francisco Nelson (RS FR)
Targets: Caleb Okechukwu, unrated, St. John's College HS (Washington DC); Tim Mosley, 3-star, Dorsey HS (Los Angeles); Mar'Quess Daniels, 3-star, Arizona Western; Jaaron Jackson, 3-star, Kathleen HS (Lakeland, Fl.); Andres Fox, 3-star, Mobile Christian School (Mobile, Ala.); Bryant Pirtle, 3-star, Pima College
Analysis: Arizona has given out quite a few scholarships to defensive end/outside linebacker hybrid types in the last two years, and I expect them to give out a few more this year. Really, you can never have enough talented pass rushers. I'd anticipate a commitment from Okechukwu very soon, as his only other current offers are from Albany and Robert Morris. Mosley, Daniels and Jackson — a South Alabama commit — are all recruitments to keep an eye on. Martin, Anoma and Kamara are all likely out of Arizona's reach.
Pirtle and Fox are being recruited as "Stud" linebackers, though neither is likely to end up at Arizona.