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Arizona lands versatile recruiting class

By Brett Erickson
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
February 3, 2000
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At yesterday's unveiling of the Arizona football recruits for the upcoming season, one phrase was repeatedly mentioned by UA head coach Dick Tomey as he sized up the recruiting class: position flexibility.

Many high school players end up playing a different position in college, and Tomey said the 26-man class includes several players who are capable of playing more than one of the 22 starting positions.

"The way I look at it is if you're a one-for-22 player, if you're a player that has one chance out of 22 at playing, no matter how good you are, you're not a very good prospect," Tomey said.

"If you're a player that has 7 chances out of 22, you're a real good prospect because the likelihood is that you're going to find a place to play.

"I think we have a lot of players in this group that have a lot of opportunities in that perspective."

Clarence Farmer, a 6-foot, 200-pound tailback from Booker T. Washington High School in Houston, was one of several players that Tomey mentioned could eventually see playing time at an unfamiliar position.

"Clarence Farmer is as impressive a young man that we've signed here in many a moon," said Tomey, adding that Farmer was praised by his high school teachers. "I think he has tremendous position flexibility.

"He could be a lot of things."

Tomey also praised offensive linemen Reggie Sampay and Chris Johnson, teammates at Northshore High School in Houston, for their mobility on the line.

Sampay, 6 feet 3 inches tall and 270 pounds, was 16 years old during his senior season.

"Of all the offensive linemen we signed, he is the one that has the most position flexibility," Tomey said.

Another offensive lineman, Perry Thompson from Grant High School in Sacramento, Calif., could see playing time on the defensive line.

Other players that could end up at different positions are tailback Anthony Fulcher and quarterback Steve Fleming, both from Scottsdale.

Fleming only played high school football for one year and could develop into a good quarterback for Arizona, Tomey said.

Besides landing several versatile athletes, Tomey and his staff successfully brought in a host of quality players from Texas.

In addition to Farmer, Sampay and Johnson, Arizona received commitments from running back Chris Harris, linebacker Pat Howard and running back Juan Valentine.

Tomey said Valentine may elect to play at a junior college in Texas, though.

Several factors contributed to the team's success in the Lone Star State, where the Wildcats had trouble recruiting in previous years.

"We started in Texas and got our brains beat out," Tomey said.

Arizona gradually landed more recruits as its staff became more familiar with high school coaches across the state.

Tomey gave a lot of the credit to Rob Ianello, the team's recruiting coordinator and wide receivers coach.

"Rob knows which coaches to rely on their judgment, and he knows enough about Texas to know you don't need to go in there and compete against the University of Texas ... and Texas A&M to get good players," Tomey said.

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