When Mike Stoops was fired midway through the 2011 season, he didn't leave the cupboard full with talent. Yet, a credible nucleus of his recruits are impacting Arizona's fortunes in Rich Rodriguez's second year with the Wildcats.
Stoops and his staff targeted the state of Texas—given his background as Oklahoma's defensive coordinator, a position he has retained since leaving Tucson. That recruiting philosophy may have affected their ability to recruit from California and the West Coast sufficiently and expansively.
Stoops' last two recruiting classes in 2010 and 2011 were rated No. 39 and 70 nationally, respectively, by Scout.com.
The most significant gift from the previous staff to Rodriguez's crew is All-American running back Ka'Deem Carey, who led the nation in rushing yards (1,929) last season.
In Rodriguez's first season last year, he and his staff welcomed holdover quarterback Matt Scott, who intentionally redshirted in 2011 because Nick Foles was a senior starter. Rodriguez was very appreciative of Stoops' staff convincing Scott to wait another year to complete his collegiate career.
"We are very thankful," Rodriguez said at the time. "We knew we had a guy we thought was pretty special."
Rodriguez no longer has the luxury of having Scott, who is a now practice-squad player with the Jacksonville Jaguars. This will likely be the last year Rodriguez and his staff will enjoy having Carey because the junior is expected to forsake his last year and enter the NFL draft.
Carey highlights this list of the top five Stoops recruits who are impacting the Rich Rod era up to this point at Arizona.