Arizona Wildcats' 2014 National Signing Day Wish List

Brian Pedersen@realBJPFeatured ColumnistJanuary 15, 2014

Arizona Wildcats' 2014 National Signing Day Wish List

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    Uncommitted athlete John Smith is a top target of Arizona
    Uncommitted athlete John Smith is a top target of

    The Arizona Wildcats are coming off a second straight 8-5 season that ended with a bowl victory. That's not earth-shattering for many schools, but it's a sign of consistency for the program in its first two seasons under Rich Rodriguez.

    The 2014 season will bring massive change for the Wildcats due to significant losses from the 2013 squad.

    Gone is record-breaking running back Ka'Deem Carey, who announced his intention to go pro on Monday. Arizona will also lose quarterback B.J. Denker, who came on strong toward the end of the season to become one of the country's top dual-threat passers. The Wildcats will also lose two-thirds of their linebackers and have smaller pieces to fill at various other positions.

    Many of these voids will need to be addressed via existing players, though the 2014 recruiting class could provide a great source of reinforcements as well. Arizona has seven signees already enrolled in school, while 21 others are committed to join the program.

    With national signing day a mere three weeks away, we will look at any last-minute wishes the Wildcats have for recruiting.

    NOTE: All recruiting rankings and ratings are courtesy of 247Sports.

Damian Prince

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    Damian Prince is one of the few 5-star recruits left on the board, and though he's a long shot to come to Tucson, that's not going to stop Arizona's Coach Rodriguez from trying to get him.

    The Wildcats have shown aggressiveness in going after East Coast players this year, briefly landing the commitment of 5-star cornerback Jalen Tabor before he ultimately flipped and enrolled this week at Florida. Arizona has never signed a 5-star player before.

    Prince is 6'5" and weighs 295 pounds, and 247Sports Composite has him as the No. 26 overall player and the No. 2 offensive tackle in the nation.

    Prince has not visited Arizona, nor is he scheduled to, so landing him would have to be done on the recruiting trail. He has visited Maryland and Florida State and still has trips to South Carolina and Florida scheduled before signing day.

John Smith

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    The 6'1" John Smith is rated as the No. 3 athlete in the country, according to 247Sports. And while he can play on both sides of the ball, either at receiver or cornerback, he'd be a key part of Arizona's secondary.

    The Wildcats use as many as eight defensive backs on certain passing downs, thus requiring plenty of fresh bodies to cycle in and out of the back line for the best coverage packages.

    Smith has visited Alabama, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Oregon, and he's scheduled to visit USC on Jan. 24. He doesn't have Arizona on his list of top choices, but the Wildcats occasionally pick off a strong player from Southern California, so stranger things have happened.

Nick Gates

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    Nick Gates is the last player Arizona has lined up to visit campus, with the Las Vegas offensive tackle set to officially visit on Jan. 17.

    At 6'5" and 270 pounds, Gates would be a great addition to an offensive line rotation that will lose three starters following the 2014 season. Gates is rated as the 41st-best offensive tackle in the country and the second-best recruit from Nevada, according to 247Sports.

    It won't be easy to land Gates, though.

    Since October, he's visited Texas A&M, Nebraska and Oregon, and he's scheduled to visit UCLA on Jan. 24.

Ismael Murphy-Richardson

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    Ismael Murphy-Richardson is a 3-star recruit from the Phoenix suburb of Goodyear, where he played the odd mix of wide receiver and defensive end at Desert Edge High School.

    At 6'4" and 215 pounds, though, Murphy-Richardson is projected as a linebacker in college. 247Sports has ranked him as the 43rd-best outside linebacker in the country.

    Murphy-Richardson's versatility would work well in Arizona's 3-3-5 defensive alignment, as he's shown the ability to rush the passer and drop back into coverage depending on the situation.

    He visited Tucson in December and still has visits over the next three weekends to USC, Oklahoma and Arizona State, respectively.