Signing Day blog: Arizona lands linebacker from Michigan - Tucson News Now

Signing Day blog: Arizona lands linebacker from Michigan

Rich Rodriguez (Photo courtesy of Jordan Glenn/Arizona Athletics) Rich Rodriguez (Photo courtesy of Jordan Glenn/Arizona Athletics)
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

2:38 p.m.

Some updates while waiting for the Rich Rodriguez press conference:

Lorenzo Burns, in a poorly kept secret, made it official and signed with Arizona. Victor Viramontes picked Cal over Arizona.

And in very good news for the Cats, safety Chacho Ulloa, signed with Arizona. He is a former Stanford commit.

* * *

11:28 a.m.

Stay tuned throughout the day at this link. Arizona will have more signees as kids make decisions/announcements. Look for decisions from four-star safety Chacho Ulloa, three-star receiver/defensive back Lorenzo Burns and athlete Victor Viramontes this afternoon.

Arizona is in great shape with Ulloa and Burns. Viramontes will pick between Cal (which wants him as a quarterback) and Arizona (which likes him as a linebacker).

Also, receiver DeVaughn Cooper, who has been committed to Arizona, will choose among the Wildcats, ASU and Syracuse.

Rich Rodriguez is scheduled to have a press conference at 2:30 p.m.

* * * 

11:25 a.m.

Arizona wraps up its live stream portion of Signing Day with the signing of 6-foot-6 receiver Shawn Poindexter from Glendale Community College. The Wildcats got on him late and flipped him a day after the committed to Marshall. 

With the loss of Cayleb Jones (left early to turn pro) and David Richards, Arizona's receiving corps is short, so this signing address the need for a jump-ball, big-play outside receiver.

* * *

11:16 a.m.

One of the themes of this class is the addition of long, rangy defensive backs.

New defensive coordinator Marcel Yates explained on Arizona's live stream on Signing Day.

"The game is changing as far as offenses are trying to get DBs in space. They want to make those guys tackle," Yates said.

"So when you have longer guys that can cover ground and can get there a lot quicker, they can get guys on the ground. I think the thing about the game is that the 'tackle football' part of it is gone. Everybody calls it football. It's 'tackle football.'

"The ideal is if you can be good tackling and get guys down and stop those long runs or those long pass plays, you have a chance to be good on defense."

* * *

11:10 a.m.

Depending on which recruiting service you look at, either quarterback Khalil Tate or offensive lineman Michael Eletise is the highest-rated player in Arizona's class.

Tate is 204th in the 247Sports Composite rankings, and Eletise is 209th.* * *

10:33 a.m.

Definitely wanted to share this from CDO grad and former Arizona safety Jared Tevis. Smart words from a guy who walked-on and truly earned his scholarship:

10:25 a.m.

Arizona announces signing of safety Jarrius Wallace from Marrero, La. His final two schools were UA and Colorado. 

* * *

 10:08 a.m.

One of my favorite players in Arizona's class -- for no other reason that I like short, shifty running backs -- is J.J. Taylor from Corona (Calif.) Centennial High School. He has faxed his letter-of-intent.

He's only 5-foot-6, but he was a dominant force in the L.A. area this season, rushing for 2,290 yards and 44 touchdowns. In four playoff games, he scored 16 touchdowns and rushed for 801 yards.

He was chosen the state's top senior football player by CalHi Sports.

Rich Rodriguez likes his quick, slippery running backs, and Taylor fits that mold. Check this out from this summer:

A video posted by Matt Moreno (@mattgoazcats) on

* * *

9:52 a.m.

Jalen Cochran, a three-star linebacker from Canton, Mich., has committed to Arizona.

He visited campus last weekend and then picked up an offer from Michigan State on Monday. The Spartans came in too late, however, and Cochran ended up choosing the Wildcats over Miami of Ohio.

He's 6-foot-4, 225 pounds and is ranked as the 10th-best prospect in Michigan by the Detroit Free Press. He is rated as the No. 32 outside linebacker by Scout.com and is the No. 34 weak-side defensive end by Rivals.com.

This is the kind of good news the Wildcats were hoping for on Signing Day.

"Jalen Cochran is a guy we've been tracking for quite some time. But things got heated up more the past couple weeks," Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez said.

"He's done a great job academically over the last year or so, and he's kind of the guy everyone is looking for -- a 6-4, 225-pound linebacker who can rush the passer and do a lot of things. A very, very good athlete. To get him out of Michigan -- a lot of people jumped on him late -- is a pretty good coup for us."

* * *

9:45 a.m.

Arizona target Josiah Sa'o, a defensive tackle from San Diego, has picked Vanderbilt.

* * *

9:35 a.m.

With new defensive coordinator Marcel Yates, Arizona is expected to retain a base defense with five defensive backs, including a safety that plays in the tackle box -- just like the "Spur" safety from the scheme of former coordinator Jahmile Addae.

One possibility is senior-to-be Paul Magloire, who was converted to linebacker last season when a rash of injuries hit that position. Arizona has at least a few safety-type athletes in this recruiting class.

