Feb. 6, 2002
TUCSON, Ariz. - University of Arizona coach John Mackovic and staff today signed 23 prep players and one junior college standout to National Letters of Intent for the Wildcat football program's 2002 class. The group joins five junior college players signed in the winter period for the spring semester.
The overall group includes 14 offensive players, 13 defensive players and two kickers, all highly regarded in their home areas and beyond.
Arizona addressed some immediate needs on the defensive line, with six players signed for end or tackle positions, plus signed five offensive linemen, four defensive backs, three receivers, three running backs, three linebackers, two tight ends and one quarterback for an overall balanced class by position.
The new class is essentially Mackovic's initial group of signees, because last year's recruiting during his early tenure at Arizona hinged on caretaking efforts keyed on the group of players evaluated and assembled by former coach Dick Tomey and staff. Mackovic was hired Dec. 4 following Tomey's Nov. 24, 2000 resignation.
"This was our first real 12-month cycle for recruiting," Mackovic said. "When I assembled the staff, one of my top priorities from a technical standpoint was to get coaches who could go out and recruit, and bring players back who reflect on our program. Our coaches did a fabulous job. We identified a lot of players early, got in on the ground floor, maintained excellent contact, battled off some other schools, and brought in a good class of players," he said.
Mackovic cited current Wildcat players for their help in recruiting. "Our players did a remarkable job of expressing who we are and where we're going. That's important for a prospect in his decision process -- who and what kind of people he'll be with at Arizona."
A coach in the professional ranks for two years as an assistant to Tom Landry and head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs for four years from 1983-86, said college recruiting is an enjoyable process. "This is better than in pro football. You get a chance to know the players, you get a chance to know their families. It's the ultimate. In high school you coach the guys who show up. In the pros you coach the players who are signed. In college, both the coaches and the players get to select. It's a matching-up process that our coaches did well in 2002," he said.
The bulk of the prospects are from California (16) and Texas (11), with UA bringing in two in-state prep players and one Kansas junior college player. The bulk of the linemen have just that -- size -- with the offensive signees averaging 6-foot-6, 301 and the defensive linemen measuring in at an average of 6-foot-4, 255.
The overall class is rated in the nation's top 30 by some recruiting services. Among the 24 high school players, nine were named to All-America teams by recruiting publications and 11 were named to all-region teams. Two were named to the Long Beach Press-Telegram's Best in the West poll of college recruiters, seven were named to the Tacoma News Tribune's Western 100, and four earned first or second-team Las Vegas Sun Super 11 honors, among western media ratings.
Of the 10 Texas prep stars, seven were ranked by either the Dallas Morning News, Texas Sports Writers Association or Houston Chronicle as top-rated state players.
UA's five enrolled junior college players will participate in the Wildcats' spring drills starting March 1. Feburary signees report to campus in early August.