2011 class reflects turbulent recruiting cycle
Meet the Class of 2011
By Hod Robino
February 3, 2011
It was known well before February 2 that the Sun Devils' 2011 recruiting class was going to be small in volume, so getting 14 signees in this group didn't catch anyone by surprise.
On the other hand, a national ranking of 67th and placing near last in the Pac-12? That was an unpleasant shocker, to say the least.
The class ultimately had five defections of players previously committed to ASU and only one four-star recruit, QB Michael Eubank, who had Sun Devil nation nervous until he faxed in his letter of intent late Wednesday morning.
The state of Arizona was filled with more quality prospects than in any other year in recent memory, yet you would have to scroll down all the way to Scout.com's 12th-best player in the state, DT Mo Latu, in order to locate an ASU pledge.
ASU's lack of success the last three seasons and question marks surrounding head coach Dennis Erickson's future were fueling the negative recruiting that the maroon and gold had to endure from their own backyard to a couple of time zones away.
The 2011 season may ultimately go down as one of the best in ASU's history if the team lives up to the accolades many pundits are already bestowing.
The 2011 recruiting class, at least for now, will have to live in infamy.
Without a doubt, Corona Centennial QB Michael Eubank. He's asily the highest-rated player in this group and one with loads of potential as the proverbial dual-threat signal caller.
"What can you say? He's 6'5", 230 pounds, and he can run and throw," said coach Dennis Erickson. "He was kind of a guy who was a sleeper early on in recruiting, just because he hadn't played a lot. As time went on, we were one of the first ones to offer him, and then all of a sudden there were a bunch of people offering him. To me, one quarterback might be worth two or three recruits, depending on how good they are."
Easy selection here, too, with LB Kipeli Koniseti. The Sacramento Grant QB was recruited as a linebacker and signed with ASU in 2009. Since he qualified too late, he had to attend a junior college, College of the Sequoias, for one year, where the 6-3, 240-pound athletic specimen was able to showcase his prowess at linebacker.
"He's going to be a middle linebacker," Erickson commented. "He can come in and learn that position. He's athletic, he can run, and he's a 240-pound middle linebacker. We're excited about him."
Defensive end Sean O'Grady is one of the lowest-rated recruits in this class, yet the Sun Devil skipper feels that the 6-3, 230-pound Tesoro High School standout can and will surprise any doubters.
"Probably didn't get as much publicity as some of the other people," Erickson acknowledged, "but we've been watching him for a long time. In my home visit, he was 245 pounds. He's a guy who wanted to come here. He committed to us early and then just worked on getting better. He can run. If you watch him on tape, he's a darn good football player."
MEETING A NEED
It's very unlikely that any member of the class will be able to claim a starting position in 2011. The lone exception is Scottsdale Community College punter Josh Hubner, who is the only scholarship player at his position and is pretty much guaranteed to run with the first team.
"You have to have a punter," Erickson said of the 6-4, 225-pound Hubner. "If you don't, you have problems. He was a guy from here, and he has a strong leg. We're excited about him."
Wide receiver: Gary Chambers is ranked 257th at his position and was supposed to be grayshirted (where a player gets a scholarship after one semester). This was done with the thought that the Sun Devils were going to add one or two high-caliber wideouts in this class who may have been able to contribute this year.
Alas, Chambers is the lone WR in the class, and ASU's top three wide receivers (Gerell Robinson, Mike Willie and Aaron Pflugrad) are all seniors. This puts undue pressure on the 2012 class, which now has to include more wide receivers than planned. Frequently in recruiting, the more players you recruit at one position in the same class, the higher the risk in compromising overall quality.
ONES THAT GOT AWAY
In terms of previously committed players who ended up pledging elsewhere, LB Gionni Paul from Lakeland, Fla., was probably second only to Eubank in this class in terms of stature. Paul stayed close to home and signed with the University of Miami, leaving ASU to scramble for solutions at his position.
As far as uncommitted prospects, ASU appeared to be in great position to land a pair of local four-star players in DT Todd Peat and OL Cyrus Hobbi. But they chose Nebraska and USC, respectively, adding to the collective frustration of not being able to keep the elite Phoenix-area prospects at home.
Scout.com's southwest recruiting analyst Jason Jewell had this to say on ASU's 2011 recruiting class:
"Overall, Arizona State's signing day class was small, with just 14 overall and five signatures coming from local prospects. The biggest player -- literally and probably the most heavily recruited -- was Gilbert Perry's Mo Latu. The 6-3, 310-pounder played center in the Under Armour All-American game but could also have a future along the defensive line.
"Another two-way player the Devils got a late commitment out of was OL/DL Vi Teofilo from Phoenix Moon Valley. Teofilo may have the most upside of any of the local prospects signed. He is big, strong and an accomplished wrestler. His future is likely along the offensive line, and he should flourish now that he will focus on one spot.
"Punter Josh Hubner from Scottsdale Community College filled a huge need with Trevor Hankins' departure. Hubner had an All-American freshman year for the Artichokes, averaging well over 40 yards per punt in 2009. The numbers dropped a bit in 2010, but he is a technically sound punter that kicks with good hang time and can place the ball nearly anywhere on the field.
"Israel 'Izzy' Marshall from Phoenix Mountain Pointe could play safety or bulk up and play outside linebacker. He is long, runs very well, is an explosive tackler and makes plays all over the field. He's also a very high-character kid.
"Big wide receiver Gary Chambers from Glendale Ironwood signed with this class but may be classified as grayshirted and not enroll until the following January. He doesn't possess great speed but is a big physical player that is not afraid to go across the middle and will go up and get the ball."
For a full list of ASU's 2011 commitments, click here