Buddy-Buddy: AZ’s Top Recruits Teaming Up At The Next Level

Arizona Sports News online

In the classic feature film “Heavy Weights”, camp counselor Lars implemented the “buddy system” while his campers swam. Having those he was responsible for pair up made it possible for him to try and flirt with Julie, the camp nurse.

Some of the top top high school football recruits in Arizona must feel nostalgic because it seems like they have adopted the buddy system when it comes to where they are going to play at the next level.

Multiple colleges, including three Pac-12 schools, are getting package deals with the state’s top talent.

Arizona State 

The Sun Devils nabbed Centennial offensive lineman Marshal Nathe as their first commit of the 2016 class way back in March. There is something about Richard Taylor’s program and grooming lineman, and Nathe was the leader of an offensive line that eventually won the Division I state title. He was knocked out midseason with a knee injury, but his impact was felt from the during the team’s playoff push.


The Devils added Chandler wide receiver and four-star recruit N’Keal Harry in November. Harry is considered by many to be the best receiver in the state and boasts a matchup problem at the next level as he stands at 6-foot-3, 210 pounds. The future Devil also impressed at the Under Armour All-American Bowl.


Harry’s teammate and best friend Chase Lucas followed suit, committing to the Sun Devils seven days later. Like Nathe, the running back missed significant time due to injury but came back strong for the Wolves. The plan is to move Lucas to the secondary, but Todd Graham has the option to use him as a playmaker in the offense as well.



Many thought the top player in the state, Byron Murphy, would stay true to ASU and join Lucas and Harry on the Sun Devils. But Murphy donned the purple and gold when he announced his college decision just on January 21st. The Huskies are receiving a four-star recruit who is known as a defensive back first but was also named to the MaxPreps All-American team as a wide receiver.


Chris Petersen was also able to snatch up a top quarterback in the 2016 class in Paradise Valley signal-caller Daniel Bridge-Gadd. Bridge-Gadd had a record-setting career for the Trojans and, thanks to his arm and his legs, led his team to the Division III state final.



Paul Chryst will bring in a legacy Badger in Saguaro quarterback Kare Lyles. In his two years running the Sabercat offense, Lyles led his team to two state titles. In addition to Kare, the Badgers have also received a commitment from his younger brother, offensive lineman Kayden Lyles, who may play his final year of high school in the state of Wisconsin.


When you face the big offensive lines of Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, and Iowa, you need some beef in the middle. The Badgers get just that in Hamilton defensive tackle Garrett Rand. Rand is a four-star recruit and wreaked havoc in the backfield for the Huskies.


Oregon State

There is something about Chandler Wolves and pairing up in the Pac-12. For Oregon State, they get a talented, do-it-all quarterback in Mason Moran and a pass rusher who put his face mask in the quarterback’s chest time and time again in Hamilcar Rashed. The Beavers were the first to offer Moran as a true quarterback. As a junior, schools had been recruiting him as an athlete because he was back-up to current Sun Devil Bryce Perkins. As a junior, Moran had plenty of field experience as an all-state safety on the 2014 state championship. Oregon State took a risk on a quarterback with limited experience, but it paid off. In Moran’s senior year, he found the end zone 33 times.


Rashed came to Chandler as a transfer and only had one year with the program, but he made his mark. As a defensive end, he had 100 total tackles on the year while adding 13 sacks and 13 tackles for loss. Rashed was a proven pass rusher before coming to Chandler, he recorded a 20-sack season with Cesar Chavez High School his junior year.



The Mustangs picked up a pair of Chaparral Firebirds that could end up being absolute steals. Defensive end Brandon Jamison has been one of the most dynamic edge rushers in the state the past few years. He led a stout Chaparral defense and ended up with 85 total tackles, 16 tackles for loss and 12 sacks. Watch him force a fumble here:


Tight end Christian Skeptaris has the build and bravado of one Rob Gronkowski. “Baby Gronk” as they call him, was a three-year starter for the Firebirds and one of the toughest matchups in the state for opposing defenses…and had fun doing it.


Northern Arizona

Like Moran, Mountain Pointe quarterback Jack Smith only had one year at quarterback with his team. Smith moved into the state after his father, Tracy Smith, took the ASU baseball head coaching job. He then took the Pride to a perfect regular season before losing to Centennial in the state semifinals. The Lumberjacks are getting a hell of an athlete in Smith, who threw for 15 touchdowns and ran for nine.


To put it simply, Centennial guard Steven Bailey can run people over. He set some key blocks in the Division I state title game that led to a quick lead for the Coyotes, and they never looked back. The 6’3″, 285 pound guard brings a bull dozer mentality to the offense, and picks up his teammates both literally and figuratively.


The Lumberjacks added a gem in the 2016 recruiting class in running back Joe Logan. In his four years at Estrella Foothills, Logan rushed for 5,814 yards and 78 touchdowns. NAU has a high-powered offense with Case Cookus at the helm, and Logan can provide a punch in the rushing game to an already prominent passing attack.


With Signing Day quickly approaching, most of the state’s talent has declared where they are playing at the next level.  Could there be some more “package deals”?

We’ll see when the faxes come in.