The future of football at UofA is rapidly taking shape

Things are still percolating down in Tucson, as football players come and go at the University of Arizona.

With the 2010 recruiting class well in hand, head coach Mike Stoops and his staff have been busy working on the future.  The Wildcats 2011 class seems to be picking up bodies on a weekly basis and looks like it may well be one of the best of the Stoops era, which began in 2004 when he came from his position as associate head coach at Oklahoma to try to resurrect a moribund Wildcats program.

But the current roster took a hit over the weekend when Stoops was forced to hand down an indefinite suspension to Delashaun Dean that is expected to become pretty permanent.

Dean was arrested Saturday and charged by Tucson Police with one count of misconduct involving a weapon.  The part about the weapon makes it a serious enough incident to warrant dismissal.

If Dean is indeed done, it will leave a hole in the offense that could be significant.  The 6’4″ senior receiver pulled down 42 passes for 396 yards last season, despite dealing with injuries throughout the year, and was expected to play a major role this year.

The Wildcats, of course, have other receivers, like junior Dave Roberts who had 43 receptions last year.  But lining up behind Dean on the offensive depth chart is senior Travis Cobb, who started zero games last year.

The news of Dean’s brush with the law was part of the roller coaster ride the Cats have been on lately.  Just two days later, on Monday, Stoops got a verbal commitment from a young man who will bring some star power to the 2011 recruiting class.

Rob Hankins is a 6’1″, 219 lb. linebacker from the recruiting hotbed of Texas, where he becomes one of the Wildcats’ highest-rated players recruited from that state.  Stoops has enjoyed good picking in the Lone Star State, but this one is at the top of  the field.

Hankins is rated by most services as the ninth-best in the nation at his position and was heavily recruited by some 20 colleges, including big names like Notre Dame, Nebraska, and Miami.  He had narrowed his list to Arizona, Miami, California, and Texas A&M before settling on the Wildcats.

The senior at Parish Episcopal High School in Dallas has the physical assets  already to compete at the college level and should be able to step in as a starter beginning with the first game of the 2011 season.

The 17-year-old has been clocked at 4.5 in the 40 and bench presses 410 lbs.  Last season, he racked up 125 tackles and 12 sacks.

Hankins joins three others who have verbally committed in just the last couple of weeks, to build a solid 2011 class.  Perhaps the biggest is a huge local catch, Ka’Deem Carey.  Carey is from nearby Canyon del Oro HS and considered the top running back in the state, and one of the best in the country.  He piled up 2,738 yards last year as a junior, averaging 12 yards per carry.

The other two were Jared Baker, a running back from Loyola HS in California (see 6-14 article: UA football gets a game-breaker in Ka’Deem Carey) with a huge upside, and Tra’Mayne Bondurant, a cornerback from California.

The UofA football program is finally beginning to turn around under Stoops, coming off consecutive eight-win seasons.  The impetus he’s enjoying in recruiting right now is a result of that success.  The 2011 class is filling up faster than any other in recent memory.

And that should put the other Pac-10 teams on notice.  The Wildcats are moving on up.