TUCSON (AP) - With several commitments wavering or already gone and a few key targets still undecided, Arizona coach Mike Stoops wasn't sure what his 2011 recruiting was going to look like, even a few days ago.
With a closing flourish, capped by running back Ka'Deem Carey's decision to stay in Tucson, Stoops and his staff wound up with a halfway-decent class. Maybe not up there with Southern California, Oregon and surprisingly strong California, but solid enough to keep the Wildcats up with the rest of the about-to-become Pac-12 pack.
"It's been kind of a crazy couple days here at the end, waiting on the last couple of players," Stoops said Wednesday, national signing day for college football. "So, really pleased the way it finished for us. Things were starting to unravel a little bit, and we were able to pull it together and close with a flurry of players here in the last weekend and last 24 hours."
In all, Arizona locked up 17 new recruits to go with the five who have already enrolled in spring classes in Tucson.
The big catch was Carey, who put a big scare into the Wildcats.
Rated by numerous recruiting services as one of the best running backs in the country - certainly in Arizona - Carey committed to Arizona in June, only to start talking with rival Arizona State.
The 5-foot-10, 190-pounder from nearby Canyon del Oro High School kept the Wildcats in the dark until nearly the last possible moment, announcing his decision to play at Arizona at a news conference around noon.
Limited by injuries as a senior, Carey ran for over 2,700 yards as a junior, including 299 and four touchdowns in a 44-0 win that ended Scottsdale Saguaro's state Class 4A-record winning streak at 37 games. Rated as the 13th-best running back prospect by Rivals.com, Carey and fellow signee Jared Baker, of Loyola High School in Los Angeles, give the Wildcats a pair of potential game-breakers behind Keola Antolin and Greg Nwoko with Nic Grigsby gone.
"Ka'Deem is certainly one of the highlights of this recruiting class," Stoops said. "Certainly, a lot has gone on in the last 48 hours, but Ka'Deem has really shown some signs of maturity, really understanding the importance of what he's about to embark on the next four years. He's built a strong resume here in Tucson, and I expect him to continue that."
Carey wasn't the only last-minute, recruiting-class saver.
Arizona also got a late commitment from Patrick Onwuasor, a dynamic receiver from Inglewood High School in California.
Onwuasor, 6-foot-2 and 190 pounds, had been considering Miami and Arizona State, and waited until Wednesday morning to announce where he'll play. His decision to head to Tucson gives Arizona another option in what's an already-deep cache of playmakers on the outside.
Arizona also got last-minute decisions from Polynesian offensive linemen Faitele Faafoi and Lene Maiava and added four defensive linemen to plug the two most glaring holes on the roster. Junior college kicker Jaimie Salazar will give the Wildcats some competition with Alex Zendejas, who struggled late last season. The Wildcats locked up another quality local player in Salpointe Catholic offensive lineman Jacob Arzouman.
"I think we're probably in the middle of the pack as our class stacks up," Stoops said. "Obviously, USC and Oregon - and it looked like Cal - set the bar in recruiting and I think we fall right in line with the teams under there. I think this team is very comparable to a lot of teams in the Pac-10."