Arizona State Football Recruiting: Todd Graham Puts Together Solid First Class

Kevin BonnevilleContributor IIIFebruary 2, 2012

TEMPE, AZ - DECEMBER 14:  Head coach Todd Graham (R) of the Arizona State Sun Devil poses with Vice President for Athletics Lisa Love (L) at a press conference introducing him as the new head football coach at Sun Devil Stadium on December 14, 2011 in Tempe, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Less than two months ago, the Arizona State football program was in shambles. The administration had just fired Dennis Erickson and was set to hire SMU head coach June Jones, but after backlash from students and alumni, athletic director Lisa Love nixed the move and decided to hire Pittsburgh head coach Todd Graham.

For many, Graham was a bit of a head-scratcher. He was coming onto his third head coaching job in two seasons, and even though he turned around the Rice program, Graham wasn't a big name and didn't excite a lot of the Sun Devils fanbase.

Despite those things, Graham has gotten off to a solid start recruiting-wise with less than two months on the job. Graham managed to keep several of Erickson's recruits, something that is hard to do in the late stages of recruiting, and he also added some guys of his own.

When national signing day came to an end yesterday, 23 players has signed their letters of intent to play in Tempe for the 2012 season. Fourteen of those players were high school seniors and nine of them were from junior college transfers, something that was a cornerstone of Bruce Snyder's classes when he was at ASU.

The nine JC players are arguably some of the best players of the 2012 class. Running back Marion Grice signed with ASU yesterday. Staffon Martin and Chris Young, both who attended Arizona Western, are two linebackers that many recruiting experts believe will have Sun Devils fans quickly forgetting about Vontaze Burfict.

The other six junior college players are to provide depth at positions of need.

Graham also did a solid job of recruiting at the high school level, too. The prize of the class is D.J. Foster, a local product from Saguaro High School in Scottsdale. Foster is one of the better running backs in the country and will join the deepest unit on ASU's roster.

If you haven't seen his YouTube videos yet, they are a must. If the young man can stay healthy, there is no reason why he won't be one of the best tailbacks in the Pac-12 over the next four seasons. He is that good.

Probably the most important thing to come from ASU getting Foster was the program was finally able to keep in-state talent. For too many years now, Arizona's top players have been going to other schools across the country. You can't be a good football program if you can't hold onto talent that is in your backyard.

To add on to the great news, according to every credible recruiting outlet on the web, ASU's class ranked ahead of arch rival Arizona's. It is remarkable considering that Wildcats head coach Rich Rodriguez was on the job for more than a month before Graham even came on the scene. Rich Rod also has much bigger name recognition and a more impressive resume.

Now all of that can change if Davonte Neal commits to Arizona. Neal is the best overall player in the state of Arizona. A couple of his teammates are already Wildcats and Neal is expected to visit Tucson in the coming weeks and make his college choice not too long after that.

Despite that, you have to tip your cap to Graham and his staff on this year's class considering the circumstances that they were put in. They are already said to be in on with several of the state's top-level talent for the 2013 class. That wasn't the case for the majority of Erickson's five seasons in Tempe.

It remains to be seen on how Graham's teams will perform on the field, but he is off to a very impressive start on the recruiting front.