Good things are on the horizon for ASU football.
The Sun Devils officially signed 25 football prospects on Wednesday’s National Signing Day to finalize what many consider is ASU’s most decorated recruiting class in team history.
As of Wednesday, Rivals.com rated ASU’s recruiting class 21st in the nation and Scout.com ranked ASU 17th, the highest the team has ever been ranked in both ratings.
“(I was told) this is the best class of the Internet era, but it’s better than (on paper),” ASU coach Todd Graham said.
For much of the offseason, ASU had the top recruiting class in the Pac-12 until Stanford, UCLA and USC picked up high-rated prospects within the past couple of days.
ASU signed 15 players on defense and 10 players on offense, with the position that ASU recruited the most was at defensive line at seven.
With nine defensive starters from last year gone, Graham acknowledged he needed to fill spots that players like defensive tackle Will Sutton and Devilbacker Carl Bradford left. He was confident during Wednesday’s practice that he filled his holes on that side of the ball.
“There’s a lot been said, like, ‘Golly, you got a lot of big shoes to fill (on defense),’” Graham said. “Obviously, that’s what you want every year to be. … We built it from the inside out, from the front back, and we felt like we met our needs from a defensive standpoint.”
Several four-star athletes headline ASU’s 2014 recruiting class, including wide receiver Tyler Whiley from Scottsdale Chaparral High School, wide receiver Jalen Harvey from El Cerrito, Calif., defensive tackle Tashon Smallwood from Fresno, Calif., and defensive end Connor Humphries from Portland, Ore.
The Sun Devils also signed quarterback Manny Wilkins from San Marin High School Novato, Calif. Since he committed to ASU last May, Wilkins has been active with the ASU community on Twitter and reportedly helped recruit some of the other players onto the team. Graham praised Wilkins for his character.
Another notable ASU signing is Coltin Gerhart, a three-star athlete from Murrieta, Calif. Gerhart is the younger brother of former ASU center Garth Gerhart and current Minnesota Vikings running back Toby Gerhart. Coltin is expected to play quarterback with the Sun Devils, and Graham said he plays with a lot of toughness for a quarterback.
Four-star linebacker D.J. Calhoun already signed with ASU back in November under the Institutional Financial Aid Agreement and is already working out with the team. The El Cerrito High School (Calif.) grad originally committed to USC before switching to ASU in October.
The Sun Devils also picked up several top junior college prospects, including four-star wide receiver Eric Lauderdale from Saddleback Community College (Calif.), four-star running back De’Chavon “Gump” Hayes from Lackawanna College (Penn.) and three-star defensive back Kweishi Brown from Grossmont College (Calif.).
ASU’s had two surprise signings on Wednesday, picking up four-star defensive tackle Dalvon Stuckey and three-star defensive end Darrius Caldwell, both from Pearl River Community College in Mississippi. Caldwell was originally committed to South Carolina before flipping his pledge at the last minute.
“We’re just not looking at film and offering scholarships; we’re looking for young people that fit the Sun Devil Way and how we go about doing things,” Graham said. “We’re looking for young men that are givers and that have great character. Obviously you know how discipline our character is and you have to have passion for working, because we actually love to work.”
ASU signed 10 players from California, three from Arizona, two from Texas, Georgia and Virginia, and one from Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Nevada, Oregon and Pennsylvania.
ASU is still waiting on Kalen Ballage, a four-star athlete from Falcon High School in Colorado, to sign his National Letter of Intent. Falcon had a snow day on Wednesday, forcing Ballage to postpone his Signing Day press conference to Thursday. Ballage gave ASU a soft commitment on Jan. 17, but reports surfaced on Wednesday that there’s a chance he could sign with UCLA instead.
Graham didn’t mention Ballage by name and couldn’t comment on his current status, but he was confident and hoped Ballage would be able to sign with the team on Thursday.
A lot of players were so excited on their visits to ASU that a lot of them repeated Graham’s philosophies back to him during meetings in his office. During the recruiting process, Graham said he wanted to make sure the recruits believed they were a fit to the program and that they were making the best decisions for themselves. He said it’s why he was happy for all of his recruits that decided to come here and happy for the other recruits that decided to sign with other schools.
“I want to wish the guys that went elsewhere the very, very best of luck as well,” Graham said.
Reach the reporter at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @Josh_Nacion
|DJ Calhoun||Linebacker||El Cerrito, CA||El Cerrito H.S.|
|Edmond Boateng||Defensive Line||Wesley Chapel, FL||New Mexico Military Institute|
|Chad Adams||Defensive Back||Allen, TX||Allen, TX|
|Christian Sam||Linebacker||Allen, TX||Allen, TX|
|Renell Wren||Defensive Line||St. Louis, MO||Lutheran H.S.|
|Ismael Murphy-Richardson||Defensive Line||Goodyear, AZ||Desert Edge H.S.|
|Sam Jones||Offensive Line||Highlands Ranch, CO||ThunderRidge H.S.|
|Tyler Whiley||Wide Receiver||Scottsdale, AZ||Chaparral H.S.|
|Quinn Bailey||Offensive Line||Gilbert, AZ||Higley H.S.|
|Dasmond Tautalatasi||Defensive Back||Concord, CA||De La Salle H.S.|
|Connor Humphreys||Defensive Line||Portland, OR||Central Catholic H.S.|
|Jalen Harvey||Wide Receiver||El Cerrito, CA||El Cerrito H.S.|
|Manny Wilkins||Quarterback||Novato, CA||San Marin H.S.|
|Tashon Smallwood||Defensive Line||Fresno, CA||Central H.S.|
|Dalvon Stuckey||Defensive Line||DeFuniak Springs, FL||Pearl River JC|
|Armand Perry||Defensive Back||Las Vegas, NV||Bishop Gorman H.S.|
|Kweishi Brown||Defensive Back||El Cajon, CA||Grossmont College|
|Deandre Scott||Defensive Back||Philadelphia, PA||Imhotep Charter H.S.|
|Brendan Landman||Tight End||Danville, CA||Monte Vista H.S.|
|Demario Richard||Running Back||Palmdale, CA||Palmdale H.S.|
|Coltin Gerhart||Quarterback||Murrieta, CA||Vista Murrieta H.S.|
|De’Chavon “Gump” Hayes||Running Back||Richmond, VA||Lackawanna College|
|Jamal Scott||Linebacker||Anaheim, CA||Magnolia H.S.|
|Eric Lauderdale||Wide Receiver||Fayetville, GA||Saddleback College|
|Darrius Caldwell||Linebacker||Atlanta, GA||Pearl River CC|