ASU Football: College Athletes Retiring Opens Up Doors for New Recruits

Kristian SiutaCorrespondent IIMarch 3, 2011

TEMPE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 04:  Head coach Dennis Erickson of the Arizona State Sun Devils congratulates teammates after the Sun Devils scored a touchdown during the college football game against the Portland State Vikings at Sun Devil Stadium on September 4, 2010 in Tempe, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

On National Letter of Intent day, back in February, many predicted a small recruiting class of, maybe, 15 future Arizona State Sun Devils. Now, as the calendar has flipped to March, Dennis Erickson will usher in 18 fresh faces.

Even as signing day unfolded, Erickson believed he would sign one or two more recruits. However, not many predicted ASU would sign a recruiting class that large, but no one envisioned the Sun Devils replacing two-scholarship quarterbacks, either. 

Both Samson Szakacsy and ten-game starting quarterback, Steven Threet, left the program shortly after the 2010 season. In each case, the scenarios that impacted their ultimate decisions were justified.

Szakacsy turned, once again, to music to fulfill his life after constant elbow issues. But people close to Samson and the football program know that is not unfamiliar territory for the California native.

With three records available for purchase on iTunes, he was a performer in his rare appearances on the field, and will continue to do so off the field.

In some cases, Szakacsy and his acoustic guitar put on memorable shows in the Sun Devils’ locker room; including one free-style session with former Sun Devil quarterback Rudy Carpenter and then-freshman Bo Moos.

Comic relief was officially redefined at that moment. 

For Steven Threet, aspirations were sky high when the Michigan transfer arrived in Tempe. Thoughts of a future NFL career were in his sights, and Erickson’s offense was slated to be the catalyst.

In the end, lingering concussion symptoms forced ASU’s offensive leader to hang up the Nike cleats, earlier than anyone had in mind.

Erickson has become all too familiar with college athletes retiring due to injury. This past fall, Otis Jones, Zack Schlink, and Matt Hustad cut their careers short because of reoccurring knee complications. Both Schlink and Hustad were expected to be starters or, at the very least, key contributors.  

But it was not all bad for ASU in the injury department this season. Maroon and gold supporters rose to their feet at Frank Kush Field, as John Hargis returned to the gridiron vs. Washington State after tearing ligaments in his knee during last spring.  

Six months after the horrendous injury, Hargis returned in valiant fashion.

With the addition of three new recruits after signing day, Sun Devil fans will hope for healthier careers than previous bright-eyed newcomers. It is apparent that Erickson already has one keen eye on filling in areas of need with these new signees.

ASU will be forced to replace five wide receivers after next season’s matriculation. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

After all, the 2010 season and all of the Sun Devils’ shortcomings that unfolded on Saturday’s are nothing more than a memory. March 22nd is the opening of spring practice.

Intense observers will be on hand to catch their first glimpse of what to expect for the 2011 season. Perhaps, all the heightened expectations and optimism of past spring workouts, will continue to hold true.

The objective moving forward for ASU will be to live up to all the hype on the field during the fall.