We are just past the halfway point of the regular season in college football, but much further along when it comes to recruiting. Although it may feel like a long time from now, coaching staffs have put a lot of work into the current recruiting classes they plan on nailing down on signing day in February of 2015.
Arizona already has a pretty full class of commits currently nearing the end of October and there is no shock that there aren't a ton of high rankings and big names on the list. Obviously that is not ideal, but Rich Rod won a ton of football games at West Virginia with similar recruiting results and Dick Tomey wasn't known for bringing in highly ranked players during his successful tenure coaching the Wildcats either.
What Rodriguez and Tomey both did a great job of was identifying the right fit both for their program and their schemes and finding players with the chance to develop into something more than their ranking would suggest. That same philosophy is what Rodriguez is doing right now with Arizona and the results are turning out pretty well on the field.
Instant impact player
It's hard to argue that 4 star offensive tackle Keenan Walker isn't the right guy in this category. He is the highest rated commit in the recruiting class by far and with good reason. He has all the tools to develop into an elite left tackle in the Pac-12.
The big question with Walker is his lack of finish in the run game. That's not going to cut it in Arizona's offense. I saw him in person at The Opening compete against the best in the nation and he held his own in many areas. I loved the way he competed. There was an edge to him that I didn't see from his junior film. If he can bring that edge consistently in the run game, then he has the chance to play early for the Wildcats.
Here's Walker drawing even on one on ones at the LA Nike camp against one of the top defensive lineman on the west coast, Joseph Wicker:
Don't sleep on ______
Usually I might only list one player in a class, but there are a whole bunch of under the radar kids with talent in Arizona's 2015 recruiting class. I'll limit it to three and keep it brief for each just so this section doesn't get ridiculous.
The first is 3 star linebacker Kendrick Jackson out of Haynesville, Louisiana. At 232 pounds, he has the size to play linebacker right now at the college level and has good enough speed to get all over the field. He needs to improve in coverage, but I really like his instincts and his physicality versus the run. He's one of four players from Louisiana currently committed.
The second is a Canadian kid, 3 star offensive tackle Harper Sherman. There is no doubt that he is going to have to adjust to a huge step up in competition and he needs to add weight and gain more experience in pass protection (his high school runs a run heavy scheme), but he gets after it as a run blocker.
He dominates at his level of football like he should and is constantly driving defenders down the field and putting them on their back. He will probably take a couple of years to develop, but he has the chance to be a very good offensive lineman.
The third is 3 star cornerback Samuel Morrison from Gonzaga Prep in Washington, D.C. Morrison is overshadowed on his own high school team by the corner opposite of him, Marcus Lewis. Lewis is the much higher rated player and a lot of that has to do with his physical talent. He is the prototype of what programs look for in a cover corner.
Morrison might not have the same measurables as Lewis, but he probably is the better football player right now. He's got some pretty good ball skills and does an outstanding job of tackling in run support. I would not be surprised to see him have a very good career at Arizona where he starts for multiple seasons.
Big fish still on the reel
Like I mentioned above, Arizona doesn't have too many big names on their list despite having an impressive season thus far. There are in the thick of it for 4 star linebacker Kyavha Tezino though.
Tezino has big time speed and is a very good player in coverage. He's a sideline to sideline player as a run defender and would be a huge pickup for the Wildcats.
Rich Rod knows he is not going to win too many head to head battles with the big boys, but I don't think that matters much to him. He does a great job of finding players with upside and the Wildcats have done that again with this recruiting class. If the program keeps progressing, they'll be in on a few more four stars each year, but it shouldn't change their methods of identifying and developing talent.