Arizona’s 2020 class breakdown: Amid some optimism, a late flip hurts (2024)

Arizona’s 2020 recruiting class took another substantial blow Monday when three-star Seattle cornerback Alphonse Oywak decommitted, opting to play his college football at Washington State instead. Oywak, the 65th-best cornerback in the nation per 247sports.com, was the team’s highest-ranked prospect. Three-star offensive line commit Cedric Melton also flipped, taking his talents to Ole Miss.

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The Wildcats still managed to add six players to the fold during signing day on Wednesday, giving them 18 so far, including two graduate transfers (WR Brenden Schooler and DT Aaron Blackwell). Arizona is also expected to land Canadian defensive lineman Paris Shand, who will make his announcement this weekend.

Here’s an updated positional breakdown of Arizona’s 2020 class, and a look at where it stands in the national recruiting rankings.

Full disclosure: It’s not pretty.

Recruiting rankings

Total prospects: 18

National ranking: No. 64 (247Sports composite)

Pac-12 ranking: No. 12 (247Sports composite)

By state/country: Texas (4), Arizona (3), California (2), Florida (2), Illinois (1), Louisiana (1), Missouri (1), Oregon (1), Kansas (1), Canada (1), Germany (1)

By star: three-star (18)

Position breakdown:

Quarterback (1): Will Plummer

Running back (2): Frank Brown, Jalen John

Receiver (2): Dyelan Miller, Majon Wright

Tight end (2): Roberto Miranda, Stacey Marshall Jr.

Offensive line (3): Josh Baker, Leif Magnuson, Woody Jean

Defensive line (3): Regen Terry, Dion Wilson, Shontrail Key

Linebacker (2): Derick Mourning, Jabar Triplett

Defensive back (2): Khary Crump, Edric Whitley

Special teams (1): Tyler Loop

Arizona’s coaches took to social media on Wednesday to share their thoughts on the program’s six new signees. Here’s what they had to say about each prospect.

Frank Brown Jr. (RB)

Three-star | Houston, Texas

Inside receivers coach Theron Aych: “Frank is a dynamic football player. He’s arguably the top player in the city of Houston this season. He’s very versatile. Frank can play running back. He can play receiver. Solid kid. Great family. He’s gonna be not just a great football player but a great person in the community that people are going to enjoy being around. You can see his speed. He’s got great vision. Just a kid who can do a lot of different things.”

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Edric Whitley (CB)

Three-star | Pflugerville, Texas

Secondary coach Demetrice Martin: “This cat is cat-quick. Good football twitch. Long speed. Very aware corner. This guy is going to be a real big steal. You can never have too much speed in the defensive secondary. Very good jumping ability, football intelligence, football awareness, knowing where the ball is going even before it’s released from the quarterback’s hand. It’s big time when you have guys that can locate the ball in the air and have enough confidence to come off their guy and go make a play wherever the ball is at. We all know that is the key to the game.”

Shontrail Key (DL)

Three-star | Chicago, Ill.

Defensive line coach Stan Eggen: “Big, strong, physical guy that has played just one year of football. Explosive. Has great length, and that’s what we were trying to add to our football team this season. Great get-off. Very disruptive. The ceiling is extremely high. Has a good punch. Still learning to play low with good pad level. But on his get-off, he is low. He’s a physical player, accelerates, redirects, chases the ball. You can see his athleticism. Big guy that has the ability to get his hands up and knock passes down.”

Jabar Triplett (LB)

Three-star | Baton Rouge, La.

Inside receivers coach Theron Aych: “The one thing that really drew me to Jabar was his leadership, not only with the guys currently on his team but I’ve noticed that, too, with the guys that are on our team and that he’s trying to help recruit. This guy has got all the tools of some of the greats here. Very heady player that can come downhill and smack you. He’s the perfect linebacker for me — very soft-spoken, quiet, well-mannered kid off the field, but on the field, he is a true football player. He’s physical, he’s tough. Very nasty.”

Leif Magnuson (OL)

Three-star | Canada

Offensive line coach Kyle DeVan: “You get a kid that’s athletic, he’s smart, he’s physical. He comes from a football family; his dad played at Washington State when Coach Sumlin was there in the early ’90s. Really fell in love with the makeup and the character. His ability to get to the second level is really remarkable. We want guys that can run, that can play in space. We talk about range all the time — the ability to cover ground, whether you’re reaching on the front side or cutting off. This kid has it. He’s going to play with an attitude. He’s just getting to the second level and knocking the crap out of a linebacker.”

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Derick Mourning (LB)

Three-star | Katy, Texas

In the Film Room: @CoachPRhoads on Derick Mourning. #BlockA20 | #BearDown pic.twitter.com/wbbyhghTjz

— Arizona Football (@ArizonaFBall) February 5, 2020

Defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads: “He’s got great length. We feel like he’s got a lot of growth potential and with that length can become a big linebacker for us, either inside or outside. Great speed to play in space and to run things down. That’s one of the things we’re looking for in our linebackers. He’s got great flexibility and what we refer to as great bend. He’s got the ability to get under the pads of both running backs and offensive tackles. Great redirect. A very, very productive player that has an advanced skill set at rushing the passer.”

Final thoughts

  • Arizona’s recruiting struggles in 2020 are a direct result of its on-field product. The Wildcats ended 2019 on a seven-game losing streak and are just 9-15 in two seasons under Kevin Sumlin. Sumlin’s success at Texas A&M hasn’t meant much to the nation’s top prospects. Until the Wildcats show considerable improvement on the field and establish a winning culture, their recruiting struggles will continue. However, landing three in-state prospects, including top defensive end Regen Terry, shows signs of progress.
  • This year’s recruiting cycle was all about upgrading its defense, a unit that ranked last in the Pac-12 in total defense last season. The Wildcats had just three defensive signees in December. They added four more on Wednesday, including three front-seven defenders. Including New Mexico graduate transfer Aaron Blackwell, that makes eight. It appears Sumlin and Rhoads have placed an emphasis on size as the team transitions to a 3-4 base scheme. Every defensive lineman in this year’s class has an average height of 6 feet 3 or taller.
  • With running backs Nathan Tilford, Bam Smith and Michael Wiley returning, Arizona will once again be ridiculously deep at the position. I think it will be tough for Brown Jr. and John to crack the rotation if all three of those guys stay healthy, so a redshirt season for one or both freshmen seems likely. I’ll say it again: There just won’t be enough carries to go around.
  • Triplett has tons of upside. At 6-1, 220 pounds, he has elite size for a linebacker and could develop into a defensive nightmare. While Triplett doesn’t possess the best sideline-to-sideline speed, at least on film, it’s apparent that he knows how to lower the boom. With the right coaching, this kid can develop into a beast and starter for Arizona down the road.
  • Arizona has eight offensive linemen who started a game in 2019 who are expected to return in 2020. When healthy, those guys are good enough to get the job done. However, injuries killed the Wildcats up front last season. Adding three more offensive linemen in this year’s class (Baker, Magnuson, Jean) is helpful in terms of creating depth. However, I don’t expect any of those three to see the field this season.
  • Terry is the only freshman I see playing immediately in 2020. As mentioned, running backs Brown Jr. and John will be buried on the depth chart. The other 15 prospects are still raw and will take some time to develop.

(Photo of Kevin Sumlin: Mark J. Rebilas / USA Today Sports)

Arizona’s 2020 class breakdown: Amid some optimism, a late flip hurts (2024)
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