clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

ASU Football: A look back at the 2012 recruiting class

New, 5 comments

This is the second of a four-part series looking back at ASU's past four recruiting classes. Up next is the class of 2012, which featured recruits from both Dennis Erickson's staff as well as Todd Graham's staff.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The 2012 recruiting class will go down as one of change at Arizona State. On November 28, 2011, Dennis Erickson was fired after five seasons as the head coach of Arizona State. Within four months, ASU had a new head coach and a new athletic director.

Todd Graham was hired on December 14, 2011. He inherited a team in need of discipline and a recruiting class that needed completion. Anytime a new head coach is hired, one of the main priorities is recruiting. Graham and the new staff had to evaluate and form relationships with the committed players as well as try to go out and target their own players to finish the class.

When the dust settled, ASU signed a class of 23 players in 2012. The class consisted of 11 defensive players, 10 offensive players, one special teams player and one "athlete." The signing class was ranked No. 38 in the country and No. 9 in the Pac-12 by Rivals .

Overview

The 2012 recruiting class was a combination between the staffs of Erickson and Graham. After being hired on December 14, 2011, Graham and his staff hit the recruiting trail hard in order to finish the recruiting cycle strong. They were able to land a handful of impactful commitments, including a few key in-state targets.

Four commitments were ranked as 4-star players according to ESPN and three were ranked as 4-star players according to Rivals.

One area where Graham and his staff hit hard was the junior college ranks. ASU signed nine junior college players in this class, seven of them committed after the coaching change.

Another theme of this class was the "Poly Five," the group of five players from the same high school in Long Beach, Calif., that all committed to Arizona State in the 2012 recruiting class. Four of them signed with ASU, three of them made it to campus, however only one of them is still on the team.

The Commits

Note: These commits were either true juniors or redshirt sophomores in 2014, with the exception of the junior college players signed.

QB - 0

RB - 3

D.J. Foster - Scottsdale, Ariz. (ESPN #21 ATH****) (Rivals: #5 ATH**** #71 nationally)

Foster was the first major commitment to Graham and the current staff. He chose ASU over USC, Cal and Oregon with less than a week until national signing day. Foster has started since he walked onto campus in 2012. That season, he rushed for 493 yards and recorded 533 receiving yards, with 10 total touchdowns.

The Scottsdale, Ariz. product rushed for 1,081 yards in 2014 and was named second team All-Pac-12. Foster has proven to be one of the most versatile players in school history and is likely to spend most of next season at wide receiver.

Marion Grice - Houston, Tex. Blinn C.C. (ESPN: N/A) (Rivals: N/A**** #5 JC player nationally)

Less than a week after landing Foster, ASU picked up a commitment from another high profile running, this time it was from the junior college ranks. Marion Grice was rated as the No. 1 JUCO running back in the country by Rivals. He joined Foster in the ASU backfield in 2012, rushing for 679 yards and being named honorable mention All-Pac-12.

In 2013, Grice made the second team All-Pac-12 team after he rushed for 996 yards. Despite playing just two seasons, Grice left Tempe fifth on ASU's all-time touchdown list, finding the endzone 39 times in just 25 games.

Terrell Davis - Alberta, Canada (ESPN: #175**) (Rivals: N/A**)

Davis came to ASU with a familiar name, but did not find nearly the success that the other running back who shares his name found. After redshirting in 2012, he played in one game in 2013 and transferred in the spring of 2014. He now plays college football in Canada.

TE - 0

WR - 3

Richard Smith - Long Beach, Calif. (ESPN: #39****) (Rivals: #63***)

Smith caught 32 passes for 276 yards in 2013, however he became infamous for the passes he didn't catch. Smith was plagued by drops during his time at ASU. In 2014, his time in Tempe ended, as he transferred to Boise State and sat out last season. Smith will be eligible for the Broncos this fall.

Josiah Blandin - Long Beach, Calif. (ESPN: #67***) (Rivals: #89***)

Blandin was Smith's teammate at Long Beach Poly High School. He wore maroon and gold for an even shorter amount of time than Smith did. After not seeing action in 2012, Blandin transferred to a junior college in California in the spring of 2013. He is currently committed to Colorado in their 2015 recruiting class.

