TUCSON, Arizona — With a heavy reliance on California and a three-player dip into Florida, Rich Rodriguez added some much-needed defense and bolstered his trademark offensive firepower with his third recruiting class at Arizona.
Fourteen of his 25 recruits come from California, headed by linebacker teammates Jamardre Cobb and Marquis Ware of Bishop Mora Salesian High School in Los Angeles. Both were rated 4-star recruits by Rivals.com and Scout.com. They committed together last August.
"Some people tackle," Rodriguez said. "Cobb and Ware will blow you up."
Arguably the top recruit in the class came from the program's backyard, 4-star wide receiver Cam Denson from Tucson's Salpointe Catholic High, one of three recruits from the state. Denson, the azcentral.com (Arizona Republic), state player of the year, played quarterback, wide receiver, defensive back and kick returner in leading Salpointe to an undefeated season and the state championship.
Denson was the first of this class to commit to Arizona, announcing his decision in January of last year.
Among the Florida recruits are four-star wide receiver T.J. Johnson from Cape Coral and quarterback Jerrard Randall from Hollywood, Florida, via Northeast Mississippi Community College.
Randall, who enrolled at Arizona in January, was a highly recruited high school player and spent two seasons at LSU. He was a redshirt there in 2011 and didn't play in 2012 before transferring to the community college. Rodriguez said he was struck by Randall's attitude.
"He's doing the junior college thing, eating ramen noodles and doing the hard life," Rodriguez said, "and he just seemed hungry. He had a little spark about him. ... I'm really excited about him. He can run. A lot of the stuff we do, I think he's a perfect fit for."
The Wildcats got another four-star recruit at the last minute when defensive lineman Marcus Griffin of Bellevue, Washington, chose Arizona on Wednesday. He originally committed to Washington State and also considered Cal.
Of the recruits, 14 play offense and 11 defense.
National rankings (Rivals 28; Scout 29)
Best in class: Cam Denson, WR, Tucson, Arizona
Best of the rest: Jamardre Cobb, LB, Harbor City, California; LB Marquis Ware, LB, Bellflower, California; QB Jerrard Randall, QB, NE Mississippi CC; T.J. Johnson, WR, Cape Coral, Florida
Late addition: Marcus Griffin, DL, Bellevue, Washington
One that got away: Jalen Tabor, CB, Washington, D.C.
NOTES: With the addition of Randall and high schooler Brandon Dawkins (Oxnard, California), Rich Rodriguez has a bunch of quarterbacks to choose from as he looks for a replacement for senior B.J. Denker. "Some people say I collect quarterbacks," Rodriguez said. "Yeah, I do. It's better than collecting seashells." ... The defection of CB Naijiel Hale to Washington was accompanied by a good riddance sort of message from Rodriguez. Not mentioning Hale by name, he said if a player makes a commitment, then visits another school, he's not committed anymore. "He didn't marry you, he's just dating you," Rodriguez said. "I keep reminding guys it's our scholarship, not theirs."