Signing Day is one of the most exciting days of the year in all of college sports. Players officially make their commitments to play for their respective schools for the next four (or three) years. Arizona’s recruiting philosophy is simple: sign not only quality kids on the field, but off the field as well. If you’ve followed Arizona Football on Twitter or any type of social media, you’ll notice the hashtag ‘#OKG’ is thrown around quite a bit. It stands for “Our Kind of Guys“, which goes hand-in-hand with Rich Rodriguez’s philosophy. 2014 Signing Day was a great success! We’ll take a look at some of the highlights from the day and look at who might make an immediate impact in the fall.
Rodney Carr- DB- Los Angeles- Salesian High School
The 6-0, 190 pound Carr picked Arizona over Colorado State, Houston, Idaho, and SMU. Ranked a three-star recruit by Rivals and Scout, Carr is from the well-renowned Bishop Mora Salesian High School in LA and will has two other of his high school teammates coming to Tucson with him: Marquise Ware and Jamardre Cobb. He is also a Semper Fidelis All-American. Carr has superb speed and his soft hands which will give him the possibility to play right away for Jeff Casteel’s defense.
Jamardre Cobb-LB- Harbor City, CA- Salesian High School
If there was a prototype of a hard hitter, it would be this kid. Cobb, a 6-2, 215 linebacker, is an ESPN300 recruit and ranked 9th best linebacker in the country. He was also high school teammates with U of A signees Marquise Ware and Rodney Carr. The four-star recruit picked the Wildcats over big-name schools such as Florida State, Miami, Oklahoma, Ohio State, Nebraska, South Carolina, and Stanford. Rich Rodriguez and his staff were more than thrilled to receive a commitment from him. Cobb is like no other. His field vision and ability to read the plays as they happen is impressive. He flies to the ball carrier quickly and his pursuit is unparalleled. Cobb could take up a big role immediately since both linebackers Jake Fischer and Marquis Flowers are now gone. Expect Cobb to be a game changer.
Jordan Poland- Offensive Line- Rancho Santa Fe, CA- La Jolla Country Day High School
Calling the 6-8, 340 pound offensive lineman ‘big’ is an understatement. This guy is absolutely massive. Poland, an ESPN300 ranked 275th nationally, picked the Wildcats over Boise State, UCLA, San Diego State, USC, and Arizona State. His massive build has had college coaches drooling, and will add major beef to an already large Arizona offensive line. Look for Poland to have a strong summer camp and be included in the starting lineup conversation come August. They don’t get much bigger than this.
Trevor Wood- TE- Scottsdale, AZ- Chaparral High School
This past season, Arizona only had one true tight end on the roster. Now, the 6-6, 240 pound Wood will add a Rob Gronkowski- like skills to the Wildcat roster. He has already drawn comparisons to the current Patriot. Wood picked the Wildcats over championship-caliber programs such as Alabama, Oregon, Oklahoma, and Michigan State. Wood wanted to stay put in his home state because of the opportunity he has this fall. Wood can become an immediate starter and although RichRod’s offense didn’t use a tight end during the last two seasons, look for there to possibly be a change in the offensive style. Wood’s athleticism and skill set make him a perfect target for any quarterback. Could this be another ‘Gronk’ in the making? We’ll have to find out.
Nick Wilson- RB- Fresno, CA- Central High School
Now that Arizona’s all-time leading rusher, Ka’Deem Carey, is off to the NFL, there is a huge gap to fill in the offense. The Wildcats have many running backs on the roster but picking up the athletic Wilson was a good move. Another ESPN300 recruit, Wilson is ranked 236th nationally and the 29th best back in the nation. Programs from coast-to-coast have been trying to get Wilson on their quad but the 5-10, 195 speedster decided to stay on the West Coast. Boise State, Vanderbilt, UCLA, and Tennessee were just some of the schools that offered scholarships. With a running back vacancy looming, look for Wilson to step it up over the summer and impress coaches early.
Marquise Ware- Linebacker- Bellflower, CA- Bishop Mora Salesian High School
Add another ESPN300 recruit to the list! Ware has the size (6-2, 210) to be a game changer like his teammate, Jamardre Cobb. Ranked the 163rd best player in the country (Rivals), Ware picked Arizona over defending champion, Florida State, Stanford, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Ohio State, among others. Both Ware and his high school (and now college) teammate, Jamardre Cobb, were huge pickups for the Arizona staff. With a defense that is young but improving,Ware’s talent will come in handy for Jeff Casteel.
Johnathan Haden- RB- Upper Marlboro, MD- Friendship Collegiate Academy
Arizona running back depth chart will be crowded come fall but Haden does have the skill set to fight for a playing spot. His agility and blazing speed have drawn the interest of Ohio State, Tennessee, West Virginia, and NC State. Having Haden sign with Arizona geographically put Arizona on the recruiting map. Rich Rodriguez and his staff have spread their boundaries significantly and Haden proved that their new tactic paid off. Haden is smaller than Nick Wilson (5-8, 190) but his ability to bounce it to the sideline and make defenders miss will make him an offensive threat.Keep a close eye on the running back situation this off-season.
Bits and Pieces
Quarterbacks? We Got ‘Em!
In addition to the running back situation, the vacant quarterback spot will get plenty of attention this off-season. Arizona picked up two new guys on Signing Day. Oak Christian’s (CA) Brandon Dawkins is an accurate passer and can turn on the jets when he needs to. He is more of a traditional pocket-passer, which Arizona fans have not really seen since Nick Foles left the desert. Jerrard Randall is a transfer from Northeast Mississippi Community College and was initially with the LSU Tigers in Baton Rouge. Randall is definitely smaller than your traditional quarterback and is without a doubt a dual threat signal caller. Both are valuable pickups.
The Local Guys
The Rodriguez staff was fortunate enough to pick two local kids in their own backyard. Both Kaelin Deboskie (WR) and Cam Denson (WR) led their high school to a state championship and chose the U of A over big-name programs. Denson is another ESPN300 recruit, ranked 147th overall. Look for him to play both sides of the ball due to his unbelievable athletic ability. Deboskie chose Arizona over Oklahoma State among others. He has soft hands and is able to beat defenders to the ball.
What’s his Name?
The ‘Coolest Name Award’ definitely goes to cornerback Kwesi Mashack (Corona, CA). The 5-10 cornerback will fill in some holes at defensive back for the Wildcats and could see some early playing time next fall. Mashack is brilliant at closing in on receivers and is a lockdown corner. He is an absolute ballhawk. Mashack picked Arizona over the University of Hawaii. Cool name, great defender.
After all of the #OKGs turned in their National Letters of Intent, the Arizona Wildcat recruiting class was ranked 23rd overall nationally. This is a huge step forward. The staff did a brilliant job this year in finding quality kids on, but also off the gridiron. To give you some perspective, “That School Up North” has a recruiting class that is ranked 21st overall. So you’re telling me that Arizona is only two spots below a team that made it to the Pac-12 Championship game and was in the Top 25 for most of last season? Not too shabby at all. Of course, every Wildcat #OKG wasn’t covered in this story, but on behalf of everyone here at Zona Zealots, we’d like to extend a huge congratulations to the Arizona staff and all of the kids on a great 2014 Signing Day.