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Stoops signs 18 recruits


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JACOB KONST/Arizona Daily Wildcat
UA head football coach Mike Stoops announces during yesterday's press conference that all 17 recruits have signed to play for the UA during the 2005-2006 football season.
By Charles Renning
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, February 3, 2005
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NATIONAL LETTER OF INTENT SIGNING DAY

Like a child on Christmas Eve, Arizona head coach Mike Stoops couldn't sleep.

Stoops' Christmas came Tuesday, and he wasn't waiting for gifts. He was waiting for official commitments from recruits.

The Arizona football program signed 18 players to national letters of intent yesterday, putting together the nation's No. 11 recruiting class, according to Scouts.com, a recruiting web site.

"It feels like Christmas to me," Stoops said. "There's no better feeling than to coach great football players."

"I haven't slept in three days," Stoops said of his anticipation of this year's class.

The 18 players who signed yesterday will add to the six who enrolled at the UA following winter break. Together, they give the Wildcats an extremely diverse 2005 class.

"There's a lot of versatility in this group. The completeness of this class is pretty special," Stoops said. "To virtually hit every position is something you don't often do."

Arizona picked up six offensive linemen, three defensive linemen, two running backs, two defensive backs, two linebackers and one receiver, quarterback and tight end.

Arizona received commitments from athletes of seven states: six from California, nine from Texas, five from Arizona and one each from Kansas, Hawaii, Washington and Oklahoma.

"If you look at it top to bottom, it's a pretty special group in a lot of ways," Stoops said.

The highest anticipated recruit of the class was quarterback Willie Tuitama of Stockton, Calif. Tuitama was ranked the No. 5 quarterback in the nation by rivals.com.

"No. 1, No. 2, No. 3, whatever, it doesn't matter," Stoops said. "All I know is we've got a great one in Willie Tuitama, so you can rate him wherever you want. All I know is he can play football, and he's a winner across the board."

Tuitama threw for 2,734 yards in his senior season while leading St. Mary's High School to California's Division I sectional championship.

Another area Stoops said gained big was the offensive line. The Wildcats landed five offensive linemen, who Stoops said could compare with those of any other school's recruiting class.

"It will rank up there with Iowa, Michigan and Arizona," Stoops said. "That's something we desperately needed. That's by far and away the strongest group as a whole."

Of the six recruits coming to Tucson, all are taller than 6-foot-3 and weigh more than 280 pounds.

"They are all very big, physical and athletic," Stoops said. "It's a fantastic group."

Local Tucson product Daniel Borg, who played at Ironwood Ridge High School, highlights the new linemen. He was selected as the Arizona Gatorade State Player of the Year.

Borg joins fellow Tucson prepster Xavier Smith, a runningback at Sunnyside.

Arizona also got commitments from two other in-state products, Peoria's Terry Longbons and Jordan Lowe.

Stoops said he was pleased with the program's in-state recruiting and that it will be imperative for the Wildcats to get the best players in Arizona.

Stoops said he was impressed that a majority of the athletes who gave verbal commitments held up to their word. The Wildcats even added a player - linebacker Adrian McCovey of Lakewood, Calif. - who was undecided the day before signing day.

"I believe this program is just scratching the surface of where it can go," said Stoops. "It's a great day for Arizona football."



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