With the 2013 National Signing Day for college football just around the corner, Arizona State is covering every square inch of the recruiting trail in search of blue chip prospects
New coach Todd Graham and his staff had surprising success with their 2012 recruiting effort (e.g., D.J. Foster, Marion Grice, Chris Young, etc.), and they hope to improve on this performance with the current class.
As of now, Arizona State’s verbal commitments represent a diverse group of talent. They range from nationally recognized players such as four-star quarterback Joshua Dobbs of Alpharetta (GA) HS to in-state standouts like four-star linebacker/fullback Chans Cox of Lakeside Blue Ridge (Ariz.) HS.
Other key ASU commits include tight ends Grant Martinez and De’Marieya Nelson; wide receivers Joe Morris, Jaelen Strong, Ellis Jefferson and Ronald Lewis; linebackers Viliami Latu, Antonio Longino, Eriquel Florence and A.J. Latu; defensive linemen Garrett Marino, Demetrius Cherry, Nick Begg and Jack Powers; and athlete Nick Brown.
So what’s in store for ASU down the recruiting home stretch?
According to Scout.com recruiting analysts and other sources, the Sun Devils are seeking to add 4-5 quality recruits to their current class. Their efforts are focused on a coveted group of uncommitted players, who have the potential to significantly improve this year’s recruiting report card.
First the good news: Arizona State’s defensive line, already bolstered by the return of Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year Will Sutton, got another boost last Friday with the commitment of Dodge City (Kan.) Community College defensive end Marcus Hardison, the No. 5 player in the ESPN Junior College 100.
Hardison, 6’4”, 275 pounds, chose the Sun Devils over Kansas State, West Virginia, Washington, South Florida and Auburn, but also had offers from programs such as Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Arkansas, Oklahoma State and TCU.
Now the bad news: Despite a strong pitch from ASU coaches and staff, Desmond Harrison, a three-star juco lineman from Contra Costa (Calif.) College, announced his commitment to Texas on Monday. The 6’8”, 310-pound Harrison was recruited to play left tackle, and had offers from more than 20 schools.
For its defensive line, ASU has a strong interest in O. Perry Walker (LA) HS defensive end Corey Smith. Smith, 6’7” and 245 pounds, has received more than 15 offers from schools that include Miami, Arkansas, Colorado, Texas A&M, SMU and Southern Mississippi. Smith originally committed to Tulane and will likely visit Kentucky before making a decision.
ASU’s attacking 3-4 defensive scheme makes it a prime destination for linebackers, and the Sun Devils still have their eye on several enticing prospects. For example, Cameron Judge, a soft commit to UCLA, could be destined for Tempe. A product of Oaks Christian (Calif.) HS, the 6’2”, 215-pound Judge has ideal size for a weak side backer and displays outstanding football intelligence. The Sun Devil staff is recruiting him as a Spur linebacker, which is a safety/linebacker hybrid role in the ASU defense. Judge is scheduled to visit UCLA the last weekend before signing day.
Another UCLA pledge, Myles Jack, is the son of ASU alumni. Jack appears slightly more solid with the Bruins than Judge, but could turn out to be an LOI surprise.
When it comes to the secondary, most of the discussion around ASU has centered on Tempe Marcos De Niza (Ariz.) HS defensive back Priest Willis. The top ranked corner in the region, Willis has been actively courted by a host of powerhouse programs, including LSU, Florida State, Nebraska, Virginia and UCLA. On the flip side, Willis has expressed fondness for his hometown Sun Devils. Look for him to announce his plans later this week.
Besides Willis, Arizona State has several other intriguing prospects for its secondary — not the least of which is Fresno (Calif.) Central HS cornerback L.J. Moore. Scout.com ranked the 6’1”, 175-pound Moore as the No. 24 cornerback in the 2013 class. He has excellent size and loves big hits. Moore has already officially visited Notre Dame, Texas Tech, Oregon State and Oklahoma. ASU now appears to have made it onto his shortlist.
In addition, Upland (Calif.) HS safety James Johnson recently visited Arizona State. As a junior, the 6’2”, 205-pound Johnson posted 62 tackles, four passes defended and two interceptions for the 12-1 Upland Highlanders.
Mesa (Ariz.) Community College cornerback Damarious Randall has had ASU in his sights for several months now. At 6’0” and 185 pounds, Randall can play either corner or safety and that ability makes him very attractive to programs across the country.
Finally, Arizona State has made the wide receiver position a priority for its 2013 class, and Coppell (Texas) HS star Cameron Smith is still on the board. Smith reportedly fielded offers from North Texas and Illinois, and TCU, Memphis, Houston and Texas have expressed interest in him. He is expected to take one remaining visit, to Iowa, prior to the signing deadline.
Darren Carrington from San Diego Horizon (Calif.) HS has emerged as a possible wildcard in Arizona State’s 2013 class. The four-star receiver committed to Oregon in June, but has been in contact with the ASU staff since the departure of Ducks’ coach Chip Kelly.