Arizona State Football: The Good and the Bad of National Signing Day
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National signing day came and went with a couple surprises and a couple disappointments for coach Todd Graham and the Arizona State Sun Devils.
On a day that took many in Sun Devil Nation on a roller-coaster ride, the Sun Devils ended up with a strong class of 27 bright young men. According to Scout.com, this class ranked as No. 32 in the nation and No. 5 in the Pac-12 Conference.
The day started off with some disappointments, including the strange saga of Tre'vell Dixon.
Dixon originally committed to the Nebraska Cornhuskers back in January of last year, decommitted in July and committed again to Nebraska in January of this year. Last Friday, Dixon shocked everybody by announcing that he was going to sign with Arizona State come national signing day—he signed with Nebraska.
The next hit came from 4-star Joshua Dobbs from Alpharetta, Georgia.
The 6'3", 190-pound quarterback was one of the Sun Devils' early signees from last summer. Dobbs was ranked as high as the No. 12 quarterback in the country by Scout.com and No. 20 by Rivals.com. He made his official visit to Tempe on Jan. 18 and quietly visited the University of Tennessee the following weekend.
When national signing day arrived, Dobbs signed with Tennessee, despite the best efforts of Graham and recruiter Mike Norvell to keep him.
Upon learning of Dobbs' last-minute flip, Arizona State then focused on getting a last-minute flip of their own in local quarterback, Tyler Bruggman.
Bruggman, who had committed to Washington State, was said to be on-the-fence when it came to signing with the Cougars and was 15 minutes late to the Brophy College Prep signing party where Devon Allen signed with Oregon and four others signed to Yale, Wyoming and Florida Atlantic. Upon arrival, he had a Washington State hat in hand and signed with the Cougars, keeping his commitment to coach Mike Leach.
Now on to the good news.
There were a couple "flips" that went in the Sun Devils' favor, but none with as much impact as that of Marcus Ball of Westerville, Ohio.
There has been much confusion when it comes to Ball and the University of Wisconsin. Marcus Ball is not the younger brother of running back Montee Ball as many have stated, but rather the brother of Ray Ball, the Badgers' offensive lineman.
Marcus Ball committed to Wisconsin back in November but decided to explore his options after head coach Bret Bielema left the Badgers.
The 3-star Ball was ranked as the No. 24 athlete by Rivals.com and can play both sides of the ball. He is listed as a safety on the Sun Devils roster but is a true athlete including scoring a school-record 43 points in a basketball game the night before he signed with the Devils.
Westerville provided an interesting tidbit about Ball's high school basketball coach.
Marcus' HSBB coach, @coachcalo, grew up with Arizona St Head Coach Sendek in Pittsburgh, PA. It's something to consider as Marcus had 43 LN— Westerville South BB (@SouthBasketball) February 6, 2013
With the much-improved Sun Devil basketball squad, Ball can follow in the footsteps of senior hoopster Carrick Felix who has been signed to the Boston Red Sox.
A "delayed flip," if you will, came with the signing of defensive lineman Kisima Jagne from local Chandler High School. Jagne graduated in 2012 and signed with the University of Colorado last February. He opted to delay his enrollment at CU and enrolled at Arizona State in January 2013.
Coach Graham said, "He's one of the most dynamic players that I've seen on the film and how he fits our system. Another guy that we think is explosive."
Also returning home is offensive lineman Christian Westerman, who signed with the Auburn Tigers in 2011.
Westerman redshirted in 2011 and was limited in 2012 due to injury. The list of accolades for Westerman are numerous, including the No. 1 recruit from Arizona, the No. 1 offensive guard in the country and the No. 17 overall player by Scout.com.
It is unknown if Westerman will have to sit out this season due to transfer rules. He could play if Auburn is hit with sanctions.
Jagne and Westerman are two of four recruits who enrolled in January at Arizona State and will participate in spring drills. Also enrolled are offensive lineman Nick Kelly and linebacker Chans Cox.
Cox, the 6'3", 230-pound athlete, excelled at Blue Ridge High in Lakeside, Arizona, as both a linebacker and running back.
Cox was ranked by Rivals.com as the No. 3 recruit out of Arizona, the No. 13 linebacker in the country and the No. 151 recruit overall. On the other side, Scout.com rated him as the No. 1 fullback in the county and the No. 148 recruit overall.
He is listed on the Arizona State roster as a linebacker, but his ability to come in on short yardage situations is intriguing.
Coach Graham said about Cox:
He chose ASU over just about every other college in the country; Notre Dame was one that was the biggest competition. I think we signed the best player in the state that fits us, and that's Chans Cox. I'm very excited about him. He has unbelievable athleticism and the biggest thing is the character of this man and the leadership that he provides. He epitomizes everything we want in a player.
There were no other surprises on Wednesday as Arizona State ended up signing 16 members to the defense, 10 to the offense and punter Matt Haack.
All things considered, this was a good class for coach Todd Graham, as nine players signed were listed in the top 40 of their position and seven junior college transfers were listed in the top 100 available, including 4-star defensive lineman Marcus Hardison, who was No. 5 in the country.
Coach Graham had this to say about Hardison:
Marcus is one of the top defensive ends in America. He's a guy that our fans are going to love in a hurry. The thing that attracted him was that we are one of the best in the country at getting after the quarterback. We think he'll have immediate impact here.
Other top names in the recruiting class are twin linebackers from Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., Viliami and A.J. Latu.
The twins were co-defensive players of the year in California, and Coach Graham said "Many of the high school coaches we talked to over there thought we got two of the best players in Southern California in the Latu brothers."
Countless hours and tons of research went into this year's recruiting class, but it is unlikely that more than a handful of the 27 will get an immediate start with the Sun Devils, That's okay.
As long as the Sun Devils have a strong stable of players from which to draw, Coach Graham can't go wrong.
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