In an interview shortly after accepting the head coaching job at Pima Community College, ex-Canyon del Oro coach Pat Nugent said he wanted Tucson to “get involved with, and excited about, Pima football.”
If the amount of Northwest recruits streaming to Pima is any indication, local prep athletes and coaches are already there.
Twenty-two players signed letters of intent to play at Pima last Wednesday, eight of them from programs on the Northwest side.
Without the support of local coaches, it would have been a hard sell to recruit athletes to a program that has gone 1-39 over the last four years. Ironwood Ridge head coach Gary Minor, whose team sent five players to the Aztecs, believes Nugent may have found the right path for Pima.
“He’s a good coach and obviously is putting the effort in to get the top players here in the Tucson area to play for him, which in my opinion, is as it should be,” said Minor. “The previous coach did none of this and it showed as a product on the field.”
The new Pima product may look very different from previous seasons. From Minor’s semifinalist Nighthawks, the Aztecs signed many of the team’s standouts – wide receiver Scott Campbell, offensive tackle/defensive lineman Marcus Klune, center/defensive tackle Marvin Snodgrass, offensive lineman/defensive end Zach Booker, and cornerback Nick Carlson.
“I’m extremely proud of these kids,” said Minor. “I guess it’s the equivalent of seeing your own kids working and growing, accomplishing something and getting rewarded for it.”
Following Nugent from Canyon Del Oro will be that school’s touchdown record holder, running back Griffin Ronstadt, as well as last season’s quarterback, Doug Steele. Daniel Nicholas, a 2008 CDO grad and the quarterback of that season’s state semifinalist team, also signed on with the Aztecs.
If two Northwest quarterbacks aren’t enough, how about a third? Mountain View’s CJ Evenson also committed to Pima last Wednesday.
“I think (Evenson) just liked (Nugent) a lot,” said Mountain View head coach Paul Schmidt. “(Nugent) just made him feel comfortable when he came out to Mountain View.”
Schmidt believes Nugent is on the right track.
“He’s a very sincere guy, a players’ coach, and he has a good product on the field,” said Schmidt.
Local coaches without any players committed to Pima feel the same way. Pusch Ridge head coach Bob Vance believes Nugent’s attractiveness to local talent goes beyond X’s and O’s.
“In my dealings with him, I have found him to be a stand-up guy,” said Vance. “You meet Pat, you immediately like him – that will be a big help with the recruiting part of college football.”
Although Nugent’s Aztecs have yet to take a snap, it seems the ex-CDO coach will have the support of local coaches for at least a while.
“He works hard, loves football and loves kids,” said Vance. “What more could you want?”