Signing day still light on local recruits for ASU, UA football

Now that the national signing day for college recruits has come and gone, we have a better idea of what kind of commitment Arizona’s Pac-12 coaches have to local athletes – a mantra they have repeated throughout their first year as head coaches.

For Arizona State‘s Todd Graham, that commitment appears to be 15 percent.  Graham added four local athletes to his recruiting class of 27.

Rich Rodriguez at University of Arizona reeled in five locals, but his smaller class of 23 gives him a 22 per cent reading on the ol’ commitment-o-meter.

Graham has been especially vocal about the commitment he and his staff have made to establishing personal contacts at the high school level in the state and beating the bushes for prospects in their own backyard.

“What’s our philosophy on recruiting?” Graham asked rhetorically at Wednesday’s signing-day press conference.  “Go from the inside out.  It’s to start right here in the Valley and build relationships.”

Similarly, Rodriguez has expressed his interest in mining the talent in the state, even hiring a well-respected high school coach to serve as a liaison with the prep programs.

The four local recruits added by ASU include: Chans Cox, a linebacker from Blue Ridge High School; Christian Westerman, a 300-pound offensive lineman from Hamilton High School; Grant Martinez, a 6’5″ tight end from Notre Dame Prep; and Kisima Jagne, a 265-pound defensive lineman from Chandler High School.

Westerman and Cox would have to be considered the biggest catches in the local net.

Westerman was the No. 1-ranked offensive guard ( and the No. 2 offensive tackle ( coming out of Hamilton High School in 2011, a starter on three consecutive state champion teams for the Chandler school.  He accepted a scholarship from Auburn, was redshirted in 2011, and played in just two games in 2012 due to injuries.

Now the five-star prospect out of high school has returned to Arizona to help Graham with his rebuilding program in Tempe.  He becomes one of the most highly-rated recruits ever to join the ASU program.

Cox is also considered a potential impact player right out of the chute, one of the most sought-after recruits in the state.  The 6’3″, 230-pound fullback also played linebacker at Blue Ridge. ranked him as the No. 1 fullback in the country and had him listed at the No. 13 linebacker.

“He chose ASU over just about every other college in the country,” says Graham, who pointed out his biggest competition for the youngster was Notre Dame.  “I think we signed the best player in the state that fits us.”

Graham’s second recruiting class was heavy on junior-college transfers, adding 10 this time around, which is nearly double what he would add in a normal year. ranks the Sun Devil class No. 27 nationally and has them at No. 28.  Both have them somewhere in the middle of the Pac-12 schools.

Meanwhile, the University of Arizona class gets an identical ranking from, but Rivals has them a little farther down the charts at No. 36.

The five local recruits include a pair from Tempe’s Marcos de Niza High School, both wide receivers, Paul Elvira and Mauriece Lee; Steven Gurrola, an offensive guard who will transfer in from Glendale Community College; DeAndre Miller, a linebacker from Buckeye Union High School; and Nate Phillips, another wide receiver, from Chandler High School.

Both coaches appear to be loading up for the passing game.  ASU added 10 wide receivers and Arizona has included six with this class.

Rodriguez is trying to solve some of his size issues with this recruiting class, loading up with guys like 6’7″, 325-pound offensive tackle Jacob Alsadek from San Diego and 330-pound David Maka, a defensive tackle from Tustin, Calif.

And he hopes to have added some depth at quarterback after the graduation of last year’s starter, Matt Scott.  Anu Solomon is a 6’1″ signal caller from Bishop Gorman High School in Nevada, who Rodriguez says  “may be one of the best high school quarterbacks, from a winning standpoint, in a long, long time.”

The 23 signees just about fill the roster for the Cats.  But Rodriguez says it was hard not to take all 23 because they were “our kind of guys.”  This is the first class that is all ‘his guys’ because last year the school had to honor commitments previously made under former head coach Mike Stoops.

“We honored those commitments,” he notes, “and added a few more.  Some of those guys contributed last year, and more will contribute this year.  This year, we had a longer time to evaluate to really fill our needs.

“I think this is a really good recruiting class.”

(Photo: Arizona Athletics)