Commentary

Arizona/New Mexico loaded on the line

Originally Published: September 10, 2010
By Tom Luginbill | ESPN Recruiting

The states of Arizona and New Mexico may not be known for generating elite talent year in and year out, but Arizona has had a recent trend of producing big-time line prospects. Ten of the state's top 15 prospects are on the offensive or defensive line, including the No. 1-ranked offensive tackle in the 2011 class, Christian Westerman (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton), OG Cyrus Hobbi (Scottsdale, Ariz./Saguaro), OT Andre Yruretagoyena (Scottsdale, Ariz./Chaparral) and DT Todd Peat (Chandler, Ariz./Corona Del Sol).

Plus, two of the top five prospects from New Mexico are linemen, including the No. 4-ranked offensive tackle in 2011, Matthew Hegarty (Aztec, N.M./Aztec). He is currently committed to Notre Dame and possesses one of the meanest, nastiest demeanors of any lineman in this class.

The state of Arizona also lays claim to recent UCLA commit QB Brett Hundley (Chandler, Ariz./Chandler). He is an excellent dual-threat quarterback with size, strength and upside. However, it does not bode well for Arizona State and Arizona when the top in-state quarterback prospect in recent years chooses to leave the state, but stay in the Pac-10 at a rival school.

Top prospect

OT Christian Westerman
Westerman is one of the best technicians in the 2011 class as a tackle prospect. He has terrific size, overall measurables and is every bit as effective a pass protector as he is a run-blocker. Capable of manhandling defenders at the point of attack in the run game, Westerman is a mauler of sorts. However, don't mistake his style for a lack of athleticism because he is a very good athlete with knee bend and the ability to redirect, adjust to second-level movement and keep a consistent low pad level given his height. There may be other tackle prospects in this class who are better pure athletes than Westerman, but they are not quite as far along on the little nuances of the position.

Remember this name

QB Dustin Walton (Raton, N.M./Raton)
He is trying to follow in the footsteps of Oklahoma QB Landry Jones from the 2008 class. Walton started to pick up some recruiting steam this past spring and summer on the camp circuit. He is a big, but raw pocket passer with the arm strength to make all the necessary throws. He has a high ceiling for development as a passer fundamentally and possesses the size and tools to succeed at the non-BCS level and depending on the program could be a lower-tier BCS-level prospect.

Taking up residence

Here are the colleges that are doing the best with Arizona and New Mexico prospects this year.

Arizona
Arizona The Wildcats have a defensive approach to recruiting for 2011 as eight of their 14 verbal commitments are on that side of the line of scrimmage, including Arizona native DE Reggie Gilbert (Laveen, Ariz./Betty H.Fairfax). Running back Ka'Deem Cary (Tucson, Ariz./Canyon Del Oro) and guard Jacob Arzouman (Tucson, Ariz./Salpointe Catholic) are two other prospects from Arizona in the Wildcats' class.

Arizona State
Arizona State The Sun Devils have not gotten off to a fast start with their 2011 class (six commits) and their on-field performance this fall could have a dramatic effect on how they finish. Wide receiver Gary Chambers (Glendale, Ariz./Ironwood) is a quality receiving target, while defensive tackle Matt Ramondo (Las Cruces, N.M./Mayfield) will be a stout presence in the heart of the trenches. Arizona State better close on some of the top available in-state prospects or the natives could get restless.

New Mexico State
New Mexico State Dwayne Walker is improving this program and four of his six commits are from Arizona or New Mexico -- ATH Joseph Matthews (Tucson, Ariz./Rincon), RB Brandon Betancourt (Las Cruces, N.M./Mayfield Senior), ATH Matthew Jaramillo (Albuquerque, N.M./West Mesa) and OT Anthony Kennedy (Albuquerque, N.M./Volcano Vista).

Tom Luginbill is ESPN's national director of football recruiting.