ASU football recruiting hits big payday at Saguaro HS

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                </div>  College recruiting is kinda like fishing.  Coaches cast their lines into the talent pool and try to reel in the biggest ‘fish’ in the water. Arizona State’s head football […]<!-- AddThis Sharing Buttons below -->
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College recruiting is kinda like fishing.  Coaches cast their lines into the talent pool and try to reel in the biggest ‘fish’ in the water.

Arizona State’s head football coach Todd Graham found a time-saving method while casting about in his own backyard.  The net he threw over Scottsdale’s Saguaro High School gathered up three prize catches in a single cast.

The Saguaro catch will bring help to his Sun Devil program on both sides of the line.  Corey Stephens is an offensive lineman and Jared Poplawski plays tight end.  On the defensive side, Kyle Soelle will join the ASU linebacker corps.

They all committed to play for Graham on the same day last month.  It’s a phone call he won’t soon forget.

A disappointing 6-7 finish to last season, the first losing record since Graham was hired in 2011, obviously didn’t deter the trio from rolling the dice with the Sun Devils, who are expected by most analysts to have another sub-par season.  They were picked by the conference media to finish fifth in the Pac-12 South Division.

None of the three are expected to become immediate impact players when they graduate next spring and head to Tempe.  But it remains to be seen what kind of progress each will make in their senior seasons.

Poplawski is a three-star prospect, while Stephens is rated by Rivals.com as a top-10 offensive guard on the West Coast.  But their contribution may be even bigger off the field.

They are just the latest in-state talent to commit to the ASU program and have expressed their interest in becoming an extension of the recruiting program by encouraging other local players to join them in Tempe.  ASU is picking up steam in that area after getting commits from three other high-profile recruits from Arizona high schools.

Last November, ASU got another bulk pick-up when a couple of Chandler High School stars committed to the program within a week of each other and will be on board for the 2016 season.  N’Keal Harry is a five-star wide receiver who averaged almost 17 yards on 48 receptions in helping the Wolves to a 11-2 record in 2015. Teammate Chase Lucas is a four-star running back/receiver who was considered the No. 2 prospect in the state as a senior.

In May, Ryan Kelley, a four-star quarterback from Basha High School jumped on the band wagon. Various recruiting services rated him as a top-5 dual-threat quarterback and the No. 2 prospect in Arizona.  He will join the Sun Devil program for the 2017 season.

Here is what the Saguaro trio will bring to the party:

Poplawski was the first to get his offer, back in November after helping Saguaro to a 12-2 season and a state championship.  He started at both tight end and defensive end last season, making 32 catches and contributing seven touchdowns.  ASU was one of 10 schools making offers, programs like Colorado, UNLV, Illinois, and Hawaii.

Stephens played left tackle for the Sabercats the last two seasons and was given his offer from ASU after an impressive performance at the school’s Big Man Camp in early June.  The 6’2″, 291-pound offensive lineman received 11 offers including those from Air Force, Army, and Louisville.

Soelle is a 6’3″, 210-pound linebacker who played at Scottsdale’s Notre Dame Prep last year, but transferred in January to Saguaro, where he will likely get playing time at tight end.   Four of his nine offers were from Pac-12 schools that included ASU, Utah, Washington State, and Colorado.

ASU will be getting proven winners in this group.  Each of their high school seasons has been capped off with a state championship.

But first up for the threesome is a senior season that opens with a couple of out-of-state schools.  One of those games, against Valor Christian on Aug. 27, will be played in front of a national audience on ESPN.   It will be a big early-season test for Saguaro, the three-time defending state champion in Divisions III and II.  The Eagles, from Highlands Ranch, Colo., have won six state titles in the last seven seasons.

With their college decisions behind them, the trio will be able to focus on defending their state title – again.

(Photo: ASU Athletics)