Former five-star Westerman headed to ASU

Former Chandler Hamilton star and Auburn offensive lineman Christian Westerman, a redshirt freshman who was a five-star recruit in 2011, plans to transfer to Arizona State, Hamilton coach Steve Belles confirmed Friday, and the process has already begun.

Belles, who has been in regular contact with Westerman’s family, said Westerman made the decision to transfer because of changes at Auburn and a desire to be near home again.

“It was a little bit with the turnover in coaching and the fact they’re under (NCAA) investigation again,” Belles said. “And I think most importantly he just wanted to come back home. It wasn’t because of playing time or anything like that. The only reason he wasn’t starting the rest of the year was because he was injured or had something that was keeping him out.

“He just wanted to be home, and he wanted to be at ASU.”

Auburn fired coach Gene Chizik on Nov. 25 and last week introduced Gus Malzahn — ASU coach Todd Graham’s offensive coordinator at Tulsa in 2007 and 2008 — as his replacement. The NCAA is currently investigating Auburn over alleged recruiting violations.

If Auburn is hit with NCAA penalties, Westerman could be cleared of his

transfer restrictions and free to play at ASU immediately. Otherwise, he

would have to sit out a year and be eligible to play in 2013.

Auburn must grant Westerman release from his scholarship, and Belles said that has already occurred. Belles said he does not know if ASU has been in contact with Westerman yet.

“I’m pretty sure — as a matter of fact, I’m positive he’ll go on scholarship at ASU,” Belles said.

Westerman redshirted the 2011 season at Auburn before playing this year, starting one game. Should he be deemed eligible immediately, Westerman would join a deep group of young offensive line talents competing for starting spots next season.

Westerman was ranked as a five-star recruit and the No. 1 offensive guard in the nation by when he committed to Auburn. Belles coached Hamilton to three state titles during Westerman’s time at the school and believes Westerman will be a big boost for ASU.

“They’re getting a bulldozer,” Belles said. “Not only that but a kid who can run block as well as pass protect. He’s just one of those good athletes that plays an offensive line position. And he’s got a mean streak to him. On the field, if something gets his fuse a little bit, he’s a guy you don’t want angry, especially if he knows what he’s doing on the field.

“It’s kind of like getting a first-round draft pick, just a couple years late.”