2017 RECRUITING CLASS: WILDCATS SIGN EIGHTEEN
Rogers, Bradfield, and Rohde are three key players in the wide-reaching recruiting class for 2017.
Sept 5- Arizona announced their 2017 recruiting class today, with an impressive group of new Wildcats joining the program for the upcoming season. This year’s class features 13 freshmen to go along with five transfers spanning seven states and three foreign countries. The new arrivals have already begun training with their new teammates, with the coaching staff impressed by the players’ abilities and effort thus far. “It’s potentially the deepest class we’ve ever signed, both in their talent but also in their character, and they have all bought in already and are competing on day one.” said Head Coach Sean Duffy.
LOCKED IN FOR 2018
Arizona has made a number of additions at Lock, with four players all 6’3” and up joining the program. Steven Benson joins the Wildcats from Arkansas after an impressive three-sport career in Rugby, Football, and Basketball for Jessieville HS, earning High School All Americans honors the past two seasons. Billy Esposito heads to Tucson as the latest from national powerhouse Xavier HS (NY), helping the Knights to impressive finishes the past two seasons. Austin Strehlow checks in as the tallest of the quartet, as the 6’6” Lock from club power Danville RFC (CA) joins the program along with fellow Californian and transfer Tyler Nichol from Catholic University. “Big bodies, but what makes them special is they’re all really smart both on and off the field” said Duffy.
BACK ROW REINFORCEMENTS
With a run to the final four this past year, the importance of the back row became readily apparent to the coaching staff, and a group of seven join the program in a great influx of talent that should make an impact early. Riley Kerr looks to follow in the footsteps of fellow Australian Jake Hedge in last year’s class and joins the team after a strong career with Sunshine Coast Grammar School in Queensland. Alex Rayton brings great leadership and talent at Flanker, earning HSAA honors this season while helping The Woodlands (TX) to a state title. At openside flanker, Steven Rohde comes to Tucson after a decorated career with Saint Thomas Aquinas HS (KS), while Anders Bergfalk joins the team from club power Granite Bay RFC (CA), the latest in a long line of Grizzlies to join the program. The back row also sees two transfers joining the program, with Sinclair Clinton and Fabian Lumsden arriving from Central Washington University from Australia and the UK, respectively.
BACKLINE BUILDS UP
While still a young team, the Wildcats will need to replace departing players, with Shane Dempsey’s graduation after a strong career leading to the signing of a few versatile athletes in the backline. The Wildcats will bring in one of the top players in the nation this past Spring, with George Niethammer joining from the 2017 national champions Jesuit HS (CA). In the club bracket of nationals, runners-up Fort Hunt (VA) send Center/Flyhalf Robert Figley to Tucson, with the 6’2” 215 pound prospect continuing his fine form with DMV and Atlantis Sevens this summer. Dipping in to Northern California again, the Wildcats will welcome in former Marin (CA) center Kyle Fulton, who has already turned heads with his form in training in addition to Luke Kampton, who arrives in Tucson after the past two seasons with UCLA and Santa Monica City College. Fellow transfer Koto Fujimura joins the Wildcats from Tokyo after two seasons with New England College. “Strong group with a lot of winning in their pasts at their previous stops, and I’ve been impressed so far by them" said Duffy.
BACK THREE THREATS
With a few players set to graduate shortly, the Wildcats moved to bring in some talent on the outside, with Fullback/Wing Jon Rogers the third brother to join the program from the Granite Bay Grizzlies. Arizona moves in to Ohio for the second time in two years as well, with Fullback/Flyhalf Jack Bradfield joining from Saint Edward’s HS following in the footsteps of Flanker Zach Heisterkamp. Both Rogers and Bradfield had sterling seasons for their teams, with both selected for national honors following the Spring.
With the preseason underway, these new arrivals and the returners will have a steady diet of training, matches, and strength work to prepare for the 2018 season in January. With much of last year's roster intact, this year's class will add to what could be another deep run this Spring. "We are very methodical about our recruiting process, and we pride ourselves on transparency and talent evaluation. Every one of these players is fully invested, from the classroom, to the weight room, to the training field, to gameday. Our current players are our best salesmen, and the tremendous experience they're having in our program is our best method of bringing these talented players to Tucson" said Duffy.
The Wildcats' preseason kicks off this weekend as Arizona Second XV travels to Albuquerque to take on New Mexico.
2017 Recruiting Class & Transfers (click for player bio)