National Signing Day ushers in a new season of college football and with that, a new crop of young talent to call your own. Dennis Erickson announced 14 new members of the Arizona State football community this afternoon.
A recruiting class to replace 13 outgoing seniors was expected to be small, and the total remained as such. However, Erickson managed to fit in a few game-changers, heavy-hitting defenders, some beef on the lines and, of course, the speed demons.
As the recruiting process unfolded, some elite in-state recruits courted the Sun Devils long enough to push them aside during highly-anticipated press conferences; others never gave ASU the time of day. All together, the Sun Devils received letters of intent from five Arizona prospects.
But once again, the big name of Erickson's recruiting class comes by way of Centennial High School in Corona, CA. After successfully recruiting ball-hawking linebackers from the southern section powerhouse, ASU found a prolific athlete named Michael Eubank.
Centennial High School (Corona, CA)
Normally, the signal-caller who leads their team to 24 wins in two seasons is loaded with offers from across the country. For Michael Eubank, entering his senior season at Centenial, the only offer in his hand was from Nevada-Las Vegas.
Needless to say, Erickson was impressed by the maturing senior, and a scholarship was officially extended to Eubank.
Eubank's numbers separate him from the prototypical drop back passers in California, like Max Wittek from Mater Dei, or even Michael Bercovici, who signed with ASU and is already enrolled in Tempe.
Throughout Eubank's high school career, the Centennial standout passed for 3,954 yards and 31 touchdowns, while adding 1,678 yards on the ground, with 24 rushing touchdowns.
Eubank was the leader of Matt Logan's Husky offense, and Erickson will look for much of the same production once he dons the maroon and gold.
Offensive Lineman—Vivii or Vi Teofilo
Moon Valley High School (Phoenix, AZ)
In what was predicted to be a bountiful recruiting class for Arizona prep linemen, the first local lineman to commit to Arizona State was Vi Teofilo. At 6'3", 290 pounds, Teofilo fits the mold of a powerful road grader in Noel Mazzone's spread offense.
Teofilo was named to the All-Region team as both a junior and senior for Moon Valley. As well as excelling on the gridiron, Teofilo was a state champion heavyweight wrestler.
Although the Sun Devils are returning all five starting offensive linemen from 2010, building depth on the offensive line is the foundation of a solid football program.
Teofilo can play both guard or tackle, so his flexibility will be useful in the future.
Defensive Tackle—Mo Latu
Perry High School (Gilbert, AZ)
Once three-year starting defensive tackle, Lawrence Guy, opted to forgo his senior season in Tempe for the almighty dollar sign in the NFL, the Sun Devil coaching staff knew defensive line depth was a critical area of need.
ASU did not have to look far to find their latest run stopper. At 6'3", 310 pounds, Latu already has the size to cause fits in opposing teams' backfields.
With the ability to both stuff the run with his strength and put immense heat on the quarterback with agility and speed, Latu will fight for immediate playing time on ASU's top-tier defense.
After compiling 50 total tackles, three sacks, three interceptions, one fumble recovery and one safety, Sun Devil fans will adore watching Latu on Frank Kush Field come this fall.
Linebacker—Israel or Izzy Marshall
Mountain Pointe High School (Phoenix, AZ)
Erickson has the comfort of returning all three starting linebackers from the 2010 squad, but Israel Marshall is a nice addition. An athletic, bone-jarring safety in high school, Marshall will start out as an outside linebacker for Craig Bray's defense.
At first glance at ASU's depth chart following the 2011 season, major holes cannot be overlooked after Brandon Magee, Shelly Lyons, Colin Parker, Oliver Aaron and Derrall Anderson graduate.
Also, the 2011 season is widely considered Vontaze Burfict's last season in Tempe, as the soon-to-be junior is already considered a late first-round draft pick.
Acquiring a linebacker in this recruiting class was imperative. To sign a player with the skill set and speed Marshall possesses was an added bonus.
