The recruiting wars for local high school football players surged a little this week after a raid by University of Arizona into the back yard of Arizona State head coach, Todd Graham.
Graham countered with one of the biggest local catches in recent times – and then threw in a quarterback from Georgia for good measure.
Wildcat boss, Rich Rodriguez, bagged a couple of commitments from Phoenix-area players as the week started when Nate Phillips and Paul Elvira notified the first-year head coach that they had settled on Arizona for their college careers.
Both will be seniors, Phillips at Basha High in Chandler and Elvira at Marcos de Niza High in Tempe. And both are wide receivers, the first pass-catchers to be added to the UofA class of 2013.
The 5’10” Phillips caught 72 passes last season for 1,265 yards. Elvira, a little bigger at 6-foot and 180 pounds, pulled in 49 completions for 800 yards and 12 touchdowns. Neither player is ranked yet by the major recruiting services.
A couple of days after RichRod announced his pair of local additions, Graham topped both by getting a commitment from Chans Cox, who will close out his prep career next season at Blue Ridge High School in Lakeside.
And Cox has already been ranked by the recruiting services – big time. The 6’3″, 235 lb. fullback is ranked by Rivals.com as Arizona’s No. 1 recruit in the 2013 class, and No. 58 nationally.
When he committed to ASU on an unofficial visit to campus last Wednesday, it meant turning down offers from football powers such as Notre Dame, Nebraska, Oklahoma, USC, Boise State, Arkansas, and others. His list had been narrowed down to the Sun Devils and the Fighting Irish.
Cox told the media that his decision came down to several factors, most significantly the fact that picking ASU would let him play at home so his family could attend games, and he also wanted to be a part of Graham’s effort to build something special in Tempe. Graham, like Rodriguez, is entering his first season at the helm of the Sun Devil program and will try to post ASU’s first winning season in five years.
Last season was a disappointment for Cox, who is expected to be used at a linebacker position when he gets to ASU, after he missed five games with a shoulder injury. However, he still managed to accumulate almost 700 yards rushing and put 16 scores on the board, while contributing on defense with 61 tackles.
His speed – he has been clocked at 4.53 for the forty – and athleticism are impressive even to the casual observer, and he should put up some big-time stats in his senior season.
And, just to twist the knife a little in Rodriguez’s back, Cox was also offered a scholarship by the Wildcats.
Graham added a little icing to the recruiting cake by also announcing the addition of Josh Dobbs, a 6’3″ signal caller from Alpharetta High School in Georgia who is ranked by ESPN as the nation’s No. 18 dual-threat quarterback. He’s the first QB to commit to Graham.
Dobbs completed 60 percent of his passes as a senior, throwing for 3,113 yards and 29 touchdowns.
And Graham won’t have to worry about this youngster being able to pick up the offense or showing up for practice. An honors student with a 4.0 GPA, Dobbs has had perfect attendance since kindergarten.
But, despite ASU apparently coming out on top this week, Rodriguez and his staff might get some serious extra mileage from their acquisitions.
Elvira, the wide receiver from Marcos de Niza, will be joining his teammate, Mauriece Lee, a running back who committed to play for the Cats back in April. So, with two from the Padres program already on board, Rodriguez has an even better chance of convincing a third member of that team to come to Tucson – Priest Willis, a defensive back that Scout.com ranks as the top prospect in the state.
With two new college head coaches staking out the local turf, the in-state high school recruiting wars in Arizona have certainly become interesting.
Stay tuned, sports fans.
(Photo: ASU Athletics)