Sun Devil Football: 2018 National Signing Day Outlook

After an underwhelming early signing period, new Sun Devils head coach Herm Edwards looks to regroup for what will likely be an underwhelming 2018 recruiting class. According to Yahoo’s 24/7 Sports recruiting class rankings, Arizona State currently has the 11th ranked recruiting class in the Pac-12, only ahead of Oregon State, whose lone win in 2017 came against Portland State.

It is expected for a new head coach to struggle when inheriting a new class, but Arizona State’s woes this recruiting cycle have been extraordinary.

Early Signing Period

ASU’s early signing period was underwhelming at best. With only 11 signed players, Herm Edwards is going to have to make a major rally for the Sun Devils to reach anywhere close to the 25-scholarship limit.

After Demario Richard and Kalen Ballage finished out their senior seasons, running back became a position that desperately needed more depth. Edwards was able to inherit three different running backs on the early signing day, including 3-star back AJ Carter who was being heavily sought after by both LSU and UCLA. The only other offensive recruits to sign with ASU are wide receiver Stanley Lambert and tackle Ralph Frias.

The rest of the offensive positions are a point of concern. The firing of Graham and subsequent hiring of Edwards led to the decommitments of four different offensive players, including tackle Jarrett Patterson, who was the only 4-star recruit of the ASU class according to 24/7 Sports.

On defense, things are looking a little more bright. Edwards was able to retain all of the recruits in the secondary, helping bolster a position that is in need of more depth. The secondary class is highlighted by 3-star cornerback Dominique Harrison, who was the 5th ranked CB recruit in the country and ranked 3rd overall in the state of Georgia. The front 7, which was crucial to the success of the defense last year, only has 2 signees making it a priority for Edwards on National Signing Day.

While the early signing period was underwhelming at best, the fact that Edwards was able to bolster the running back position and keep the entire defensive back class should give ASU fans something to be enthusiastic about.

National Signing Day: A Look Ahead

In the weeks leading up to National Signing Day, ASU has had a string of official visits that should make Sun Devil fans hopeful that this class won’t be too empty.

Some of the noteworthy offensive visitors include 3-star running back Maurice Washington, who was the Under Armour All-America Game MVP, and 3-star offensive guard Jarrett Bell, who was a former Alabama commit.

There are a plethora of front-7 and offensive line recruits taking official visits to ASU, showing where Edwards is focusing his attention. 4-star linebacker Merlin Robertson and 4-star safety Aashari Crosswell headline the group of defensive recruits. Both players have been recruited heavily by new LB coach Antonio Pierce.

One thing to not expect on National Signing Day is a top recruit from Arizona to sign with the Sun Devils. The last uncommitted top 15 in-state recruit is 4-star WR Solomon Enis, who appears to be going to Happy Valley to join James Franklin and the Nittany Lions. Unless Enis shocks the recruiting world, this will be the first ASU class without a top 10 in-state recruit since at least 2000 (24/7 Sports’ recruiting database only has records through 2000).

Players to Watch for NSD

Here are some 2018 players with their 24/7 Sports rankings that have visited or been offered in the past month by Herm Edwards and his new staff.

#129 Merlin Robertson is from Gardena, CA and is an OLB. USC and Oklahoma have been recruiting him as well. Antonio Pierce has been busy visiting him recently though. His official visit to ASU was on January 12th

#134 Aashari Crosswell is a safety that played for Pierce at Long Beach Poly, but Nebraska and USC are in play as well. Crosswell visited with Robertson on the 12th.

#245 Maurice Washington is a RB from San Jose, CA, and he will officially visit Nebraska and Ohio State the next two weeks. He was on his official in Tempe on January 19th.

#438 Jarrett Bell is an OL from Norco, CA, and he just officially visited ASU last weekend. Nebraska and UCLA are our main competitors here as he has already visited both.

#555 Geordon Porter is a WR from Rancho Cucamonga who recently de-committed from Notre Dame. Texas A&M going after him aggressively as Jimbo Fisher surprised him with a home visit a couple days ago. ASU isn’t out of play, but it will be a tough get as he visits College Station next week.

#1151 Darian Butler is from Harbor City, CA and is a MLB. He is visiting this weekend, and he seems like a lock to sign here as ASU is his biggest offer. Antonio Pierce gave him a home visit on January 17th.

Although he is not ranked nationally, Spencer Lovell is a OL from Fort Collins and is committed to Colorado State, but he has recently received an offer and a home visit. UCLA has followed with a home visit and an offer.

Also unranked, Joshua Gray is an OL from Rancho Cucamonga who is on his official visit this weekend. Gray decision will come down to ASU and Oregon State, who he visited two weeks ago.


Outlook After 2018

The lack of interest ASU is garnering from in-state recruits is alarming. A majority of the top recruits simply aren’t considering attending ASU after the hire of Herm Edwards. QB Brock Purdy from Gilbert turned down their scholarship offer when ASU expressed interest. It is very possible that the 2018 recruiting class will only have 1 player from Arizona.

The head coaching changes from both Arizona schools could make the 2018 in-state recruiting cycle seem like an anomaly. The usual trio of USC, ASU, and UofA aren’t signing a large number of recruits from the state like they used to. Instead, schools like Purdue, Syracuse, New Mexico State and Iowa State are dipping their toes in the Arizona waters.

The first recruiting cycle is never a fair way to base opinions on a new coach. A successful National Signing Day may look like ASU just breaking the 20-signee threshold, which would be completely acceptable as a starting class for Edwards. Of course, after Athletic Director Ray Anderson openly discussed having big hopes for bringing talent to ASU, there will be less leeway for Edwards to struggle in 2019 and years to come on the recruiting front. 

Check out ASU’s official recruiting Twitter page as they continue to hand out offers for the class of 2018. If you look through the tweets from the past month, Edwards has been very active in recruiting end high-end players in the class of 2019 in California.

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