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The Top 10 Recruits to Sign with Arizona During the Internet Age

Willie Tuitama and Anu Solomon headline a group of talented players signed by the Wildcats.

Christian Petersen

Arizona continues our 12-part series where we are ranking the best recruits to sign with each Pac-12 school since the advent of serious recruiting coverage on the Internet (2002 serving as the furthest year back that you can find rankings for players online). Our rankings are put together by combining players' rankings from recruiting sites, offers and the amount of hype that surrounded their singings.

Please note that these are taking only into account how highly-rated players were coming out of high school, not their college careers. So please, no angry, insult-laden comments about how only a child murderer wouldn't realize that LaMichael James (Or any player who had a great college career, but was an under-the-radar recruit) should be number three on the list.

1. Willie Tuitama Class of 2005 QB Stockton, CA - St. Mary's

One of the best players to ever come out of the Stockton area, Tuitama was a big, athletic QB with a solid arm that was one of the best quarterbacks on the West Coast. Tuitama became the first huge recruiting score by Mike Stoops and his staff and signified that good things might be coming in Tucson when he chose the Wildcats over Nebraska and Washington. Tuitama brought the Wildcats back to respectability after seasons as a doormat and ended up breaking a number of passing records.

2. Anu Solomon Class of 2013 QB Las Vegas, NV - Bishop Gorman

Solomon might be the best quarterback to ever come out of Las Vegas and led powerhouse Bishop Gorman with his athletic game and leadership skills. Solomon committed to Arizona early over a number of other schools and kind of held off more schools from offering. Solomon is considered a dark horse candidate to win the starting quarterback position as a true freshman in Fall camp.

3. Robert Golden Class of 2008 CB Fresno, CA - Edison

A fantastic cover corner with great strength and instincts, Golden was given five stars by Scout and was one of the top-rated cornerbacks in the nation. Golden was a huge score for Mike Stoops and Arizona as he chose the Wildcats over Fresno State, Oregon and Oregon State. Golden had a good career as a Wildcat, but was never a star and has started a career in the NFL after going undrafted.

4. Rob Gronkowski Class of 2007 TE Pittsburgh, PA - Woodland Hills

Long before he was "Gronk," Gronkowski was simply one of the top tight end recruits in the nation and a massive prospect with great blocking skills. Gronk followed his brother to Arizona and chose the Wildcats over Ohio State and Clemson. Gronkowski quickly became one of the best tight ends to ever play in the Pac-12 and has gone onto become the best tight end in the NFL.

5. Devin Ross Class of 2006 CB Rancho Cucamonga, CA

One of the top-rated cornerbacks in the country and a four-star prospect by Scout, Ross had fantastic speed and instincts. Ross was recruited hard by schools all over the West Coast and became another big time early recruit signed by Stoops when he chose Arizona over Nebraska, Oregon and USC. Ross had a good career at Arizona which peaked in his senior year when he broke up 13 passes and grabbed three interceptions.

6. Richard Kovalcheck Class of 2003 QB San Diego, CA - St. Augustine

A prolific passer with good accuracy and size, Kovalcheck was rated as a four-star recruit by Scout and was one of the best QBs out West in his class. Kovalcheck played out his recruitment and ended up choosing Arizona over Colorado, Tennessee and Washington. Kovalcheck started for the Wildcats for a while, but ultimately was beaten out by Tuitama and finished his career at Vanderbilt.

7. Xavier Smith Class of 2005 RB Tucson, AZ - Sunnyside

A rare national recruit to come out of Tucson, Smith had great size and speed and was one of the top-rated running back recruits on the West Coast. Smith decided to stay home and it probably prevented other schools from recruiting him harder. Smith ended up having a shortened career as a Wildcat.

8. Terry Longbons Class of 2005 RB Peoria, AZ - Centennial

Longbons was a freak athlete who ran a 4.4 40 at 211 pounds and ran for an insane amount of yards in high school. Longbons seemed to want to stay in-state and ended up choosing the Wildcats over Arizona State causing a ton of excitement about forming a backfield with Smith. Like Smith, Longbons didn't have much of a career in Tucson.

9. Michael Jefferson Class of 2002 WR El Paso, TX - Parkland

A perfect package at receiver at 6'3 205 while being able to run a 4.4 40, Jefferson was one of the top receivers in the state of Texas in his class. Jefferson visited Colorado, Purdue and Texas Tech before signing with Arizona. Jefferson showed promise early in his career, but transferred to Montana State before his senior season.

  1. Delashaun Dean Class of 2006 WR Fairfield, CA

A rangy receiver at 6'4 190, Dean was a great jump ball receiver with long arms and rated a four-star prospect by Scout. Dean was coveted by as number of West Coast schools and chose Dean over Colorado and Oregon. Dean was a good receiver for the Wildcats for three years but ended up transferring to Texas A&M.

Others considered

Solomon Koehler Class of 2008 DT Kaneohe, HI - Castle

Terrell Reese Class of 2006 WR Pfulgerville, TX - Hendrickson

Michael Shelton Class of 2005 DE Compton, CA - Dominguez

Brandon Tatum Class of 2005 S Fort Worth, TX - Dunbar

Kaniela Tuipulotu Class of 2007 DT Kahuku, HI