Arizona State football coach Todd Graham has brought a new culture of discipline, accountability and respect to the desert, once thought of as a barren wasteland where talent went to die. This perception led to many of the state's leading recruits seeking solace somewhere, anywhere besides the metropolitan Phoenix area.
Today though, the suburb of Chandler, Arizona borders Tempe and Arizona State University to the south and is a city rich in football talent with some of the states best college football prospects. Last year, the No. 1 recruit in the state, Brett Hundley of Chandler High committed to UCLA and went on to play as a true freshman and led the Bruins to a Pac-12 South title. The No. 2 recruit in the state, offensive lineman, Christian Westerman out of Chandler's Hamilton High School committed to Auburn University.
With the recent regime change, Westerman left Auburn and transferred home to Arizona State University. There are many others in Arizona that are seeing the difference in the Sun Devils and are deciding to stay home. Coach Graham and his recruiting staff are reaching out far and wide to bring in the best recruits from across the country.
The 2013 edition of the Arizona State Sun Devils looks to bring back excellence on the gridiron due to several returning players, but this article is dedicated to a select group of new recruits that will shine in the coming season.
The state's number three recruit according to Rivals.com is about as close to a hometown hero as you can get.
Cox, the 4-star linebacker out of Blue Ridge High School in Lakeside, Arizona committed to Arizona State before the 2012 season started and graduated high school at the mid semester break. He is scheduled to move onto campus on Monday, Jan. 7 according to local authority Brad Cesmat of Pros2Preps.com.
Cox will be an immediate starter in the complex Sun Devils defense and will take on the difficult task of trying to replace a school legend in Brandon Magee. Magee was named to the All-Pac-12 second team defense and led the team in tackles.
Two other senior linebackers will be absent in 2013 so look for Cox to be an immediate start for Graham and the Sun Devils.
Another Rivals.com 4-star linebacker with previous ties to Arizona State University. Latu and his twin brother, A.J. are cousins of former Arizona State defensive lineman, Paul 'Unga and some of their fondest memories growing up was seeing their cousin play at Sun Devils Stadium.
Latu is ranked the No. 37 recruit in California and the No. 14 linebacker in the country, one spot behind the aforementioned Cox.
Latu and Cox will be a great addition to one of the country's best linebacker corps joining Carl Bradford and Steffon Martin. I can only imagine the havoc that these monsters will wreak in 2013..
Arizona State needs wide receivers—desperately. After seeing their top three receivers get drafted after the 2011 season, the Sun Devils top receivers in the 2012 season were their tight end and two running backs. They have seen two more senior wide receivers leave after the 2012 season so they made the WR position a top priority.
They have received commitments from two highly touted recruits in Texas and Louisiana as well as two top-ranked junior college transfers from talent-rich Pierce Community College in Woodland Hills, CA.
Of the four incoming receivers, Ronald Lewis out of West Jefferson High School in Harvey, Louisiana will probably be an immediate starter for the Sun Devils. Lewis is the No. 56 receiver in the country according to Rivals.com and although four inches shorter than the other three incoming recruits, he is the fastest.
Lewis was heavily recruited in his home state of Louisiana by LSU, Tulane and La. Tech. Four schools from Texas and both Mississippi schools tried to snare Lewis as well as Nebraska and Illinois. Lewis chose Arizona State without visiting any schools so that tells me that he was immediately sold on the coaches and their discipline, not the campus and the lifestyle—a definite added bonus.
It's hard to say that any new player will start on the offensive line.The O-line is such a crucial piece to any offensive puzzle and teams need experience and camaraderie to succeed. Sophomore transfer student Josh Tremblay is good enough to say that he will start in his first game as a Sun Devil.
He is experienced and with the departure of two starting seniors, Tremblay will fit in nicely with returning starters Evan Finkenberg, Jamil Douglas and center Kody Koebensky.
Local Legend Priest Willis
The Sun Devils are holding out hope on some excellent 4-star talent that they have sent offers to attend the desert oasis.
Local legend defensive back Priest Willis attends school a couple miles south of campus, at Tempe's Marcos de Niza High School. The No. 2 ranked recruit in Arizona and the No. 10 ranked DB in the country according to Rivals.com would be a definite starter in Todd Graham's defense.
Staying within the metro Phoenix area, Graham and staff have offered a spot to 4-star receiver Devon Allen from Brophy Prep in downtown Phoenix. Allen is tall and fast and would fit in remarkably well in the offensive scheme of "Left Lane, Hammer Down."
Two other 4-star recruits that would make an immediate impact for the Sun Devils, if signed are Tight End Mitchell Parsons from Colorado. Parsons is the No. 2 recruit out of Colorado and would make a great addition using the two tight end package with Chris Coyle.
Lastly, there is a big guy from Hawaii, offensive guard Reeve Koehler. Koehler, like Parson is the No. 2 recruit in his respective state and will plug any hole nicely and do a great job with Finkenberg and company.
There were 20-plus players that wore a Sun Devil uniform for the first time in 2012 and only a handful made a dent in the play of Arizona State football. Notable exceptions were running back D.J. Foster, LB Carlos Mendoza and DL Jaxon Hood who had standout rookie seasons.
It would be nice to have such a talent-rich squad that the best new talent would want to come and learn and eventually play in the future.
Unfortunately, that isn't the case at Arizona State—not yet.