Arizona received a commitment on Thursday from 2024 five-star EDGE Elijah Rushing, marking arguably the biggest recruiting win in program history. Rushing, who is ranked No. 8 in the 247Sports rankings, is the first five star the Wildcats have landed in the star system era. It bumps up the program from 50th to 41st in the 2024 247Sports class rankings.
Rushing plays high school football at Salpointe Catholic in Tucson, Ariz., which is located just five miles from the University of Arizona campus. The Wildcats beat out Notre Dame, Oregon and Tennessee, among others, for his services. Elijah's brother, Cruz, is also a member of the Wildcats after transferring from Florida.
"It [being close to home] was a big factor, and it was the best situation for me," Rushing told 247Sports. "For me it was important to put us on the map and show who we are."
The Wildcats are ranked third among Pac-12 teams in the 2024 class behind Oregon and Stanford. Arizona finished sixth in the 2023 recruiting cycle among Pac-12 team teams.
The program's highest-ranked commitment before Rushing was four-star WR Tetaiora McMillian, who was ranked 37th overall in the 2022 class. McMillan made an immediate impact as a freshman and racked up 39 catches for 702 yards and eight touchdowns.
Fisch's rebuild paying dividends
The Wildcats program has gone through a full rebuild under head coach Jedd Fisch, who was hired after the 2020 season to rebuild the program. Though the team finished with an abysmal 1-11 record in Fisch's debut, it showed significant improvement last season by going 5-7 and nearly securing a bowl berth for the first time since 2017.
Rushing's commitment signals the rebuild is close to being on the other side of the horizon. Arizona already landed former five-star linebacker Justin Flowe from Oregon and Colorado WR Montana Lemonious-Craig via the transfer portal.
Rushing will have a chance to receive significant playing time as a true freshman. Arizona ranked 125 out of 131 FBS teams in total defense last season, and that unit will need to improve to take the next step. Rushing gives the Wildcats a difference-maker on that side of the ball.
A massive in-state recruiting win
Rushing is the No. 1 edge rusher in the class, and he just so happened to be located in Arizona's backyard. Multiple marquee programs were vying for Rushing, but Arizona was able to beat out some of the elite programs from the Pac-12 and SEC.
Rushing is the highest-ranked player to come out of the state of Arizona since Kelee Ringo, who committed to Georgia from the 2020 cycle and was ranked No. 7 overall in his class. The highest-ranked player before Rushing to commit to the program from the state of Arizona was Mike Bell in 2021.
Arizona isn't going to compete for a Pac-12 title this season, but adding a building block to the program like Rushing for the future is a positive sign for Fisch and the Wildcats program going forward.