The Importance of Winning the Battle for Arizona

Rick PowellContributor IFebruary 15, 2010

With the commitment of Marquis Flowers, Coach Mike Stoops accomplished a task that had eluded him during his tenure at the University of Arizona. Coach Stoops had never landed the No. 1 ranked player in the state of Arizona. In fact, the Wildcats haven’t seen the number one ranked Arizona player since Mike Bell committed in 2001.

Stoops has battled ASU, USC, Oregon, and many other national football powerhouses for the top talent in the state and has lost many of those battles.

Kris O’Dowd was right in UofA’s backyard and chose to go to USC in 2007. Everson Griffen was a Top 10 prospect from Avondale and UofA again lost out to USC. 

Coach Stoops received commitments from Gerrell Robinson and Jarrell Barbour in 2008, only to see them decommit to Arizona State later in the recruiting process.

Arizona State has decimated the UofA for in-state recruits over the last three recruiting classes. Since 2007 UofA has added only seven Arizona high schoolers to its roster, while ASU has seen twenty-five commit.

The class of 2010, however, marked a shift in the battle for Arizona. The Wildcats recent success has allowed them to recruit the in-state prospects more efficiently. Arizona State’s lack of recent success has had a converse effect. The Wildcats landed five of the state’s top talents, while Arizona State only picked up four.

The Arizona housing boom of the 1990’s and early 2000’s brought an array of families to the state. The increase in population has undoubtedly led to an increase in football talent and coaching talent. So, the importance to recruit the state strongly is now greater than ever with better talent emerging.

Marquis Flowers committing to the Wildcats was a triumph of extreme importance as it sends the message to other top talent in the state that Arizona is a contender for their services as well.

The Class of 2011 in Arizona looks to be one of the strongest in recent history. Chandler Hamilton offensive lineman Christian Westerman is already one of the highest recruited prospects in the country, and could be the top ranked overall prospect by the time the recruitment period is over.

The Wildcats hope to make an impression with the blue-chip, but Westerman will be an extremely tough pull, as Notre Dame is looking to make Westerman their top priority for the 2011 class.

Tucson Canyon Del Oro running back Ka’Deem Carey has the potential to be one of the best running backs to ever come out of Tucson. Many colleges have backed off the recruit due to grade issues, but if he qualifies, many of those schools will come calling again. Arizona seems to be the heavy favorite in this battle and the fact that they did not take a running back in the 2010 class could help sway Carey even more.

Chandler’s Brett Hundley, Brophy’s Garrett Wilson, and Queen Creek’s Adam Brzeczek are all quarterbacks that look to be nationally recruited.

Brett Hundley is a UofA legacy, as father Brett Sr.played for the ‘Cats back in the early 1980’s. Hundley may or may not project as a quarterback at the Division 1 level, but the wildcats are still evaluating him. Should Hundley earn an offer, it would be hard to imagine him going elsewhere.

Jacob Arzouman, Andre Yruretagoyena, and Todd Peat are other in-state prospects that have earned Arizona offers thus far, but many more in-state prospects look to impress at UofA’s Junior Day.

Arzouman is a heavy UofA lean, but is looking to take his time with the recruiting process. Yruretagoyena has publicly said that he grew up rooting for Arizona, but he also has said he is looking to attend college outside of Arizona. Todd Peat will be tough to pull away from ASU, but the Wildcats are looking to gear up for another in-state battle with his recruitment.

The increase in talent level in the state of Arizona is evident by the types of schools that have come in to the state to take those prospects away. Arizona is looking to make an impression on those prospects and convince them to do what they previously have not done–bring their talent to UofA.

One year of beating ASU is an indicator that the recruiting advantage in Arizona is beginning to shift towards UofA, but it is not a consummate fact. If Arizona would like to maintain their in-state advantage they will need to make a lofty impression with their 2011 class, and with the state’s talent level at an all-time high, now would be the best of times to make that impression.