As the calendar lists less than one month until National Letter of Intent signing day, the Arizona State Sun Devils have secured a total of 18 verbal commitments, including a pair of players that have already signed as midyear transfers.
Offensively, ASU has collected 13 of its 18 total commitments thus far, with a few select focal points remaining in its sights until Feb. 3 arrives.
With midyear transfer Peter Thomas—a four-star prospect that had been committed to ASU since the summer—recently reneging his commitment in order to attend Colorado State, the Sun Devils are left without a quarterback currently committed to the 2010 class.
Recent efforts have been made to lure in dual-threat athlete Kain Colter (6'1", 185 pounds) of Englewood, Colo., to Tempe after Colter de-committed from Stanford, however, the Devils face stiff competition from Northwestern, as well as Nebraska, to gain the services of Scout.com’s No. 46 national quarterback prospect. Colter officially reopened his recruitment at the end of December and has visited ASU and Northwestern, with a possible trip to Nebraska to come.
Other quarterbacks have been rumored to be gaining interest from the Sun Devils; however, no uncommitted prospects at the position hold an offer from ASU at this time.
Currently, three high school stud running backs have given their pledge to the maroon and gold, including local standout Taylor Walstad (5'11", 210 pounds) of Chandler High School, as well as two of California’s premier backs of 2009 in Deantre Lewis (5'10", 189 pounds) and Damien Williams (6'0", 205 pounds).
Many have inquired about the recruitment of four-star prospect James McConico, who holds an offer from ASU, among other prominent schools, but his collegiate career is expected to begin at the junior college level due to an insufficient academic standing.
The primary recruit remaining in ASU’s sights at running back is Kyle Middlebrooks (5'9", 176 pounds) of Fountain Valley (Calif.) High School, rated by Scout.com as a three-star prospect and the No. 105 national running back recruit. Also a track standout with 4.38-second 40-yard speed, Middlebrooks ran for 1,347 yards and 20 touchdowns this year.
Middlebrooks holds offers from several west coast universities, including Pac-10 foes Arizona, Washington, Washington State, and Utah, but he has publicly proclaimed he will play his college football in the state of Arizona, either with the Sun Devils or the Wildcats. To date, Middlebrooks has visited ASU, Arizona, Utah, and Washington, and has not set a specific timetable for his commitment.
At wide receiver, ASU has fully stocked the cupboard with its 2010 recruiting efforts by gaining commitments from a total of four athletes. This includes two junior college transfers, one of which has already signed and will be on campus for spring drills.
Four-star junior college standout George Bell (6'3", 195 pounds) substantiated his summer verbal commitment by signing a National Letter of Intent in December and will participate in spring drills, while fellow two-year player Mike Willie (6'4", 215 pounds) recently committed to the Sun Devils to join high school prospects Kevin Anderson (6'1", 185 pounds) and Randy Knust (6'3", 190 pounds) at wide receiver.
The sole remaining prospect ASU seemed to be targeting at wide receiver was four-star Paul Richardson (6'1", 175 pounds) of Gardena, Calif., who officially visited ASU with his cousin and three-star cornerback recruit Shaquille Richardson during ASU’s season finale against Arizona, but, as was generally expected, both Richardsons gave verbal commitments to UCLA shortly thereafter.
Though the position has deteriorated into a sizeable weakness, the Sun Devil staff has not placed a high priority on tight end recruitment during this cycle, though ASU was able to lock up its top target at the position in Phoenix’s Josh Fulton (6'5", 235 pounds), rated by Scout.com as the No. 14 national recruit at the position.
John Young (6'4", 250 pounds) of Loyola High School in Los Angeles, and the No. 23 national tight end recruit by Scout.com, was the only realistic option to be an additional tight end commitment to this year’s list after visiting in early October, but Young pulled the plug by pledging to UCLA in mid-November.
Though the Devils missed out on local standout offensive linemen Kody Innes (UCLA), Nick Rowland (Oregon), and Blair Tushaus (BYU), ASU has done an adequate job of stocking depth up front both for the long and short-term, especially compared to their securing only two offensive linemen to arrive in Tempe in last year’s class.
Chris DeArmas, a one-time signee of South Florida, signed with ASU in December and will be available for spring drills, where he will likely first see action at right guard in place of departed starter Brent Good, especially if would-be starter Zach Schlink is still physically unprepared for action after missing all of 2009 due to injury.
Aderious Simmons (6'7", 299 pounds), a raw yet mammoth tackle, will also join the Devils from the junior college ranks and will be counted on to likely replace stalwart left tackle Shawn Lauvao, while highly regarded guard Sil Ajawara (6'4", 305 pounds) and tackles Jamil Douglas (6'5", 250 pounds) and Tyler Sulka (6'5", 270 pounds) also stand on ASU’s commitment list.
The Sun Devils would like to add a third junior college offensive line commitment to this year’s crop, and with four-star, blue chip prospect Roszell Gayden signing with Auburn and Michael Hay choosing Syracuse, ASU would be elated to earn a commitment from four-star tackle John Cullen of Fullerton (Calif.) Junior College.
Cullen (6'6", 285 pounds), one of the nation’s premier junior college offensive linemen, visited ASU in early December, has also visited Oklahoma and Tennessee, and plans to check out Kansas State and Utah before making his decision. Most reports support that he is steadily favoring the Volunteers over all other suitors, much to the dismay of Sun Devil fans, as Cullen likely would be the perfect cornerstone to help solidify ASU’s line.
ASU has a better chance to land the efforts of Wade Yandall (6'5", 295 pounds) of Carson (Calif.) High School, rated the No. 54 offensive guard recruit by Scout.com. After having visited ASU, Arizona, UCLA, and Washington, Yandall likely will cast his vote between the Devils and the Bruins, while the Wildcats also remain relevant. Recent reports suggest that Yandall may be a UCLA lean and will make a decision soon.
Arizona high school football supporters question why guard Dylan Lusk (6'3", 294 pounds), of perennial powerhouse Peoria Centennial High School, has not been able to attract an offer from ASU, but those "in the know" insist that Lusk’s subpar camp performances under the watch of the Sun Devil staff removed him from ASU’s prospects list.
Rated the No. 39 offensive guard prospect by Scout.com, Lusk starred on both sides of the line during his prep career, and reportedly holds FBS offers from New Mexico State, UNLV, and Utah State, as well as a handful of FCS options.
If the Devils whiff on both Cullen and Yandall, other prospects could enter the fold in the final days, or the staff could just as easily call it a day with its current group of five offensive line additions.
In total, ASU is expected to accept five more commitments to its 2010 total, and while the staff’s remaining focus will primarily be on defensive recruits, there are integral undecided offensive prospects that are still considering the Sun Devils.
Of the group listed above, Middlebrooks and Yandall appear to be ASU’s most conceivable possibilities, as Colter and Cullen appear to be headed to Northwestern and Tennessee, respectively. If the Devils are unable to gain commitments from any of the aforementioned athletes, a series of last-minute options may be brought into the picture as Dennis Erickson and staff put the finishing touches on this year’s signing class.
For detailed, up-to-the-minute updates and insight on ASU recruiting and athletics, visit www.DevilsDigest.com .
Joe Healey is a 2006 graduate of Arizona State University and also writes for DevilsDigest.com, Maroon and Gold Illustrated, as well as official ASU football publications and is also involved with The Pat Tillman Foundation. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .