Native Texan and Arizona State Sun Devils head coach Todd Graham knows the importance of the Lone Star State in college football recruiting.
“Our No. 1 recruiting area is right here in Arizona, and then California. That’s our base recruiting area,” Graham said in his press conference Monday per TheSunDevils.com. "The next area we go to is Texas.”
Saturday in Arlington against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Graham has an opportunity to plant his No. 22-ranked program’s flag with a pitchfork, right in the heart of Texas.
Notre Dame is the last contest in a potentially season-defining stretch for the Sun Devils. In some ways, the Fighting Irish are the most significant of Arizona State’s four opponents in this early run that also included Wisconsin, Stanford and USC.
“This is an opportunity for our players. I talked to them [Sunday] about making history,” Graham said. “[Arizona State] could be the first team in the history of college football to beat USC and Notre Dame on back-to-back weeks.”
In addition to history, the Sun Devils have an opportunity to reach a broad national audience through Notre Dame’s NBC broadcast. AT&T Stadium also further solidifies Arizona State's presence in a rich recruiting pipeline.
Texas already plays an integral role in Graham’s recruiting strategy. Three verbal commits in the Sun Devils’ 2014 class hail from there, according to Rivals.com: defensive back Chad Adams and linebacker Christian Sam from Allen, and wide receiver Nick Alexander from Lancaster.
Per 247Sports.com, Arizona State is also in the hunt for Texas JUCO products Will Coleman (defensive end; Tyler CC) and Carter Wall (offensive tackle, Navarro CC).
Graham’s crafting of the 2014 crop continues a trend, as his first two signing classes included seven Texas prospects combined.
Among them is 2012 signee and senior running back Marion Grice. With 12 total touchdowns on the year, Grice is the focal point of the Sun Devil spread offense and a vital cog in Saturday's game plan.
Grice also indirectly played a role in the recruiting process at Monday’s press conference, unveiling the program’s new look.
The uniform is an increasingly significant incentive to offer prospects. Not content to let Notre Dame hog the proverbial runway with its Shamrock Series uniform, Arizona State is using Saturday’s platform to debut flame-accented threads and a unique, flame-design helmet.
The introductory video via TheSunDevils.com strategically shows the team's many uniforms before senior defensive tackle Will Sutton dons the new gear.
The Sun Devils’ trip to North Texas coincides with the Denver Broncos facing the Dallas Cowboys that same weekend. Former Arizona State quarterback Brock Osweiler and defensive back Omar Bolden will be in town—perhaps a visit to the Sun Devil sideline can serve as an example of the program’s road map for reaching the NFL.
Kyle Kensing is the Pac-12 Lead Writer. All quotes were obtained firsthand, unless otherwise noted. Follow Kyle on Twitter: @kensing45.