Sun Devils lose QB, load up on JC talent
Arizona State loaded up on junior college talent in coach Todd
Graham’s second recruiting class, but the Sun Devils lost the star
high school quarterback they thought they were going to get.
Joshua Dobbs had verbally committed to Arizona State, but at the
last minute changed his mind and signed with Tennessee, leaving the
Sun Devils without a quarterback recruit for the second year in a
Graham didn’t talk about Dobbs by name but said the plan was to
bring in a quarterback and that changed on Wednesday.
”It’s a tough deal, it’s a tough process,” Graham said. ”In a
lot ways the process is out of hand in how it goes, but you end up
getting what you’re supposed to. There’s nothing about recruiting
that’s fair, but all you can do is know how we’re going to do it,
and we’re going to do things with class and character.”
He noted the team has three quarterbacks returning – starter
Taylor Kelly, Michael Eubank and Mike Bercovici.
”We’re fine, more than fine, we’re great at that position,”
Graham said, ”but it is something that we’ll look at to bring
somebody in here, whether it be next year or in the meantime, I
don’t know yet. Obviously, that’s something that developed today.
We wanted to sign one and we didn’t.”
The 27 Arizona State recruits included 10 from junior colleges,
headed by defensive lineman Marcus Hardison of Dodge City Community
College. The list of freshman recruits was topped by linebacker
Chans Cox of Blue Ridge High in Lakeside, Ariz.
Graham made no apologies for dipping so strongly into the junior
college ranks. He said a normal year might have six JC recruits
with this year’s figure skewed by need.
”I think we can sign the best junior college players in the
country, and why not?” he said. ”I think the best junior colleges
in America are in California and Arizona and we think that’s a
formula that can be successful for us.”
Hardison, 6-foot-5 and 290 pounds, was rated the No. 14 overall
and third-best defensive lineman in junior college nationwide by
”Marcus is one of the top defensive ends in America,” Graham
said, ”a guy that our fan base is going to love in a hurry. The
thing that attracted him is that we’re one of the best in the
country in getting after the quarterback.”
Hardison reportedly had offers from Baylor, Kansas State,
Florida State, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, among others. He
verbally committed to Arizona State three weeks ago.
Another JC transfer lauded by Graham is wide receiver Jaelen
Strong, who comes from Philadelphia via Pierce College. Strong sat
out the 2011 season and has three years of eligibility remaining.
Strong is joined at Arizona State by Pierce teammate wide receiver
Among the freshman recruits are brothers Alani and Viliami Latu,
both linebackers from Rancho Cucamonga High School. On Wednesday
morning, safety Marcus Ball from Westerville, Ohio, announced he
had selected Arizona State over Wisconsin. Ball had verbally
committed to the Badgers but withdrew the commitment when Wisconsin
had a change in coaches.
Graham praised Cox as an extremely talented young player who
never wavered in his commitment, despite later interest from
big-time programs, including Notre Dame. The 6-3, 230-pound
linebacker fits the Arizona State mold as an attacking
”A guy that epitomizes what we want as a football player,”
In fact, defense was the theme of the day for the Arizona State
coach, who guided the Sun Devils to an 8-5 record in his first
season. Fifteen of the recruits are penciled in on defense, helping
to make up for 16 the team loses to graduation next year, Graham
On offense, there were five wide receivers in the recruiting
class, two of them – Ellis Jefferson (Denton) and Cameron Smith
(Copell) – from Texas.
Graham said he knows the program needs to do better in-state but
said that he and his staff have vastly improved relations with the
state’s high school coaches and that improvement in that area takes
The school did nab 6-5, 265-pound defensive lineman Kisima Jagne
from Chandler and tight end Grant Martinez from Notre Dame Prep in
The biggest, literally and perhaps in other ways, is 6-4,
303-pound offensive guard Christian Westerman from Hamilton High in
Chandler. He was considered the top recruit in the state two years
ago. He signed with Auburn but has transferred back home.