It's a trend that was supposed to be stopped last year, but apparently the effect of some big names staying in Arizona was not as impactful as once hoped.
At least not for the Class of 2013 as most of the state's top talent signed elsewhere on Wednesday, the first day football players are eligible to sign their National Letters of Intent.
And this group plans on doing their best to make sure it continues.
"We are getting in their ear right now," Centennial (Peoria)
running back Jalen Ortiz
said of the Class of 2014. "It's about building what we already have even bigger."
Ortiz signed with UCLA as did two others — Mountain Pointe's (Phoenix) Kenny Lacy
and most likely Marcos de Niza (Tempe) Priest Willis
— to follow Arizona's Brett Hundley (Chandler), Kody Innes (Saguaro) and Paul Perkins (Chandler) as recent recruits heading to Westwood.
Willis' mother was out of town on business and he won't officially sign until she returns later in the week, but he maintains he will still be a Bruin.
"She wants what makes me happy," Willis told the Arizona Republic. "Not anyone else. Not what makes her happy. Not what makes my dad happy. She just wants to make sure I'm happy."
It didn't stop with UCLA as Oregon got two — Devon Allen
(Brophy College Prep
) and Kani Benoit
) — while Notre Dame (Hamilton's Cole Luke
), Washington (Centennial's Marcus Farria
), Washington State (Brophy's Tyler Bruggman
) and Boise State (Paradise Valley's Ryan Finley
and Chaparral's Jake Roh
) were able to coax some of the state's top talent out of state.
Arizona State made a late push at Bruggman, the state's highest rated quarterback, after the Sun Devils lost out on Joshua Dobbs, of Georgia, who flipped to Tennessee in the last few days, but Bruggman stuck with WSU.
"It was a real tough decision," Bruggman told the Republic. "Two great programs. People there are fantastic. Great coaches and great people who stand for all the right things. It was real tough on me seven months ago and it was real stressful today."
Arizona State did land Chans Cox
of Blue Ridge (Lakeside)
, Notre Dame Prep's (Scottsdale) Grant Martinez
and Chandler's Kisima Jagne
, while Arizona was able to keep Basha's (Chandler) Nate Phillips
, Marcos de Niza's Mauriece Lee
and Buckeye's DeAndre Miller
But for the most part the top talent snubbed Arizona State's Todd Graham and Arizona's Rich Rodriguez, both of whom are starting their second year.
The real trend has seen the Bruins start a pretty impressive pipeline from Arizona to UCLA. It helps when the team's starting quarterback – Hundley – is the biggest recruiter of them all.
"Brett was there for me on my official and unofficial," Ortiz said. "He knows what it is like to be there and he sets the tone and you know it is where you need to be, too."
Lacy, who had official visits to Arkansas, Arizona State and Nebraska, said he will do his best to get more Arizona talent, including Mountain Pointe teammates Jalen Brown
and Natrel Curtis
, out to the West Coast.
"It's not going to stop either," Lacy said of the trend. "It's a strong tie. We are going to work on these young fellas. I felt all along that this it is where I belonged. We are going to compete for a Pac-12 title. It's California and it is a great education. To be honest, UCLA sells itself. Once you are there you know it is where you need to be."Jason P. Skoda, a former Arizona Republic and current Ahwatukee Foothills News staff writer, is a 18-year sports writing veteran. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 480-272-2449.