Tucson, AZ – 2016 couldn’t end soon enough for head coach Rich Rodriguez and his Arizona Wildcats.
The ‘Cats muddled through an ugly, injury-filled 3-8 season highlighted mainly by their 56-35 Territorial Cup blowout win over ASU in Tucson back in late November.
With a new year comes new opportunity and Rodriguez and his staff are hoping the 23 players signed Wednesday on National Letter of Intent Day will help revive a program just two seasons removed from a Pac-12 South Championship and Fiesta Bowl appearance.
The current group, which is expected to grow according to Rodriguez, includes 15 defensive players, seven on offense and one kicker.
“I really think the coaching staff and the support staff have done a great job of bringing in some fine, quality student athletes,” Rodriguez said Wednesday afternoon to the assembled media in Tucson. “True judgment is in two to three years down the road but I’m pretty happy we’re getting a lot of help right now.”
Some of the top signees from Arizona include Desert Ridge High’s Jalen Harris who had late interest from Notre Dame and others, athletic Higley tight end Bryce Gilbert and Tucson Sabino athlete Drew Dixon who Rodriguez said will play quarterback and wide receiver.
Coach Rodriguez on #ATeam17 – The explosiveness and athleticism of this group will make an immediate impact.
— Arizona Football (@ArizonaFBall) February 1, 2017
The Wildcats went heavy offering a high number of preferred walk-ons from the Valley including Desert Edge defensive end Dante Blissit, Brophy running back Noah Pittenger and Desert Mountain safety Rourke Freeburg among others.
Arizona signed 12 players from California, five from Arizona, two from Nevada and one each from Alabama, Florida, Maryland and Michigan. Rodriguez stressed he expects the list of additions to grow in the coming days and weeks.
For a complete list of the Wildcats’ 2017 recruiting class click here.