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National Signing Day: Recapping Arizona State’s successful late push

Choo, Choo!

Nicole Hernandez/House of Sparky

Herm Edwards and the Arizona State Sun Devils’ train has left the station — not without jumping from 67th up to the 36th best recruiting class in the nation in less than 24 hours.

Recruiting coordinator Donnie Yantis promised 10 more recruits following the early signing period (Dec. 20-22), he came away with 11, boosting the Sun Devils from 12th to fifth in the 247Sports Pac-12 recruiting class rankings.

Here’s what the future looks like, followed by our takeaways:

Early signing period signees

Order Name Position Location Rating Positional Ranking
Order Name Position Location Rating Positional Ranking
1 Stanley Lambert OLB San Antonio, TX ★★★ No. 65 (ATH)
2 Dominique Harrison CB Brenham, TX ★★★ No. 5 (JUCO)
3 Michael Matus DE Katy, TX ★★★ No. 33
4 A.J. Carter RB Many, LA ★★★ No. 33
5 Brock Sturges RB Allen, TX ★★★ No 46
6 Christian LaValle LB Mission Viejo, CA ★★★ No. 42
7 Ralph Frias OT Safford, AZ ★★★ No. 77
8 Ely Doyle S Valencia, CA ★★★ No. 74
9 Demetrious Flowers RB Bellflower, CA ★★★ No. 56
10 Reggie Hughes OLB Calabasas, CA ★★★★ No. 33
11 Terin Adams CB San Francisco, CA ★★★ No. 18 (JUCO)

National Signing Day Signees

Order Name Position Location Highest Rating Positional Ranking (247Sports)
Order Name Position Location Highest Rating Positional Ranking (247Sports)
1 Spencer Lovell OG Fort Collins, CO ★★★ 77
2 Casey Tucker OT Chandler, AZ Stanford transfer Stanford transfer
3 Isaiah Floyd RB Pleasanton, CA ★★★ 10 (JUCO)
4 Cameron Phillips S Houston, TX ★★★ 111
5 Jarrett Bell OG Norco, CA ★★★★ 21
6 Jermayne Lole SDE Long Beach, CA ★★★★ 15
7 Aashari Crosswell LB Long Beach, CA ★★★★ 10
8 Geordon Porter WR Rancho Cucamonga, CA ★★★ 93
9 Darien Butler LB Harbor City, CA ★★★ 55
10 Brandon Aiyuk ATH Rocklin, CA ★★ 17 (JUCO)
11 Merlin Robertson OLB Gardena, CA ★★★★ 8

Edwards hit the accelerator, Sumlin couldn’t

On the eve of National Signing Day, Arizona State ranked last in the Pac-12 and in the bottom half of the nation. After Wednesday, that wasn’t the case. Edwards improved as time went. He was hired on Dec. 3, coming 17 days before the early signing period. From the 11 players to sign early, seven came from former ASU head coach Todd Graham, and six were three stars. That early signing class had an average rating of 3.09 stars. Give Edwards another month and a half, and his second class had a 3.3 average, landing four four-star recruits and a highly-touted Stanford transfer.

Arizona head coach Kevin Sumlin was hired on Jan. 14, giving him 38 days to compile a coaching staff, while trying to allure a recruiting class. The clock ticked, and Sumlin couldn’t keep up. Arizona signed just four recruits on National Signing Day, two of the Wildcats’ commits flipped to other schools. Arizona finished 11th in the Pac-12 and 58th in the nation.

Antonio Pierce strikes gold

ASU linebackers coach Antonio Pierce, who ironically went Arizona, also won a Super Bowl and coached at Long Beach Poly High School from 2014-17. It payed off.

All five of Arizona State’s four-star recruits came from SoCal, and three of the five were linebackers — the position Pierce once played. In 247Sports’ ratings, the top-6 recruits who signed with ASU all came from SoCal. Aashari Crosswell and Jermayne Lole, two four stars who Pierce Coached at Poly, singed with ASU together, announcing it in this commitment video. Serra High School (Gardena, California) Linebacker Merlin Roberston, who ranked the No. 8 OLB in the nation and 16th best player in California by 247Sports, played Pierce’s Long Beach Poly in 2017. Jarrett Bell (Norco) and Reggie Hughes (Calabasas) were the other SoCal four stars to sign with ASU.

Much-needed depth gets rebooted

Seven of 11 starting defenders in 2017 will not return, and the Sun Devils made up for it, especially at the linebacker position. Offensively, seven of 11 are set to return, leaving holes open on the o-line and in the backfield that ASU quickly sewed together.

Kalen Ballage and Demario Richard were ample to the offense, and that’s why the Sun Devils signed four running backs. Eno Benjamin should fit in nicely, but bringing in Isaiah Floyd, a 1,700 yard rusher at Sierra College and Brock Sturges (Allen High School), who rushed for 1,985 yards and a Texas state championship, should also provide depth.

On the defensive end, linebackers Alani Latu, J’Marcus Rhodes, Christian Sam and DJ Calhoun, and defensive linemen JoJo Wicker and Tashon Smallwood either left early or graduated. Insert the four-star linebacker trio of Roberston, Hughes and Crosswell. In terms of defensive end, Lole may find his way in the role nicely.

Lastly, o-linemen Sam Jones and A.J. McCollum departed, leaving a couple spots open. Casey Tucker, a former Stanford starting offensive tackle and once-Hamilton High School four-star recruit, will look to make an immediate impact as a grad transfer. Then, Bell, a four-star offensive guard who was once committed to Alabama, signed with ASU over Nebraska, UCLA, Louisville, and Notre Dame among others.