The 5 Recruits That Will Make or Break Arizona's National Signing Day
With two weeks remaining until national signing day, otherwise known as Christmas for college football coaches, Arizona is holding steady at 28 commitments for its 2014 recruiting class.
Though some Wildcat assistants are still out on the road meeting with committed and uncommitted players, it's very likely that no additions will be made, according to the Arizona Daily Star's Daniel Berk.
The key now, Berk wrote, is to make sure the recruits who plan to come to Arizona still send that signed fax on Feb. 5.
While not every player in the 2014 class is essential to Arizona's future success, there are a handful of players whose acquisitions will make or break the Wildcats' recruiting effort for this year.
Position: Dual-threat quarterback
Dimensions: 6'3", 206 lbs.
Why his signing matters: The 3-star recruit from Thousand Oaks, Calif., seems to be the perfect fit for Rich Rodriguez's read-option offense. He threw for nearly 3,400 yards with 38 touchdowns this past season, adding 537 rushing yards and six touchdowns, according to MaxPreps. Those numbers veer more to what Matt Scott did for Arizona in 2012 than what B.J. Denker produced last year.
Though Arizona currently has an overabundance of quarterbacks on the roster, Dawkins has all the skills that Arizona wants from its signal-caller. While he may not be in the mix for 2014, his signing is essential for 2015 and beyond.
Jamardre Cobb and Marquis Ware
Position: Outside linebackers
Dimensions: 6'2", 230 lbs. (Cobb) and 6'2", 215 lbs. (Ware)
Why their signings matter: Linebacker is where Arizona will enter 2014 at its thinnest, as two of the three starters from last year's team have graduated. It's a vital position in the 3-3-5 defensive alignment, as those players are expected to be able to interchangeably play up near the line or drop back into coverage.
Cobb and Ware, 4-star teammates at Los Angeles' Bishop Mora Salesian, are already used to playing alongside each other. They were the anchors of that team, and could be integral parts of the Wildcats defense.
Without them on board, Arizona might have to consider adjusting its scheme to add another safety to the field. That's not what defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel would like to do, which is why Cobb and Ware were targeted in this recruiting class.
Dimensions: 6'1", 170 lbs.
Why his signing matters: Denson was a do-everything player at Tucson's Salpointe Catholic High School, and he's been a key target of the hometown Wildcats for several years. He won a state championship in Arizona Stadium in November and is as locked in to being part of the program as any member of this recruiting class.
Denson could figure into numerous areas for Arizona, either as part of an already deep receiving corps, as added depth in the secondary or in the return game that was less than stellar in 2013. Denson excelled in all of those areas, so providing assistance in just one of them will be a huge help.
Position: Offensive tackle
Dimensions: 6'6", 335 lbs.
Why his signing matters: The 4-star La Jolla (Calif.) Country Day standout is Arizona's most recent commitment, coming on board in early January after decommitting from USC. He's both big and fast, which will fit well with the blocking schemes Arizona utilizes to open up the read-option run game as well as to keep up with speedy defensive ends.
Poland's importance goes beyond his on-field skills, as his choice to go to Arizona after initially pledging to USC can be looked at as a sign the Wildcats are real players for top Southern California talent.
Position: Running back
Dimensions: 5"11", 196 lbs.
Why his signing matters: Arizona has no succession plan in place for the loss of Ka'Deem Carey, its record-breaking running back who has declared for the NFL draft. There will be a handful of players fighting for the job in spring ball, but none have any experience.
Wilson runs like Carey, keeping his feet and hips moving at all times, which could give him the inside track even though he won't be in camp until the summer. At the very least, he provides an extra option beyond 2014 if a front-runner emerges during the spring.