ASU Football: Sun Devils Invade Sports School of the Century in USC's Backyard

Kristian SiutaCorrespondent IIApril 10, 2011

TEMPE, AZ - NOVEMBER 26:  Head coach Dennis Erickson of the Arizona State Sun Devils talks with Rick Neuheisel of the UCLA Bruins before the college football game at Sun Devil Stadium on November 26, 2010 in Tempe, Arizona.  The Sun Devils defeated the Bruins 55-34.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Throughout Dennis Erickson’s four seasons in Tempe, fans could point to a handful of memorable victories, both on the road and at home. However, some of Erickson’s most memorable moments have occurred along the recruiting trail.

With Erickson’s first recruiting class in 2007, former recruiting coordinator, Matt Lubick, spearheaded a push to invade Southern California’s Inland Empire.

Most notably, Erickson and Lubick established a pipeline at Corona Centennial High School and rival Norco High School.

Each Sun Devil game, when a highlight reel play is made, there is a pretty good chance the spotlight will find a product from the Inland Empire and the 909 area code.

With a fertile recruiting ground less than five hours away, Erickson’s staff jumped into their cars and sought out some of Southern California’s finest prep athletes.

Without the talents of Omar Bolden, Vontaze Burfict, Garth Gerhart, Deantre Lewis, and Brandon Magee, it is difficult to comprehend where ASU’s football program would currently stand.

Following national signing day in February, Erickson continued his successful prowess in the Inland Empire reeling in the likes of dual-threat quarterback Michael Eubank and offensive lineman Brent Walker.

Although, the Corona-Norco pipeline is alive and well, Erickson is expanding his reach, further and further, into Southern California.

The area of interest: Long Beach, CA.

If the names DeSean Jackson, Marcedes Lewis, Willie McGinist, and Darnell Bing, among countless others, are familiar to you, that is because each player starred at Sports Illustrated’s “Sports School of the Century,” at Long Beach Polytechnic.

The one high school that every coach across the country, not just in the Pacific 12 conference, wants to establish a running pipeline through would undoubtedly be Long Beach Poly.

USC and UCLA have battled for the best Jackrabbits over the past decade, but after Erickson’s fruitful week, both the Bruins and Trojans have stiff competition in their local recruiting hotbed.

The Sun Devils received four commitments from Poly products this past week. Three of the prep stars are wide receivers; a position that features five seniors this fall.

ASU’s other oral commitment from Long Beach Poly came by way of Salamo Fiso, an outside linebacker who likely will move inside upon arriving in Tempe and fill in behind Burfict.

With these early commitments, there is no doubt that the Sun Devils are building momentum on all fronts, and are emerging as a trendy school.

After finishing the season with a bang against UCLA and Arizona, the Sun Devils are poised for a breakout season in 2011. With an upcoming Athletic Department unveiling in regards to new branding and logo modifications, all hands are on deck.

The results off of the field have been fruitful thus far in the spring, but ultimately, the results on the gridiron next fall will determine if these recruits stay committed to the maroon and gold or not.

Early pledges by recruits have sparked interest in the past, only to spurn the Devils at the eleventh hour. However, with player and name recognition associated with “Long Beach Poly,” fans in the desert have to sense the tide is turning. 

Even recently pinpointed ASU as an up-and-coming school for the 2012 recruiting class stating, “I don’t know if it’s a trendy school with recruits or if Arizona State will be able to continue this success on the recruiting trail, but the Sun Devils have done an outstanding job so far in Southern California.”

Adam Gorney of continued, “It's a long way until National Signing Day but Dennis Erickson and his staff have a significant jump on the 2012 (recruiting) class in California.”

In the past, Sun Devil coaches tried to just get in the door of elite recruits. Now, after four years of building, Erickson and his staff are receiving commitments from those same players.

After all, no one thought it was going to be easy to build a dominant program. With Erickson at the helm, eventually, a shinning light would emerge.

No one thought the shinning light would emerge from one of the most famous high schools in the country, Long Beach Poly.