"We're looking for more of a thumper, a bigger body-type there," new safeties coach Jahmile Addae said of the box safety.

"And then we've got our deep safeties, which are more true safeties, have to be able to cover, be able to play deep third, deep half, cover space, have some range."

* * *

9:20 a.m.

Arizona announces the signing of Kahi Neves, a linebacker who was originally committed to Utah as a quarterback. The Wildcats have four linebackers (as of right now) in this class: Cal grad transfer Michael Barton, Neves, Jacob Colacion and Francisco Nelson, who flipped recently from Florida Atlantic, where he projected as a defensive end.

* * *

8:58 a.m.

Linebacker Jacob Colacion, a three-star linebacker from La Habra, Calif., has sent in his letter-of-intent. Colacion likely would have projected as one of the best candidates for early playing time, but a torn ACL suffered during his senior season makes that a more murky proposition.

* * *

8:42 a.m.

Arizona announces signing of three-star defensive tackle Justin Holt from Salpointe Catholic and three-star safety Gavin Robertson from Auburn, Wash. Robertson is part of a group of safeties in this class that are long and athletic. 

* * *

8:38 a.m.

Arizona redshirted three offensive linemen last season -- Cody Creason, Nathan Eldridge and Alex Kosinski -- and then added two more true grayshirts at the semester break.

They are Keenan Walker (a former four-star prospect who was rated one of the best offensive linemen in the West in the 2015 class) and Harper Sherman from New Westminster, B.C., Canada.

One of Arizona's undeniable headliners in this class is four-star OL Michael Eletise from Honolulu. Arizona also signed three-star OL Bryson Cain, an "underrated" prospect, according to Arizona director of on-campus recruiting, Matt Dudek.

Add those guys to sophomores-to-be Layth Friekh (who became the starting left tackle during last season) and Levi Walton, and the Wildcats' young offensive linemen appear to be a team strength.

Walker delayed his enrollment because of a torn ACL, suffered during a postseason all-star game.

"To give him the best start, as a coach to be able to spend the most time with him when he first gets here, it's much better for him to come in here mid-year, in January, than during the season when everything is about winning the game," Arizona offensive line coach Jim Michalczik.

Michalczik said Sherman has "big upside" whose body can still develop.

In addition to all the youth, Arizona has returning starting junior Jacob Alsadek and promising junior Gerhard de Beer, who arrived at Arizona from South Africa on a track and field scholarship and didn't know how to put on his pads when he walked-on to the football team.

After experiments at tight end, defensive line and even punter, de Beer ended up on the offensive line and in the starting lineup at guard for the final four games of last season.

"A tribute to him," Michalczik said.

"I still remember, coach (Charlie) Ragle had him as a tight end and he told him to go block the corner. So he ran to the corner of the end zone and just stood there. There was a big learning process with him. Everything was new."

Michalczik said de Beer -- the reigning Pac-12 discus champion -- arrived at about 245 pounds. He's now 315.

"He's solid. He's not fat," Michalczik said.

* * *

8:15 a.m.

Arizona's first announced signee is Tristan Cooper, a two-star prospect from El Paso. He is listed as an "athlete" by some recruiting services, but UA pegs him as a safety.

* * *

8 a.m.

Here's a somewhat related Signing Day story. Arizona is making the construction of an indoor practice facility a priority. Athletic director Greg Byrne discusses with TucsonNewsNow.com.

* * *

Arizona commit Justin Holt, a defensive tackle from Salpointe Catholic:

* * *

7:30 a.m. -- Arizona starts the day ranked 51st nationally by 247Sports, 54th by Scout.com and 55th by Rivals.com.

* * *

It's Signing Day -- like Christmas for those who recruitniks who hang on every morsel of news from high school football players.

The Arizona Wildcats head into the day with plenty of unfinished business, and we'll keep you updated throughout the day at this link with news, quotes and the latest from social media.

Starting at 8 a.m., you can watch UA's live stream with announcements and other entertainment, hosted by Matt Dudek, the program's director of on-campus recruiting and player personnel.

Keep checking back and refreshing this page for updates ...

* * *

Here's a refresher going into the day:

-- The Wildcats have four "grayshirts" -- players who signed last February but delayed enrollment until the spring: DB Antonio Parks, TE Jamie Nunley, OL Keenan Walker and OL Harper Sherman.

-- Three committed high school players from the 2016 class enrolled early -- four-star QB Khalil Tate (who you are likely to hear a lot about today), LB Kahi Neves and CB Isaiah Hayes.

-- Arizona picked up two commitments on Tuesday, from two-star receiver Shawn Poindexter from Glendale Community College and three-star defensive end Josh Allen from Long Beach City College. Poindexter's intrigue comes from the fact he's 6-foot-6 (or 6-foot-7, depending on what site you look at). Allen could be one of the more impactful players from the class at a position of need.

-- Three-star linebacker Jalen Cochran, who picked up an offer from Michigan State on Monday after an official visit to Arizona, isn't considering the Spartans. Cochran, from Canton, Mich., will pick today between Arizona and Miami of Ohio.

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For more coverage of the Arizona Wildcats, follow Anthony Gimino on Facebook and Twitter.

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