TUCSON, Ariz. – Arizona has named their recruiting class for the 2015 cycle, with thirty student-athletes joining the Wildcats as minicamp convened last week. The deep class of players covers numerous positions, with nine states represented to go along with three foreign countries in this year’s group.
In the Forwards, the front row sees several additions, with three-time High School All American Steven Branham (Fallbrook HS- CA) at Hooker following a season in which he not only served as team captain for Fallbrook High School, but also was selected to the 2015 Collegiate Stars & Stripes Camp with the USA Under-20s and named by Goff Rugby Report as the High School Most Valuable Player nationwide. Branham also represented Eagle Impact Rugby Academy (EIRA) Sevens in Victoria this past year, and was named to the 2014 Cuatros Naciones All Tournament team on the HSAA Tour to Argentina last year.
Branham is joined in the front row by a number of key players, including but not limited to Fallbrook teammate and Prop Matthew May and Prop Kurt Vecchio, younger brother of former Prop James Vecchio. Rounding out the front row group are Prop Drew Tonda, one of three Granite Bay Grizzlies to join the Wildcats, and Prop Conor Ryan (Gonzaga HS-DC). Tonda and Ryan join the Wildcats off the back of highly successful seasons, having helped their teams to top finishes in the 2015 National Invitational Tournament. Tonda’s Grizzlies finished as runner-up in the Club Bracket while Ryan’s Eagles won their second straight title in the High School Bracket.
The Wildcats are thrilled to welcome Lock/Number Eight Bobby Butchofsky to the fold, who joins Arizona from Texas following a year in which he captained both his club and all-state, sides in their respective competitions. Butchofsky’s teams had great success this year, with his efforts helping Westlake High School to the Texas State Title in 2015. He folowed up this success by captaining the Stripes side in the 2015 USA Rugby Stars & Stripes game.
The Backrow sees five prospects join the Wildcats, with diverse backgrounds blending together in a well-rounded, exciting group of talented student-athletes led by All-American Ian Crilly (Fallbrook HS-CA) and Japan U18 nominee Tyler Hansen (Tamagawa Academy).
In the backline, the halfbacks are key spot of recruitment once again, with Flyhalf Brian Hannon joining the Wildcats after three national championships with Royal Irish (IN), the last of which he served as team captain. Hannon also competed in the 2014 Youth Olympics in China with fellow Indiana product and current Wildcat Tyler Sousley, and was named by Goff Rugby Report as the Best Overall Back of the 2015 season. The 2015 class also brings with it Scrumhalf Matt Rogers, younger brother of current Wildcat Kyle and one of three Granite Bay Grizzlies joining the side this Fall.
The rest of the class has many backline players with pace and potential, with Center Joe Deterding and Wing Lou MacLaughlin coming to Tucson following a national runner-up finish in the 2015 NIT with Jesuit HS (CA). Wing Jeremy Fleet and Fullback Adam Wilson round out the three-man San Diego Mustang contigent, with Fullbacks Jack San Pietro (Xavier HS) and Casey Smith (Penn HS) also joining the Wildcats following highly successful years with powerhouse high school programs in New York and Indiana, respectively.
Head Coach Sean Duffy pointed to the diverse group of players as a great sign of growth for the program and the university, which will also welcome in walk-on players this week as they inch towards nearly 75 players in the program. “Our goal was 50 players over the first two years of recruitment to go with a steady flow of players who pick the game up when arriving on campus” said Coach Duffy. “With buy-in from our current players, our facilities, and most importantly our on-field success, these 30 student-athletes have bought in as well and the group has the chance to be special. Potential doesn’t equal performance so while we’re excited for this group, they know there are expectations that come with wearing that “A” on your chest and I’m confident they’re all up to the task.”
2015 Recruit List
Branham, Steven- Hooker- Fallbrook HS (CA)
Butchofsky, Bobby- Lock/Number Eight- Westlake HS (TX)
Carlier, Aidan- Flyhalf- Fox Chapel HS (PA)
Crilly, Ian- Flanker- Fallbrook HS (CA)
Deterding, Joe- Center- Jesuit HS (CA)
Farley, Michael- Prop- Baruch College/Xavier HS (NY)
Finney, Jared- Scrumhalf- Lamorinda Rugby Club (CA)
Fitzpatrick, Ryan- Flanker- Xavier HS (NY)
Fleet, Jeremy- Wing- Torrey Pines HS/San Diego Mustangs (CA)
Gibbs, George- Flyhalf- Millfield School (UK)
Gruendl, Cole- Flyhalf- Piedmont HS (CA)
Hall, Logan- Center- Bellarmine Prep (CA)
Hannon, Brian- Flyhalf- Royal Irish Rugby Club (IN)
Hansen, Tyler- Number Eight- Tamagawa Academy (JPN)
Harris, Carter- Number Eight- Flagstaff Rugby Club (AZ)
Huntsman, Chaz- Number Eight- Moon HS (PA)
MacLaughlin, Lou- Wing- Jesuit HS (CA)
May, Matthew- Prop- Fallbrook HS (CA)
Parks, Mason- Hooker- La Costa Canyon HS/Coastal Dragons (CA)
Platt, Charlie- Lock- Xavier HS (NY)
Rauen, Liam- Scrumhalf- Montini Catholic HS (IL)
Rogers, Matt- Scrumhalf- Granite Bay Rugby Club (CA)
Ryan, Conor- Prop- Gonzaga College HS (DC)
San Pietro, Jack- Fullback- Xavier HS (NY)
Smith, Casey- Fullback- Penn HS (PA)
Taylor, Nicholas- Wing- Edina Rugby Club (MN)
Tonda, Drew- Prop- Granite Bay Rugby Club (CA)
Vecchio, Kurt- Prop- Cathedral HS/San Diego Mustangs (CA)
Walker, Garrett- Center- Granite Bay Rugby Club (CA)
Wilson, Adam- Fullback- Cathedral HS/San Diego Mustangs (CA)