Wide Receiver—Gary Chambers
Ironwood High School (Glendale, AZ)
The Sun Devils had a stellar offensive outburst under new offensive coordinator, Noel Mazzone, but all season long, ASU seemed to miss out on the big plays down the field. Perhaps that pitfall has been solidified with the signing of 6'3", 195 pound wide receiver, Gary Chambers.
Although the Glendale native was not highly recruited, the Sun Devils saw the big-play ability in Chambers. Earning All-Region accolades as both a junior and senior, Chambers caught 14 touchdown passes in two seasons for Ironwood High.
With all starting wide receivers returning, aside from the graduating Kerry Taylor, the Sun Devils look to have all the pieces in place to compete for a Pac-12 championship in 2011. However, if there is a need for speed, and sure hands down the field, Marshall might see action in Tempe earlier rather than later.
Denver East High School (Denver, CO)
At first glance, Ezekial Bishop might not stand out as a big time hitter with his 5'10", 185-pound frame, but if you have seen any of his highlights, he packs a heavy punch. Erickson compared the new signee to current Sun Devil safety, Eddie Elder.
Both Elder and Bishop are a similar size, and they both play with a similar style as well. A fear of impact or collision is not an issue with Bishop. Contact is what he seeks out.
After being committed to Arizona since the summer, Dennis Erickson managed to get Bishop to visit the Tempe campus, and the rest, as they say, is history.
It will not be long before fans inside Sun Devil Stadium start falling in love with Bishop's style either.
Offensive Lineman—Devin Goodman
Lakeland Senior High School (Lakeland, FL)
Building towards a conference championship is constructed from the ground up. In football, developing a competitive and deep football team on both sides of the line of scrimmage is a must. Erickson's recruiting class included three offensive linemen including Devin Goodman.
Although no one wants to separate the best from the rest already, but if one had to be declared the top dog of this class, look no further than Goodman.
The 6'3", 285-pound Goodman has the ability to play either guard or center for the Sun Devils. ASU's coaches recruited Florida much harder than in years past, and at one point obtained verbal commitments from two other Tampa prep prospects.
Goodman was the lone Florida recruit to sign with the Sun Devils, but with future success, a pipeline in the Sunshine state has been developed for future recruiting.
Defensive Line—David Moala
Junipero Serra High School (Gardena, CA)
In the world of recruiting, the main objective is to fill areas of need, replenish depth and find breakout stars. David Moala checks each of those with one scholarship.
Although the recruiting rankings only list Moala as a 2-star prospect, Dennis Erickson compared the Serra Cavalier to a current Sun Devil and former Pac-10 freshman selection, Will Sutton.
Sutton was also a lightly recruited prospect from Centennial High School (Corona, CA), who was thought to be a product of the athleticism around him.
Moala prepped at a Serra, a Catholic high school that has won 52 games in four seasons, including victories over local powers Oaks Christian, Taft and Notre Dame. Most notably, Serra has produced 5-star caliber talent, such as Pac-10 Offensive Freshman of the Year Robert Woods, starring at schools like USC, CAL, Colorado and now ASU.
Next fall, the Sun Devils will no longer have the luxury of All-Conference performers Sai'a Falahola and Lawrence Guy. At 6'1", 285 pounds, Moala could see action as a freshman, perhaps even next to Will Sutton.
Defensive Line—Sean O'Grady
Tesoro High School (Las Flores, CA)
"We've had our eyes on Sean since his sophomore year...He wanted to be a Sun Devil since Day 1." As a fan, it is nice to feel wanted, and Sean O'Grady wanted to play at Sun Devil Stadium.
O'Grady played defensive end for Tesoro head coach Brian Barnes, who is the older brother of former ASU walk-on quarterback Jimmy Barnes. At Tesoro, O'Grady totaled 103 tackles and 16.5 sacks in two seasons.
