ASU football kicks off Early Signing Period by landing top talent

The 2019 recruiting class was headlined by two four-star quarterbacks

ASU football snatched up some of the nation's most coveted college players during the first day of the December Early Signing Period.

The program saw 17 of its 20 prospects in the 2019 recruiting class sign their national letters of intent on Wednesday to play for the team, including two four-star quarterbacks.

The caliber of the new recruits is a win for coach Herm Edwards and his staff as he caps off his first season with the Sun Devils and focuses on building up the program.

"We're not going to play second fiddle to anybody, we're going after the best players," Edwards said. 

Four players in the ESPN 300 chose ASU on Wednesday, bolstering ASU's national class ranking, which is projected to finish in the top 30 nationally. In total, the Sun Devils landed ten three-star prospects and seven four-stars.

"This is one of the best recruiting classes I've ever been a part of," said Rob Likens, the team's offensive coordinator.

While three 2019 ASU commits have yet to sign with the program, Wednesday's signees were headlined by the group of quarterbacks.

Quarterbacks

Quarterback Jayden Daniels was the first to sign with the program on Wednesday, following his verbal commitment to ASU last week. The 6-foot-3-inch Daniels is the top-ranked dual-threat quarterback in the country, according to 247 Sports.

Daniels, hailing from San Bernardino, Calif., was a four-year starter at Cajon High School, where he racked up over 14,007 passing yards and 170 touchdowns. He also added 3,645 rushing yards and 41 rushing touchdowns. 

Daniels will be joined by fellow southern California four-star recruit Joey Yellen, the No. 48 player in the country and No. 3 pocket passer quarterback by ESPN. Yellen turned down a late recruiting effort from SEC power Georgia to attend ASU, according to reports.

Rounding out the 2019 quarterback class for the Sun Devils is Oregon product Ethan Long, a three-star quarterback who was slated as the No. 20 pro-style quarterback by 247 Sports.

Although signing three quarterbacks in one class may be out of the ordinary, Edwards said it will bring out the best in his new signal-callers.

"You can't create enough competition at that position," he said. "When you get three quarterbacks and you tell them 'we're recruiting three guys' and none of them bat an eye, that tells me that (they are willing to compete)."

Likens attributed this strategy to the changing landscape in college football.

"It's to the point where you almost can't have enough quarterbacks now because you already know some of them are going to leave," he said. "Only one of them can play and most of the time, they're the most competitive guys out on the field."

Wide receiver and tight end

ASU landed local wide receiver Ricky Pearsall and other potential weapons on offense, including tight end Nolan Matthews and wide receiver Jordan Kerley both from Texas. 

From Corona Del Sol High School in Tempe, Pearsall was the No. 23 player in Arizona, according to 247 Sports Composite Rankings

In Texas' rich football recruit pool, Matthews and Kerley shined as three-star recruits, with Matthews being slated as the No. 9 tight end in the country by ESPN. 

"We have length, athleticism, and speed," Edwards said of the class. "That's what we want. That's the DNA of the Pac-12. If you are going to be a competitive football team, you have to recruit those types of players."

Offensive line

Four offensive linemen signed with the Sun Devils on Wednesday, including 6-foot-5-inch tackle Roman DeWys from Basha High School in Chandler.

The crop also included Texas' 11th ranked offensive tackle LaDarius Henderson, Hawaii's Ben Scott, and Dohnovan West, who is one of the four players who will be with the program for spring practice, according to the coaching staff.

The biggest need on offense was to improve the offensive line, Likens said, which he and staff said is being addressed with four players who possess great physical size.

Defensive line

The size kept coming late Wednesday, as 6-foot-6-inch Amiri Johnson and 6-foot-3-inch Stephon Wright were two of the eight players that ASU signed out of California. 

Since he took the job last year, Recruiting Director Antonio Pierce has aimed to build an ASU presence in that region.

"We got some more guys out there we can go get (from California)," Pierce said. "That's just a great start to the foundation that we laid last year."    

Secondary

The Sun Devils added five players to their secondary, including three from California, Willie Harts and twin brothers Keon and Kejuan Markham

Harts was ranked a top 100 cornerback nationally by ESPN and the Markham brothers were each highly touted out of Long Beach Poly High School, where Pierce coached for four years. 

ASU's fourth prospect in the ESPN 300 is Louisiana cornerback Jordan Clark, the son of former Super Bowl champion NFL safety Ryan Clark

The program also nabbed Scottsdale Saguaro High School's own Connor Soelle, who could see some reps as a safety for the Sun Devils. He joins his older brother Kyle on the ASU defense.

Defensive coordinator Danny Gonzales said that speed is what makes each defensive back in the class such a great fit in his system.  

"You can't coach that," Gonzales said. "There's going to be more speed on that field, and we're going to be one of the fastest teams in the Pac-12."


Reach the reporter at kmgianco@asu.edu and follow @Kaleb_Mart on Twitter.

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