Arizona Wildcats Football

Arizona Wildcats Football: Coach Rich Rodriguez's Holiday Wish List

Brian PedersenFeatured ColumnistDecember 23, 2013

Arizona Wildcats Football: Coach Rich Rodriguez's Holiday Wish List

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Who says you've got to be a kid to make a gift list?

    While it might not be in writing, most college football coaches have at least a mental tally of "wants" and "needs" for the near future, and Arizona's Rich Rodriguez is no different.

    The second-year head coach will probably have some nice presents waiting for him under the tree in a few days, but odds are the things that he really wants won't start arriving until later.

    Let's take a look.

A Bowl Victory

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    Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

    Rich Rodriguez is the first Arizona coach to lead the Wildcats to a bowl game in each of his first two seasons. Arizona beat Nevada, 49-48, last year in the New Mexico Bowl, putting together an epic comeback that somehow got topped by this past weekend's New Mexico Bowl.

    Getting into a bowl game is an achievement in itself because of the extra practice time that it allows for coaches to evaluate future contributors. Winning bowl games are pretty important, too.

    Rodriguez is 3-4 in bowl games, not including the 2008 Fiesta Bowl that he wasn't around for after leaving West Virginia for Michigan. Losing the 2011 Gator Bowl proved to be the last straw in his Michigan tenure, as he was fired a few days later.

    Players and fans will show the most excitement after a bowl victory, but don't think Rodriguez doesn't want to beat Boston College on Dec. 31 in the AdvoCare V100 Bowl. Right now, he probably wants that more than anything else.

Ka'Deem Carey Stays in School

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    Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

    It goes without saying, but who wouldn't want a two-time consensus All-American to return for a senior season?

    Ka'Deem Carey led the FBS in rushing in 2012, and this year he's got another 1,700-plus yards that made him a finalist for the Doak Walker Award. His most recent rating by CBS Sports has Carey as the No. 37 overall prospect if he were to leave for the NFL draft, which would put him in line to be a second-round pick.

    Carey's departure would leave a huge void in Arizona's offense, not unlike the loss of senior quarterback Matt Scott after the 2012 season. Rich Rodriguez would prefer not to have to deal with that loss for another year.

Jalen Tabor Heads West

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    Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

    Arizona hasn't had a 5-star high school recruit in more than a decade, and none of its commitments for 2014 rates above four stars.

    All that could change if the Wildcats can somehow convince Washington, D.C. cornerback Jalen Tabor to head west, spurning offers from Alabama, Florida and Maryland, among others.

    The odds aren't in Rich Rodriguez's favor, as 247sports.com gives Arizona a 2 percent chance of landing Tabor, but a coach can dream, right?

No Surprises on Signing Day

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    Arizona received signed letters of intent last week from six of the seven junior college players who had committed to the school for 2014, except for safety Jamie Byrd, who signed with South Florida instead.

    Rich Rodriguez hopes that's the last signing day surprise he has to deal with anytime soon.

    As it stands, the Wildcats have hard commits from 21 high school players, including five who rate four stars by 247sports.com or other scouting services. Though nothing is certain until the antiquated fax machine in the football office spits out each letter, there's no indication any of those commits plan to back out.

     

A Quarterback Emerges in Spring Camp

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    Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

    B.J. Denker took nearly all of the snaps for Arizona at quarterback this season, with redshirt freshman Javelle Allen getting some mop-up duty in a handful of games.

    With Denker leaving, though, the Wildcats will have to evaluate a field of no fewer than seven quarterbacks with a legitimate shot at getting the starting job for 2014. That includes former USC quarterback Jesse Scroggins, who didn't play for Arizona this season, as well as Connor Brewer, who transferred from Texas and sat out 2013.

    Additionally, Arizona signed former LSU QB Jerrard Randall out of junior college, and it has a commitment from 3-star dual-threat QB Brandon Dawkins.

    The Arizona Daily Star's Daniel Berk wrote about the progress that highly regarded QB Anu Solomon made during his redshirt season, putting him just as much in the mix as anyone else to start in 2014.

    Rich Rodriguez would like to see his quarterback field get much thinner during spring ball, with maybe even a solid front-runner emerging during that time.

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