Gary Doran

ASU Defense to File Missing Persons Report

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If you’re wondering why ASU is fielding such a young, inexperienced, porous, and at time, confused looking defense this year, look no further than the final two years of the previous staff’s recruiting results for answers. The high school recruits for those two years would today be the fourth and fifth year juniors and seniors that are lacking on this year’s defensive squad. The missing recruits from those years could very well have been today’s ASU defensive leaders. So what happened? Let’s take a look at the defensive recruits signed five recruiting cycles ago.

2010 Recruiting Class: 2014 would-be fifth year seniors

DL – Joita Te’i———————–gone
DE/OLB – Jordan McDonald————gone
DL – Lee Adams——————–gone
DE/OLB – Junior Onyeali—————-gone
S – Ramon Abreu—————–gone
CB – Devan Spann——————gone
LB – Carl Bradford—————–gone

All eight of the recruited players for defense from the 2010 class have moved on for various reasons, which means that this year’s squad has zero mature senior leaders from what would have been its most seasoned recruits; those that would have been in the program the longest. That’s a real void!

Now let’s see what happened four recruiting cycles ago.

2011 Recruiting Class: 2014 would-be fourth year seniors/juniors

DL – Sean O’Grady—————–gone
DT – David Moala——————gone
CB – Joe Eason———————gone
LB– Isreal Marshall—————gone
CB – Rashad Wadood————-gone
DT – Mo Latu———————–contributor, non-starter
S – Ezekiel Bishop—————contributor, non-starter

Of the seven defensive recruits from the 2011 class, only two remain, and neither is a starter nor a leader on the defense. Putting the two classes together, this year’s ASU defensive unit has missed out on thirteen out of fifteen defensive recruits from those that would now be seasoned juniors and seniors. The bottom-line is that this year’s ASU defense has no leadership from its two most potentially seasoned recruiting classes. That is a huge void!
Let’s now look at Todd Graham’s first recruiting class split between those that had already committed to the previous staff, and those that committed to the new Graham staff. This group of recruits would just now be starting their third year in the program.

2012 Recruiting Class: 

LB – Mathew Rowe—————gone
DT – Milo Jordan—————–gone
LB – Carlos Mendoza————-contributor, non-starter
DT – Jaxon Hood—————–starter
LB/S – Laiu Moeakiola————starter
LB – Salamo Fiso—————-starter

The four recruits from this class still on the team consist of one true junior and three redshirt sophomores. Looking at all three of these recruiting classes together, one can see why Coach Graham is pushing the three starters from this 2012 group to be leaders on the defense; basically, they have been in the program the longest. The problem with relying on this group is that the three players have only been in the program two full seasons, and only one has the credentials of being a full-time starter last year. Under normal circumstances, this group would be just too young to place senior-type leadership responsibilities upon their shoulders, however, because of the poor recruiting a few years back, these are his longest tenured defensive players right now.

Now let’s look at the JC recruits from the 2013 and 2014 recruiting cycles. Coach Graham needed these JC players to fill the holes caused by the loss of so many defensive high school recruiting misses. Here is how the JC recruits have panned out so far.

2013 JC Recruits: 2014 second year players

DT – Marcus Hardison———starter
DT – Demetrius Cherry——–contributor, non-starter
S – Damarious Randall——-starter
LB – Antonio Longino———-starter
LB – Eriquel Florence———-on the team
CB – Solomon Means———–contributor, non-starter

2014 JC Recruits: 1st year players

CB Kweishi Brown——————-started UCLA game
DL Edmond Boateng—————–contributor, non-starter
DE/OLB Darrius Caldwell—————–did not qualify
DT Dalvon Stuckey——————-did not qualify

As you can see, Coach Graham is leaning heavily on his JC recruits for this year’s defense. As another option for leadership, he is also pushing two of his second year JC players, Marcus Hardison and Damarious Randall, to be defensive leaders, even though both have only been in the program just over a season. The move really doesn’t scream seasoned leadership, but one of necessity.

To complete the defense for this year, several of the very young recruits who were playing high school ball not long ago are filling the rest of the holes in the 2014 unit. These youngsters will hopefully be the leaders of future defenses, but certainly not an option this season.

2013 High School Recruits: 2014 second year players

CB – William Earley——–contributor, non-starter
DT– Viliami Latu——-contributor, non-starter
S – James Johnson———-contributor, non-starter
S – Jayme Otomewo———-on the team
DE/LB – Chans Cox———on the team
DE – Corey Smith———-contributor, non-starter (injured for season)
S – Marcus Ball———-contributor, non-starter
DE – Kisima Jagne———-gone

And so, when looking at high school recruiting on the defensive side before Coach Graham arrived, one can easily see why the unit is struggling today, and will probably continue to struggle the rest of this season. It is not only the youth and inexperience on the defense, which is plentiful, but also the lack of good solid mature leadership within the unit that hampers them. Those that have been in the program the longest are still too young and somewhat inexperienced to be well respected leaders, while the JC recruits, although being juniors and seniors, have just not been around long enough to command the respect an experienced fifth year senior would receive. For proof of this, look at the senior leadership exhibited by several fifth year seniors on the offensive unit. That squad is just steadier in its performance.

Overall, the 2014 ASU defensive unit can best be described as the young and inexperienced – leading the young and inexperienced. That’s not a great combination for productive results. It looks like time and patience may be the only good cure for the 2014 ASU defense.

About Gary Doran

Gary Doran

Gary graduated from ASU many years ago. After careers working in banking, finance and the financial administration of academic research funding, he is now interested in utilizing his passion for numbers towards two things he thoroughly loves; Arizona State University and college football. He is looking forward to finding the “stories” buried within the numbers on a football stat sheet. He has gone to ASU football games all the way back to the days of Frank Kush and the WAC. He has been married to an amazing ASU graduate for almost forty years, and they currently live in Ventura, CA. Although this may disqualify him from talking football, he and his wife enjoy the practice of yoga and dancing the Argentine Tango. Ole!

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