Wildcats score in San Diego, Las Vegas

After salvaging a decent recruiting class in his first year in Tucson, Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez and his staff came out swinging for the 2013 class. With National Signing Day on Wednesday, it appears the Wildcats staff may have hit a home run.

Scout.com currently ranks UA’s expected signing class No. 24 in the nation, up from 46th last year. How did UA come up with such a strong class and what are the highlights? For answers to those questions and more, we talked to Scout’s Brandon Huffman, a national recruiting analyst and West regional manager.

Scout currently has Arizona ranked as the No. 24 class in the nation. What’s your overall take on the group expected to sign with UA?

I really like it. One thing I like about this class is the staff did a really good job in California and a good job in-state. It’s kind of the anti-Mike Stoops class, where he kept trying to get into Texas and use those ties. This staff has almost made it a point to say “No, we need to stay in Arizona.” One of the things I really like is how well they did in the city of San Diego. I don’t want to call San Diego an untapped market, but I would say there’s been a lot of good talent there that’s been overlooked.

Maybe it’s one of the San Diego guys or someone else, but who do you believe is the crown jewel of Rich Rodriguez’s expected signing class?

I love (Las Vegas Bishop Gorman quarterback) Anu Solomon. Any time you can get a four-star quarterback, an All-American quarterback, a kid who’s won three state championships, it’s a big deal. And they didn’t just get a quarterback of the future, they also got a stop-gap guy in (former USC commit and El Camino College prospect) Jesse Scroggins. So with those quarterbacks, they’ve got help now and a couple years from now. And then I love their running back class between Pierre Cormier and Zachary Green.

FSAZ: Looking closer at Solomon, can he end up being another Brett Hundley or Marcus Mariota type, really emerging as a redshirt freshman?

Huffman: That’s a pretty good comparison. The only difference between Mariota and Anu Solomon physically is Mariota probably has two or three inches on Solomon, and he might be a step faster. But they’re very, very similar quarterbacks. They have that quick release, a lot of good spin on their passes, and they’re the kind of guys that are kind of like “Hey, all you other guys on offense, get on my back, I’m going to carry you.” The first two years Solomon was the starting quarterback at Bishop Gorman, he was blessed with a lot of talent around him. This year was not a very talented team, so there was more expected from him, and he played the best he has in those three years. If he can go through a growth spurt, he could be a Marcus Mariota clone.

FSAZ: And how about Scroggins? Opinions seem mixed about what he can provide the Wildcats next season, assuming he wins the job.

Huffman: There’s a lot of assumption that Jesse Scroggins is a dual threat quarterback. He’s not a dual threat quarterback. He is a pro-style quarterback who’s got some athleticism, but he’s not a dual threat quarterback. He’s not like Matt Scott. He’s the kind of guy that’s more comfortable dropping back into the pocket and throwing the ball. There’s a reason he went to USC — he just fit with what USC was doing offensively. He’s got very similar arm strength to Matt Scott, same kind of release, but he’s not nearly as athletic. And I don’t know if his football IQ is what Matt Scott’s is.

FSAZ: Is there a player in UA’s expected signing class that might come in under the radar and surprise people?

Huffman: A lot of it depends on what Ka’Deem Carey’s deal ends up being. If he has to sit out an extended period of time or even some time, that will open the door for a guy like Pierre Cormier to come in. I also know their secondary is getting a little older next year, so I could see a guy like Derek Babiash (a four-star cornerback from Poway High School in California) come in and play early. That might be a good guy to get on the field as a freshman. He’s a little bit overlooked because he committed so early, but he had a fantastic high school career. He’s a guy I think has a chance to play a pretty significant role early in his career.

FSAZ: To compare a bit within the state, is the UA staff doing a better job penetrating regional recruiting hotbeds like Southern California or right here in state than Arizona State is?

Huffman: I think so. They did a good job in the Phoenix area getting some guys, and already moving forward to next year they’ve got a top 10 receiver in (Tucson Salpointe Catholic’s) Cameron Denson. It’s important to keep that local kid home. But again I think the real notable thing about the 2013 class is they were willing to go to San Diego and take some guys that had some other Pac-12 schools pretty heavily after them.