Head football coaches at the college level have to keep a lot of balls in the air. Right now, they’re very focused on a new season that will start in just a few weeks. They have to keep one eye on 2010, but not lose sight of the recruiting needs in 2011 and 2012.
That’s why assistant coaches are so critical to the success of a program. They carry a heavy load in the recruiting process.
Greg Brown, the co-defensive coordinator at University of Arizona, and Grady Stretz, Arizona State’s defensive line coach, just helped the cause with a couple of commitments to the 2011 class at both schools.
Ezekiel Bishop, a three-star prospect out of East High School in Denver, Colo., committed last week to ASU. The 5’10″‘, 180 lb. senior plays a variety of positions at East, including linebacker on defense and running back and fullback on offense. He’s expected to work into a linebacker slot when he gets to Tucson next year.
Bishop made the decision to attend UofA in large part because of the relationship he had forged with Brown while the coach was on the staff at the University of Colorado. He had an offer from Colorado, but decided to follow Brown to the desert instead.
ASU’s Stretz built a rapport with Matt Ramondo when the 6’5″, 300 lb. defensive tackle began looking seriously at the opportunity in Tempe.
Ramondo is playing at Mayfield High School in Las Cruces, N.M., and had offers from both New Mexico State and the University of New Mexico. He was leaning toward NMSU, but decided he wanted to play for Stretz and the other coaches on ASU’s staff, and made the commit just a couple days after the Cats snagged Bishop from Denver.
Since he is the only defensive tackle in the recruiting class, he also probably liked his chances to play sooner rather than later.
Arizona also picked up a 230 lb. defensive end in their own backyard. Reggie Gilbert, a three-star recruit from Laveen committed in the middle of the month after taking a second unofficial visit to the Tucson campus. His junior year at Fairfax High School drew a lot of attention, enough for nine scholarship offers, when he recorded 58 tackles and 13 sacks.
But the big catch came on the same day that Ezekiel Bishop committed to Arizona. The Cats also picked up a four-star recruit out of Texas who is ranked by Rivals.com as the ninth-best inside linebacker in the country.
Rob Hankins will be a senior at Parish Episcopal High School in Dallas. His exploits in just three years there earned him 21 scholarship offers. Arizona was on a short list that included Miami, Texas A&M, and California.
Last year, Hankins had 136 tackles and 12 sacks and his style, he says, has earned him comparisons to Tedy Bruschi, the popular All-American defensive end during his college career at Arizona. Bruschi became the NCAA leader in sacks and went on to play as a linebacker for the New England Patriots, helping them to five Super Bowls during his 13 years there.
So, has Arizona found another Bruschi? Only time will tell.