O'Grady has the speed and size to cause havoc on the edge. Erickson said that O'Grady's weight has already pushed close to 245 when the two met during the in-home visit.
Perhaps O'Grady will push the veterans for playing time during fall camp?
Lakewood High School (Lakewood, CA)
The Long Beach (CA) area has been a hotbed for college recruiters since the mid 90s, and that trend has never stopped. Rashad Wadood starred at both running back and cornerback for the Lakewood Lancers.
With 4.49 speed, it is not surprising that Wadood was utilized in any capacity possible. After running that fast, Miami and Colorado were begging Wadood to enroll at their school.
Instead Erickson picked up another athlete with tremendous speed, solid coverage skills and a nose for the football. Wadood totaled 77 tackles and six interceptions on top of being Lakewood's starting running back.
Wadood also has experience as a "giant killer" in football. In Southern California, Long Beach Poly has typically been king of high school football and the Moore League.
In 2009, Lakewood beat Long Beach Poly and won the Moore League for the first time ever. That "giant killer" mentality will be put to good use in Tempe.
Offensive Line—Brent Walker
Norco High School (Norco, CA)
Another year, another recruiting class, and another recruit from Inland Empire powerhouse Norco High School. Norco has traditionally been a ground and pound style of offense with powerful running backs, most notably Toby Gerhart, but recently, the Cougars operated with a wide-open spread offense.
Brent Walker will be the sixth Norco product to compete in the maroon and gold, joining fellow offensive linemen Garth Gerhart, Adam Tello and Kyle Johnson.
At 6'5", 300 pounds, Walker has the ideal size for protecting the quarterback and opening up huge holes for former Norco running back and current Sun Devil Deantre Lewis.
William Howard Taft High School (Woodland Hills, CA)
* (Enrolled early and will compete during spring drills)
A product of one of the top Los Angeles City Section football schools, Taft High, Bercovic comes to Tempe with high marks. Originally, the Calabasas native began his career at Westlake High School, the same school Rudy Carpenter starred at in 2003, but made a name for himself upon transferring.
After sitting out his junior season at Taft, Bercovici led the City Section in total offense, passing yards and total points. Bercovici compiled 3,775 passing yards and 37 touchdowns, while only throwing nine interceptions.
Bercovici was ranked as the No. 14 pro-style quarterback in the country and is considered to have the strongest arm of any quarterback prospect in 2011.
Spring practices will be interesting with Bercovici grasping the Sun Devils' offense and competing with current ASU quarterbacks Brock Osweiler, Steven Threet and Taylor Kelly.
Scottsdale Community College (Scottsdale, AZ)
* (Enrolled early and will compete during Spring drills)
Another area of need was special teams. ASU lost both their kicker and punter from the 2010 season. So, when Erickson needed a new punter, he returned to the spot that landed him his previous kicking specialist: Scottsdale CC.
Josh Hubner graduated from Desert Mountain High School (Scottsdale, AZ) in 2009, where he earned All-State recognition from the Arizona Republic. This past season for Scottsdale CC, Hubner was named a second team All-American punter while averaging 40.2 yards a punt.
After earning a scholarship, Hubner will be expected to continue his punting success for the maroon and gold.
College of the Sequoias/Grant Union High School (Sacramento, CA)
* (Four years to play three)
As the 2009 recruiting cycle neared the final hours, ASU offered a star athlete from Grant Union High School. This athlete could do it all, signal-calling, passing, running, tackling, stripping the football and kicking.
Kipeli Koniseti could do it all in high school. He even managed to lead Grant Union to a California State Championship victory over Long Beach Poly in 2008.
After grades and test scores held Koniseti back from joining the Sun Devils earlier, junior college was the only option to keep playing football. Koniseti's will to win never faltered.
Two recruiting classes later, Koniseti still has a spot on Erickson's team. Now, Koniseti has bulked up to 230 pounds and will look to make noise at Sun Devil Stadium.