UA football scores huge recruiting coup: 5-star Jalen Tabor

<!-- AddThis Sharing Buttons above -->
                <div>
                    <a class="addthis_button" href="//addthis.com/bookmark.php?v=300" addthis:url='http://phxfan.com/2014/01/ua-football-scores-huge-recruiting-coup-jalen-tabor/' addthis:title='UA football scores huge recruiting coup: 5-star Jalen Tabor'>
                        <img src="//cache.addthis.com/cachefly/static/btn/v2/lg-share-en.gif" width="125" height="16" alt="Bookmark and Share" style="border:0"/>
                    </a>
                </div>  It’s amazing what a couple of bowl wins, back-to-back 8-5 records, and a major addition to the school’s football facilities will do for recruiting.  For the University of Arizona, […]<!-- AddThis Sharing Buttons below -->
                <div>
                    <a class="addthis_button" href="//addthis.com/bookmark.php?v=300" addthis:url='http://phxfan.com/2014/01/ua-football-scores-huge-recruiting-coup-jalen-tabor/' addthis:title='UA football scores huge recruiting coup: 5-star Jalen Tabor'>
                        <img src="//cache.addthis.com/cachefly/static/btn/v2/lg-share-en.gif" width="125" height="16" alt="Bookmark and Share" style="border:0"/>
                    </a>
                </div>

 

It’s amazing what a couple of bowl wins, back-to-back 8-5 records, and a major addition to the school’s football facilities will do for recruiting.  For the University of Arizona, all that has translated into what some are calling the biggest recruiting coup in the history of the Wildcat football program.

Jalen Tabor is a five-star prospect that shocked the college football world by picking Arizona over schools like Alabama and Florida.  Tabor, a 6’1″ 182 lb. cornerback at Friendship Collegiate Academy in Washington, DC, was expected for a long time to play at home in nearby Maryland.  The Gators were added to his short list, followed by Alabama and Arizona.

And this week, after that list was narrowed down to last year’s national champion Alabama and Arizona, he picked the Wildcats.

(*Update 1/9/13:  Blink and he’s gone!  A major recruiting coup has just tuned into a major embarrassment.  Daniel Berk, writing for the Arizona Daily Star, reported this morning that Jalen Tabor has de-committed from the Arizona program and will now be heading to the University of Florida to play for the Gators.  His mother apparently confirmed her son’s decision to switch to Florida and Tabor’s friend and high school teammate,  Jonathan Haden, who had already committed to Arizona, followed with a tweet wishing his friend well.)

And the best part of his surprise decision, at least as far as Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez is concerned, was Tabor’s decision to make his announcement on national television.  The youngster signaled his choice to play in Tucson by putting on a Wildcat cap and naming his new school during Thursday’s Under Armour All-America Game, which was being televised to the nation by ESPN.

That kind of publicity will go a long way toward encouraging more recruits to take a closer look at the Arizona program.

And once the football staff gets them on campus, they now have the brand-spanking new $72.3 million Lowell-Stevens Football Facility to help level the playing field against the other top-tier Division I programs.  The facility, completed just last summer, includes a new weight room, locker room, medical treatment center, equipment room, coaches offices, and meeting rooms.

Athletic Director Grey Byrne pointed out in a recent interview that the addition will have a “significant impact” on the football program.  “We were probably the last BCS-level program that had their football operation in their basketball arena,” he noted.  “Most moved out 20 years ago, so we were a little behind the times.”

But the new facilities were apparently just part of the lure to the desert.

Tabor, who got his first scholarship offer during his freshman year and had his choice of schools, also spoke of the “family atmosphere” he found during his November visit to the campus.  In addition, his teammate at Friendship Academy, 3-star running back Jonathan Haden, has also committed to play for the Cats.

With this acquisition, Arizona will have an athletic defensive back with the size necessary to go one-on-one with big receivers and is expected to make an impact as soon as he hits campus.  “I feel I can go in and provide a spark right away,” he told ESPN.

Tabor is rated as the 15th-best recruit in the nation by ESPN.com and is ranked 24th nationally by Rivals.com and is clearly the gem of Rodriguez’s 28-member recruiting class for 2014.  He is reportedly the first 5-star recruit in program history.

The group also includes four 4-star prospects and a handful of junior college recruits that are rated 3-star, leading 247sports.com to rate the class 16th in the nation.

And that makes Tabor’s commitment all the sweeter.  Arizona just passed their rival to the north, Arizona State, whose class is ranked 21st on that list.

(Photo: Steve Dykes, USA Today)