All-American linebacker commits to Arizona

Published: Dec. 31, 2015 at 4:44 PM MST|Updated: Mar. 2, 2018 at 4:24 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez, asked back on Nov. 9 about his junior college recruiting efforts -- which have been a mixed bag of success at best -- turned the question into a recruiting pitch.

"If you're a great college pass rusher, or a mike linebacker or a will linebacker, and if you've got good grades and you're a good guy, give Arizona Coach Rod a call, because he's still looking."

On New Year's Eve, he's looking a little bit less.

One of the RichRod's top 2016 targets, first-team NJCAA All-American linebacker Kapri Doucet, committed to Arizona on Thursday morning, giving the Wildcats a needed potential playmaker on defense.

Doucet made 17.5 tackles for loss, including six sacks, in nine games last season for Lackawanna Community College in Scranton, Pa.

He also returned an interception and a fumble for touchdowns.

He took an official visit to Tucson a few weeks ago, and then picked the Wildcats, who were the first Power 5 conference to offer a scholarship. Doucet, who attended Bruton High School in Williamsburg, Va., later received offers from West Virginia, Louisville and Nebraska, among others, but made his commitment before visiting those schools.

The outside linebacker announced on Twitter that "Blessed to say I am 100% committed to the University Of Arizona."

Doucet has two years of eligibility left, plus a redshirt season. He will enroll at Arizona in the summer.

Arizona needs all the immediate help it can get on defense, which allowed 35.8 points and 467.9 yards per game in 2015. Star linebacker Scooby Wright, who missed almost all of the season, left early for the NFL, and a trio of senior starters -- defensive end Reggie Gilbert, Spur safety Will Parks and free safety Jamar Allah are gone.

Beyond the commitment of Doucet, Rodriguez is trying to address the other levels of defense. Arizona has a pledge from safety London Iakopo from Long Beach City College (rated No. 29 among JC recruits nationally by 247Sports) and is pursuing his teammate, defensive end Josh Allen.

Allen de-committed from Arizona in early November, but the coaches stuck with him and he is scheduled for an official visit in January. Also keep an eye on Iakopo, who has plans to visit Louisville in January.

Signing about five junior college transfers per year is about the norm for Arizona, which has brought in 11 in the past two classes.

Of the six from 2014 ...

--Two barely played in two seasons (linebacker Antonio Smothers and offensive lineman Kaige Lawrence)

--One had to give up football because of concussions (defensive lineman Jerod Cody)

--One left during the 2014 season (defensive back Patrick Glover)

--Two landed on the depth chart and as occasional starters (defensive lineman Jeff Worthy and quarterback Jerrard Randall).

Of the five signed last season, only one made an impact -- safety-turned-linebacker Paul Magloire, who finished second on the team with 72 tackles.

Defensive end Timmy Hamilton left the team in the first week of camp, defensive lineman Anthony Fotu showed promise but was suspended twice, including the final seven games. Cornerback Dane Cruikshank and tight end Matt Marin were non-factors.

So, Arizona is batting about 3 of 11 with junior college recruits in the past two classes.

The junior college impact before that is spotty, too, with center Steve Gurrola, quarterback B.J. Denker and still-current safety Tellas Jones among the "hits."

"For us, in particular, it's been a little harder to get some of the guys in school, because some of the credits don't transfer," Rodriguez said last month.

"There have been a few we wanted to have that just didn't match up academically. It's been a little more difficult in that respect. I think sometimes if you go for the JC guy -- and we've gotten a few, and we probably need to get a few more -- it has to be the right fit athletically and academically.

"It's got to be a guy you think can come in and maybe make an impact at a position you're thin at. And we're thin at a couple of places, particularly defensively."

Doucet and Iakopo are a start, the possible impact Arizona needs.

Watch some video highlights of Doucet on

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