Alonzo Agwuenu - Chinco Hills, Calif., Mt. San Antonio C.C. (ESPN: N/A) (Rivals: N/A)

Agwuenu appeared in 14 games over two years with the program. In 2012, he caught 11 passes and appeared in 11 games. However, his number dipped in 2013 as he caught just one pass and appeared in three games that season for Arizona State.

TE - 2

Kody Kohl - Gilbert, Ariz. (ESPN: #93**) (Rivals: N/A**)

Kohl starred at Mesquite High School before coming to Arizona State where he had a quiet first two seasons in Tempe. Kohl redshirted in 2012 and did not see any action in 2013. In 2014, he somewhat surprisingly became the No. 1 tight end option, catching 16 passes for 167 yards and four touchdowns. With De'Marieya Nelson graduating, Kohl should start 2015 as the clear No. 1 tight end.

Darwin Rogers - Chicago, Ill., Arizona Western C.C. (ESPN: N/A) (Rivals: N/A**)

Rogers was one of the most physically intimidating players on the ASU roster in 2012 and 2013. On the field, he caught 4 passes for 43 yards and a touchdown in two seasons at Arizona State. He was used mostly as a blocker in his two seasons with the Sun Devils.

OT - 2

Evan Goodman - Lakeland, Fla. (ESPN: #21****) (Rivals: #30****)

Goodman's older brother signed with ASU in the 2011 class, and Evan who stayed committed after the coaching change. Goodman had offers from Florida, Auburn, FSU, Georgia, LSU, Notre Dame and Ohio State out of high school.

He saw action in 11 games in 2012 and redshirted in 2013. After spending 2014 as a backup he is projected to be the starting left tackle come fall of 2015.

William McGehee Corsicana, Tex., Navarro C.C. (ESPN: N/A) (Rivals: N/A**)

McGehee has been a reserve lineman the past two seasons in Tempe and will be a redshirt senior this fall.

OG - 1

Stephon McCray - Fresno, Calif. (ESPN: #21****) (Rivals: #43***)

McCray redshirted in 2012 and has been a reserve lineman the past two seasons. Most noticeably, McCray filled in for center Nick Kelly in the Territorial Cup when Kelly was injured in the first quarter. He brings a great amount of versatility to the offensive line.

LS - 1

Easton Wahlstrom - Scottsdale, Ariz. (ESPN #8**) (Rivals: N/A**)

Wahlstrom has been the ASU longsnapper since 2012. The fact that most people reading this piece do not know his name means he did a great job. It was recently announced that Wahlstrom will graduate early and not be part of the 2015 team.

DT - 4

Mike Pennel - Aurora, Colo., Scottsdale C.C. (ESPN: N/A) (Rivals: N/A***)

Pennel found himself in the "doghouse" of Graham and his defensive staff early in his ASU career. Pennel posted a series of tweets complaining about his playing time in October of 2012 and a few days later he was suspended from the team for a violation of team rules.

Pennel transfered to Colorado State University Pueblo and was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Packers in 2014, where he played in 13 games this past season.

Jake Sheffield - Denver, Colo., College of the Desert C.C. (ESPN: N/A) (Rivals: N/A***)

Sheffield's biggest claim to fame at ASU is running out with the American flag onto the field before every game. A former military serviceman, Sheffield played in 22 games in two seasons at Arizona State, making just nine career tackles.

Milo Jordan - Corona, Calif. (ESPN: #88***) (Rivals: N/A***)

Jordan never enrolled at Arizona State. Academic issues forced him to attend Arizona Western C.C. after signing with ASU.

Jaxon Hood - Chandler, Ariz. (ESPN: #164**) (Rivals: N/A***)

Hood made a few freshman All-American teams in 2012 after starting 12 games, posting 26 tackles and three sacks. In 2013, he suffered through injuries and only made 17 tackles.

This past year, Hood struggled with a personal issue that kept him out of part of training camp and again at the end of the season. It remains to be seen what his future with the program is.

ILB - 1

Steffon Martin - Indianapolis, Ind., Arizona Western C.C. (ESPN: N/A) (Rivals: N/A***  #34 JUCO player nationally)

Martin had a very active career with ASU. He played in all 27 games during his two seasons with the program, posting 70 tackles in his career.

OLB - 3

Carlos Mendoza - Woodland Hills, Calif. (ESPN: #75***) (Rivals: N/A***)

Mendoza provided an immediate impact on the 2012 defense, intercepting two passes in the second game of the season against Illinois. However, he suffered a season-ending shoulder injury that game and his career has not gotten back on track.

