For a program that prides itself on being built on speed and aggressiveness, Arizona isn't moving that swiftly on the 2016 recruiting trail.
Though national signing day is still more than eight months away, the Wildcats are far behind the national curve when it comes to commitments. As of Thursday, they have secured pledges from just five players for the 2016 class, according to 247Sports, a far cry from the double-digit commits several other FBS schools already have lined up.
Arizona had six commitments by the end of May last year, then went on a binge during the summer with a dozen more in the three months prior to the 2014 season. It ended up signing 23 players and had the nation's No. 42-ranked class.
It's far too soon to pass judgement on Arizona's overall class, but not too early to give it some interim grades. Here's how the Wildcats rate to this point.
|Arizona's 2016 Offensive Commitments|
|Russell Halimon||RB||Acworth, Georgia (Allatona)||3-star|
|Devon Modster||QB||Rancho Santa Margarita, California (Tesoro)||4-star|
|Sean Riley||APB||Harbor City, Calif. (Narbonne)||3-star|
|Khalil Tate||ATH (QB)||Gardena, Calif. (Junipero Serra)||3-star|
The most notable part of Arizona's four-person offensive group set to join the 2016 team is the presence of two quarterback prospects. The Wildcats didn't sign a passer in 2015, and after Connor Brewer transferred to Northern Arizona this spring, that leaves them with just three scholarship quarterbacks on the roster.
Backup Jerrard Randall is a senior, and while Anu Solomon should be entrenched in the starting spot through at least the 2016 season, the added depth will bode well for that year and beyond.
Devon Modster is the jewel of the group, the No. 10 pro-style passer in his class who picked Arizona over Boise State and UCLA. He threw for more than 2,600 yards and 24 touchdowns and added another 680 rushing yards and 12 scores in 2014, and his blend of arm strength and mobility should be a perfect fit in head coach Rich Rodriguez's spread offense.
Modster came on board four weeks after Arizona landed Khalil Tate, another California product who ran for 1,287 yards while throwing for just under 1,400 yards with 34 total touchdowns (17 rushing, 17 passing) last year. There was speculation that Tate might reopen his recruitment after Modster committed, but he took to Twitter the same day to quell that rumor.
According to Brad Allis of 247Sports, the Wildcats were "pretty open with their recruits" that they would be looking to sign two quarterbacks for 2016.
The desire to have multiple options for the run portion of the spread is evident as well, as Arizona has already secured two rushing prospects who could also work as slot receivers. Russell Halimon was the most recent addition, in mid-April, and that would have given Arizona three running backs in the class, but a few days later 3-star Texas prospect Trevor Speights decommitted.
While the skill acquisitions to this point look promising, they don't have the accompanying blockers up front to balance out the offense. Until Arizona secures some offensive line commitments, this unit won't earn high overall praise.
Justin Holt is the No. 12 player in Arizona and the top-rated player from the Tucson area, so his commitment helps keep the Wildcats true to their desire to hold on to the best local prospects. But the son of former Arizona linebacker Julius Holt doesn't figure to be an instant impact player, but at this point he's the only defensive pledge on board.
Arizona's 3-3-5 alignment is such that it needs to cycle fresh bodies onto the field on a regular basis to keep up with the uptempo offenses in the Pac-12, so depth is imperative. The Wildcats' 2015 class included 11 defensive players, seven of who will contribute in the secondary.
Junior linebacker Scooby Wright III, who won three major national defensive awards in 2014, is likely to turn pro after this season, and his departure will leave a huge void. The Wildcats didn't sign a linebacker this past February, and that figures to be an area they'll push hard to get commitments for this summer.
Recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.
Follow Brian J. Pedersen on Twitter at @realBJP.