Arizona Wildcat football
Football recruiting still a crapshoot
More info about high school football players than ever
The national signing date for college football teams is Wednesday, and the game of can-you-top-this in describing the recruiting haul of teams will be in full bloom.
I should know. I helped fuel the fire when I was the University of Arizona football beat writer for the Tucson Citizen from 1980-87, and then again in 1991 after a stint covering the NFL.
It’s amazing to see the industry that recruiting has begot.
The Citizen was one of the few papers in the West in 1980 that made recruiting coverage a big deal, but now players have their own Web sites and video highlights you can watch on YouTube, Scout.com has a countdown clock to signing date, and you can pay a few bucks per month to get all the recruiting info you need about your favorite team from Scout.com or Rivals.com or other sites.
There’s more information available about high school football players than ever before, but it is still a crapshoot.
Football recruiting is so much harder than, say, basketball recruiting. There aren’t as many games, there are no traveling teams, and there are no showcase tournaments where a sportswriter can watch a parade of talent. And despite all that exposure hoops players get, including routinely playing against older competition, UA has had its fair share of duds in basketball recruiting.
There are just so many more questions with football.
Is that big offensive lineman going to dig in harder when he’s facing someone who is stronger, faster and older, maybe five or six years older in the case of a senior who went on a Mormon mission, or will he level off?
Will that running back able to easily scoot away from high school defenders be able to adapt to the faster level of play and learn he can no longer turn the corner whenever he wants?
Will another day of practice in 100-degree heat prove to be too much?
Will that smart high school student be overwhelmed by the combined pressures of practices and academics?
There’s been speculation that UA’s lopsided loss to Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl will affect this year’s recruiting, but UA had one of its worst recruiting years in 1994 after beating Miami in the Fiesta Bowl.
After Arizona State beat Arizona 44-7 in 1980 on national TV, UA coach Larry Smith was asked how the loss would affect recruiting. “There’s some kid watching who is going to say ‘hey, I can play there right away,’ ” Smith quipped. Those 1981 recruits lost just once to ASU.
For what it’s worth, Rivals.com lists Arizona’s recruiting class at No. 42. Scout.com has UA at No. 45, which isn’t surprising because UA lost assistant coaches Mark Stoops and Sonny Dykes.