Mendoza only tallied five tackles in 2013 and he has been surpassed on the depth chart by younger players. Mendoza will still be in the mix at linebacker in 2015 but has not had the same impact since his freshman year.

Matt Rowe - Long Beach, Calif. (ESPN: #37***) (Rivals: #61***)

After redshirting in 2012, Rowe did not see action in 2013 and he transferred in the spring of 2014.

Salamo Fiso - Long Beach, Calif. (ESPN: #32***) (Rivals: #26***)

Fiso is the most successful of the four players to sign to ASU from Poly High School in Long Beach. Fiso redshirted in 2012 and was moved the starting lineup early in the 2013 season. He made 10 starts and appeared in all 14 games as a redshirt freshman, totaling 71 tackles and 5.5 tackles for loss.

In 2014, he started all 13 games and posted 83 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks. Fiso has proven to be an excellent run defender and one of the most consistent defensive players for ASU the past two years. The exciting thing for Sun Devil fans is that he has two years of eligibility left.

S - 2

Laiu Moeakiola - Euless, Tex. (ESPN: #151**) (Rivals: #42***)

After starting his career in the secondary, Moeakiola moved into the front seven this year at SPUR linebacker. The argument can be made he was ASU's defensive MVP this year, due to the defense's performance with him off the field.

Moeakiola tallied 72 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss and five sacks in 2014. Moeakiola is asked to blitz, help agains the run and cover tight ends and wide receivers in ASU's defensive scheme. Like Fiso, his future is very exciting.

Chris Young - Auburn, Wash., Arizona Western C.C. (ESPN: N/A) (Rivals: N/A***)

Young was recruiting as a defensive back but made his living at ASU as a linebacker. From 2012-2013, he started all 27 games and was named second team All-Pac-12 in 2014. As a junior in 2013, he made 82 tackles, including 14 tackles for loss. In 2014, he tallied 112 tackles and 17.5 tackles for loss.

CB - 1

Oliver Johnson - Woodland Hills, Calif., Pierce C.C (ESPN: N/A) (Rivals: N/A***)

Pierce Community College produced a special ASU wide receiver that will be discussed in next week's installment of this series. However, Johnson did not work out so well, as he left the team after the 2013 season.

Analysis

This class produced several more impact players than the 2011 class did under Erickson. The former ASU coach should get some credit for his class, as Fiso, Goodman, Kohl, McCray and Mendoza are all players who committed under Erickson that went on to see playing time at ASU. Goodman and Kohl should be starters next year and Mendoza is a proven rotational player.

The more impactful players from this class come from the work Graham and his staff did at ASU, particularly in the junior college ranks. The new ASU staff secured commitments from Foster, Grice, Young, Martin, Moeakiola and Hood in less than two months. Foster's commitment remains the most impactful commitment both on the field and in the local recruiting scene for Graham and his staff.

Of the 23 players in this class, eight have made significant impacts at ASU (Foster, Grice, Fiso, Kohl, Hood, Martin, Moeakiola, Young). Goodman should assume a larger role next season and McCray, Sheffield, Rogers, Mendoza and Agwuenu all saw action or are still seeing action in a reserve role at ASU.

However, because of transfers and the large number of junior college players, only nine players remain from this class. Johnson, Blandin, Davis, Pennel and Rowe all transferred out of Tempe before their careers could get going. Jordan did not qualify and Smith departed after an up-and-down 2013 season.

Superlatives

Biggest Surprise: Laiu Moeakiola

A lot of people on the ASU team will tell you Moeakiola was the defensive MVP in 2014. He does so much in the ASU defense and he does everything well. ASU's worst games was when he was not on the field due to injury.

Biggest Disappointment: Mike Pennel

Pennel had all the tools to be a very good player in ASU's scheme. His off-the-field incidents kept him from having a successful career in Tempe. The fact that he is currently in the NFL after completing his career at Colorado State University Pueblo only reinforces that.

Best Player: D.J. Foster

It can be debated who was better between Foster and Marion Grice. The fact that Foster will play here for four years puts him above Grice to me. Foster's commitment showed early on the commitment that Graham and his staff have to keeping the best local players in the Valley.

Re-ranking the class

  1. Foster
  2. Grice
  3. Moeakiola
  4. Young
  5. Fiso