Recruiting efforts for the Arizona Wildcats were slow going heading into July. Head coach Rich Rodriguez and staff only had six commitments secured halfway through the year, but have exceeded that amount in July by adding seven commitments, five coming this past weekend.
The biggest commitment of the weekend, size and otherwise, was arguably Long Beach (Calif.) City College defensive end Josh Allen. The 6-foot-4, 260-pound, tackling machine is widely considered a 4-star recruit, a rare ranking for a junior college player.
Allen had an outstanding 2014 season for the Vikings, recording 58 tackles, 17 tackles for a loss, seven sacks, four pass breakups, and three forced fumbles. Arizona beat out in-state rival Arizona State, Colorado State, Boise State, Washington State, South Alabama, San Diego State, Iowa State, Fresno State, San Jose State and Louisville in landing Allen.
Also committing on Saturday was shifty, all-purpose back JJ Taylor. Taylor (5-6, 155) also received offers from Nevada, Ohio and Washington State before landing with the Wildcats.
Arizona went back into southern California for slot receiver Devaughn Cooper. Cooper (5-10, 170) visited the Wildcats back in April, leading many to believe they were the front-runners for the Narbonne High School talent. Washington, Michigan, Kansas, Colorado and Washington State have each offered Cooper.
Landing Gavin Robertson might turn out to be one of the bigger steals for Arizona in its 2016 recruiting class. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound recruit was snubbed by in-state powers Washington and Washington State, only landing an offer from FCS member Eastern Washington. Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and Hawaii were the FBS programs to offer Auburn Mountainview High School athlete.
Keeping with the smaller, all-purpose-type of backs, Rodriguez and company also accepted the commitment of Tyliek Raynor. Raynor (5-9, 170) was perhaps the most widely recruited player committing to Arizona over the weekend. College coaches seeing Raynor in multiple positions at the next level jumped at the chance to bring him to their campus in 2016. Among those extending an offer included West Virginia, Miami, Rutgers, Boston College, Illinois, Iowa, Syracuse, Temple, Wake Forest, Purdue and Maryland.
Raynor was instant offense for Imhotep Institute in 2014. The Philadelphia-area talent had 1,327 yards rushing on 99 carries with six touchdowns.
A recruiting note worth mentioning, all four of Arizona’s verbal commitments at the tailback position are undersized backs. Raynor and Taylor join Russell Halimon (5-9, 180 from Allatoona, Ga.) and Sean Riley (5-9, 165 from Harbor City, Calif.). Arizona clearly has a style of offense they want to utilize going forward, more than likely predicated off the success of true freshman Nick Wilson last season. Wilson (5-9, 199) rushed for 1,375 yards with 16 touchdowns even though he split time with senior Terris Jones-Grigsby.
— Written by Ryan Wright, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and an established media professional with more than two decades' worth of experience. Over the years, Wright has written for numerous sites and publications and he recently started his own recruiting site, www.recruitingnewsguru.com. Follow him on Twitter @HogManinLA.