One thing that any college football fan that follows recruiting and gets caught up in the rankings has to understand is that all 3 star players are not equal.
There are hundreds of recruits with a 3 star ranking beside their name, but some of those recruits are far better prospects than others with the same ranking. It's something to remember when trying to sift through where your college football team is ranked nationally when it comes to recruiting.
Arizona is one of the hottest programs in the nation in recruiting with nine commitments in the month of July and because of that, they shot up 26 spots in the 247Sports team rankings all the way up to 31st overall. Part of that has to do with quantity, but a closer look at the class Rich Rodriguez and his staff are putting together reveals that the Wildcats have some very good prospects committed to go to school and play football in Tucson.
There may not be a ton of 4 and 5 stars on their commitment list, but a lot of these guys should end up being very good players in the Pac-12.
Not one, but two good quarterback prospects in this class
It always begins and ends with the quarterback position in football and Rodriguez is bringing in a couple of really talented players to compete at the position after Anu Solomon finishes his college career. Devon Modster is a similar prospect to Solomon in that he has mobility to escape the rush, but delivers a nice ball from the pocket. He may look to create a little bit too early if his first read isn't there, but that should improve with more experience.
The other quarterback commitment reminds me a lot more of former West Virginia quarterback Pat White, a player who thrived under Rodriguez as a runner form the quarterback position. Khalil Tate is bigger and stronger than White was at the same time in their development, but he is dynamic athlete just like White was. He has some work to do to progress as a passer, although he should present an intriguing future option at the quarterback position for the Wildcats. And if quarterback doesn't work out, I certainly think he could make an impact at wide receiver down the line as well.
Junior college prospects Allen and Iakopo should help immediately
Both defensive lineman Josh Allen and safety London Iakopo could physically step onto the 2015 Wildcats' team and contribute right away and I certainly think they'll be ready to do so in 2016.
Allen moves extremely well for his size (6'4" 260) and has tremendous upside to be a great run defender. He needs to improve his ability to recognize and adjust to blocks as he gets away with some bad steps by being physically superior than the player attempting to block him at the junior college level, but the raw tools are there for him to be a very good player for a couple of years in Arizona's defense.
Iakopo absolutely punishes receivers after the catch and is as aggressive a safety as you'll see on any level. He's a very good athlete that could be a fit at anyone of the three safety positions in their defense.
Arizona might be known for their defense in a few years
Scooby Wright gets plenty of accolades on the Arizona defense right now, but any team that Rich Rodriguez coaches is likely going to be known for the number of points it puts up on the board. That could end up changing, though, because I really like the pieces they are adding on the defensive side of the ball in this class.
In addition to Allen and Iakopo, I'm a big fan of defensive end Jake Burton (6'6" 250). He is an athlete with a great first step at his size. He needs to get stronger and be more violent with his hands, but I think the future is very bright for him. I think Jacob Colacion can develop into a complete linebacker for them as well. He is a fluid player in coverage and has great timing as a blitzer.
A physical box safety like Gavin Robertson should find a role sometime during his career in Tucson and cornerback Isaiah Hayes is also a player with great length at the cornerback position that is going to get better once he spends some time in their strength and conditioning program. Not all of these guys are going to make an impact right away, but all of them have the potential to become high level starters.
Running backs J.J. Taylor and Sean Riley seem like perfect fits
Both of these players are undersized and it's more than understandable that they aren't highly ranked players. But sometimes the scheme fit can make up for other limitations and I think Taylor and Riley could both find a fit in the Arizona offense. Taylor is never going to be a bell cow back. That doesn't mean he can't contribute splash plays, though. He is dynamic in the open field and has awesome burst. Even if he doesn't become a huge factor on offense, he has the potential to be an All Pac-12 kick returner.
Riley is just a taller version of Taylor and I actually think he could end up moving to the slot and being great in that role. He's another guy who has the speed to make an impact and Rodriguez can put players like him in a position to exploit specific match-ups with defenders.
Overall, I really like what Arizona has been able to do so far with this class. Most of the kids are not going to make an impact right away, but if the majority of them develop like they should, this is a class that is going to help keep them contenders in the Pac-12 South.