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Finding talent, recruiting it, putting it on the field and winning is easier said than done. But seeing a level of talent when others do not be the genuine talent in recruiting. And apparently, the Arizona coaching staff might have the gift.
A recent national recruiting pundit’s quote of Arizona’s current 2023 commitments, “a bunch of 3-star commits won’t get many wins in the Pac-12”, must be a collection of perspectives.
First, who graded those commits as a group of 3-Stars? Second, we must put the existing body of work into the 2022 class coupled with the transfer portal acquisitions.
For the University of Arizona’s football recruiting class of 2023, we again have to beat that proverbial dead horse. That carcass is the worst head coaching and recruiting performance in Pac-12 history by former ‘Cats head coach Kevin Sumlin.
To be fair, we have to chime in on second-year head Jedd Fisch’s one-win effort in his inaugural season as Wildcats football chief. The first loss to FCS school in Northern Arizona. Possibly the worst loss in school history.
However, we need to take heed of Fisch’s recruiting accomplishment after that solo victory.
From a 12th place finish in the Conference of Champions, and follow it up with an 18th ranked recruiting class.
What they are doing in their conference. Think about this. Arizona had a 20-game losing streak and goes 1-10, USC hires one of the top three faces in college football and Arizona has the number two 2022 recruiting class in the conference.
Can there be many recruiting efforts in the history of NCAA Division 1 football where a disastrous season has such a recruiting an awarding recruiting class? A class that garnered the school’s highest-rated player in program history.
The ultimate perspective is the level of recruiting Fisch’s coaching staff is doing. Not since Mike Stoop’s 2008 recruiting class has there been a higher-ranked class than the 2022 Fisch class. Of course, results are yet to be seen, but alumni, student body, and Desert Swarm fans are visibly excited about what the next few years are in store.
Yes, Fisch is getting the credit, but his staff has been doing one of the most remarkable recruiting jobs in the country based on the circumstances.
No one is going to be getting head coaching job offers here in the next year from this staff, but it is noticeably clear this is a group that is noticed for their recruiting efforts.
One Pac-12 coach told me what this Arizona staff is doing in recruiting after one year, based on what they inherited, is “remarkable.”
Ricky Hunley and Chuck Cecil are the first ones that come to mind when recruiting in Tucson. Both All-American for the Wildcats and fantastic pros. Both have a step ahead of the rest of the staff for understanding the ‘Zona way.’
One major face besides Fisch that has the most eyes on him is offensive coordinator Brennan Carroll. Of course, the OC is always going to have eyes up, but that he changes the biggest Achilles heel of the program is the offensive line.
If there is one position Arizona needs to improve, its talent level is upfront. The lack of size has been key, but also the overall athletic and Pac-12 level has been dismal. Fisch and Carroll’s offensive line upgrade needs to be their best position to recruit in their pro-style scheme.
The new defensive coordinator hire raised some eyebrows, but it really should not have. Johnny Nansen is one of the best west coast recruiters there is. Formerly at USC and UCLA, this recruiting class has his fingerprints on it. He was the biggest part of USC’s defensive run game element, which was one of the best in the country several years ago. Recruiting for USC is a leg up for Arizona now.
So, what is up with ‘all the 3-stars?’
Let’s look at one perspective. The most famous and actual 4-star player that was rated a three last year was Noah Fifita.
In a world of algorithms, sure Carter Stoutmire, Arian Parish, Solomon Davis, and Canyon Moses are three stars commits.
I have watched their game film, personal off-season, 7-on-7, and Hudl, and if I break them down like I would a professional and potential NFL talent, there are some things that I see that catch my attention, aside from the math.
Stoutmire and Parish catch my eye the most, as a mis-grade.
Remember, these are still kids, and they are not NFL talent yet, and being a good guy and staying out of trouble and doing the right thing in the classroom and life is part of the process.
But body type and attributes, flexibility, mobility, physical speed, and strength. Basic and escalated fundamentals, and technique as an overall talent versus various competition.
Getting on or off blocks, running through and after contact. Footwork, balance, leverage, and aggressiveness under control. Cerebrally, how the player understands the game, sees the fields, executes within the scheme, and the very inherent variable of having a feel for the game.
But Arian could be the Fifita of 2023. So far, he is currently the best recruit outside of the Colorado quarterback Brayden Dorman. His ‘3-star’ speaks the loudest to me as a mis-grade. He has the best possibility to be the next Chuck Cecil at Arizona.
There is room for improvement, obviously like all of them, but his sense of the field with controlled aggression is what I like. Physically, he moves well and while not the fastest; he is fast enough to gain and cover ground with a combination of speed and power.
Without going into a complete talent and talent evaluation on him, Arian is the find for Arizona of 2023.
What does all this say about Arizona football? This staff has an exceptionally good eye for talent. All the commits and not signed, and anything can happen until 2023, but what we are seeing from the University of Arizona staff is close to recruiting proficiency.
But making them happen on the field is another story.