There has been another recruiting raid into the Arizona high schools. And another high-profile football program was the target – again.
This incursion into the prep game wasn’t about a four-star prospect, but rather the coach of one of the state’s most successful football programs. Arizona State has just hired Conrad Hamilton, the head coach at Scottsdale’s Chaparral High School, to be its senior defensive analyst.
Hamilton is the second coach in recent years hired away from Chaparral by Arizona’s top college programs, and the third prominent prep coach to be grabbed by the Pac-12 schools in just the last four years.
The University of Arizona swooped in and plucked Charlie Ragle from his head-coaching position at Chaparral five years ago, after Ragle had taken the Firebirds to three state championships in six years. And John Sanders, who won four state championships during his five years at Saguaro High School (another Scottsdale school), was hired by ASU in 2012 to be the Sun Devils’ coordinator of football operations.
Hamilton has a solid coaching resume after eight years at Chaparral, during which time he moved from defensive coordinator to head coach the past two seasons, winning nine games each year and going 18-7 overall. He also spent five years in the NFL as a defensive back with the Giants and Falcons.
He doesn’t have the state titles on his high school head-coaching resume, like the other two hires had. Nor their enviable records, which were almost identical. Ragle compiled a 63-7 record at Chaparral, Sanders finished 62-7 at Saguaro.
But Hamilton will provide ASU head coach Todd Graham and his staff that link to in-state recruits that Sanders and Ragle also brought to the party.
Hamilton’s new role with the Sun Devils will reportedly involve analyzing defensive tendencies, researching, evaluating personnel, and game planning. It is not an on-field position right now.
Interestingly, Ragle, who went to Tucson, hired Hamilton…who is now headed to Tempe.
Ragle is still on staff with the Wildcats, working as tight ends coach and special teams coordinator. Sanders spent two years at ASU before returning to the prep game. This past season was his first as the new head coach at San Tan Foothills High School in Queen Creek.
Chaparral administrators say they are hoping to have the head-coaching job filled by the end of the month, and there will be plenty of qualified candidates knocking on their door.
Perhaps even more so, now that it is starting to look like a stepping stone to a college job.