Kevin Camp

ASU Football Welcomes Five Mid-Year Enrollees

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The final game of the 2016 college football season ended with a bang earlier this week with Clemson’s last second win over Alabama.  Participating in the championship game is the goal of every FBS school and a dream of every fan that tailgates, paints their body, and cries a little (or a lot) on the inside when their team loses.  This is especially true for anyone that considers themselves a fan of the Arizona State Sun Devils.

Twenty years have passed since the number two ranked Sun Devils lost in the final seconds to the Ohio State Buckeyes in Pasadena at the 1997 Rose Bowl.  While competing in the Conference of Champions, no other ASU football program has ever reached the heights of the 1996 squad.  For coach Todd Graham, Monday January 9th was an important first step in what some have called his ‘make or break’ year in Tempe.  As for the fans, it was a day that marked the beginning to the build up for the Sun Devils 2017 season.

Monday January 9th was the beginning of spring semester at ASU.  While most students were returning to continue their college path, Sun Devil football fans know there were five new students on campus Monday that will be key to the future success of Sun Devil football.  Monday also signaled the beginning of the NCAA recruiting dead period, a four-day window that prohibits coaches from face to face contact with a recruit or their parents.  ASU and programs across the country are entering the stretch run in the 2017 recruiting cycle that ends on the first day of February with National Signing Day.  Perhaps it is fitting that Friday the 13th will mark the final two week push for the Sun Devils to finish strong with their 2017 recruiting class, a class many consider to be the turning point for Graham and his program.

Early enrollees to the program usually miss out on a lot of the hype of Signing Day because they are already on campus.  But their availability for spring football combined with their presence on campus and around the program provide a greater chance for an immediate impact during the season.  All five players that have committed to playing football at ASU started classes on Monday aiming to be ahead of their fellow recruits that will sign in February but not get to campus until later this summer.  And since the five new faces play positions of need for the Sun Devils, the early start should improve the team in 2017 and beyond.

The biggest new body in Tempe on Monday put in a lot of course work over the past year to finally be able to step foot on campus as a student athlete.  Douglas Subtyl is a redshirt junior that was a part of the 2016 recruiting cycle, but needed an extra year of classes to become eligible to play for the Sun Devils.  Subtly will be assigned the task of solidifying the defensive line on the outside as the elusive Devil-backer prospect as part of newly hired Phil Bennett’s attacking defense.  While Subtly could be classified as a raw football player; his size, quickness, and strength are traits that have been missing since Carl Bradford departed for the NFL after the 2013 season.

The offensive side of the ball features two of the biggest recruiting wins in the five years Todd Graham has been in Tempe.  After being named the starting quarterback for the top ranked Alabama Crimson Tide to begin the season against USC, Blake Barnett was granted his release from Alabama and enrolled at Palomar Junior College in San Mateo, California.  Instead of playing QB for Palomar in 2016, Barnett immersed himself in preparing for his next FBS team through workouts and study sessions to prepare to take his highly rated talents to a new program in 2017.  Several Pac-12 programs looked at Barnett as a key to retooling their offenses, but the quarterback surprised Todd Graham on his birthday with his commitment to join the Sun Devil program.  Due to his transfer Barnett will sit out the first four games of the season, but that decision is currently under appeal with the NCAA.  After a injury riddled 2016 season at the quarterback position for the Devils, Barnett adds much needed talent, depth, and competition to the group heading into 2017.

The Texas recruiting pipeline that Graham and his staff continue to try to develop landed ASU the second ranked running back (per Scout.com), Eno Benjamin.  Benjamin committed to ASU publicly at last week’s Army High School All-American game, choosing the Sun Devils over Texas, Baylor, Michigan, and Utah.  While ASU has two standouts at the position in Demario Richard and Kalen Ballage (announced this week he would be coming back for his senior season and foregoing the NFL Draft), a talent like Benjamin should make a strong push for playing time as a true freshman.

The final two newcomers to Tempe this spring will try to make an early impact on the defensive side of the ball.  Possibly flying under the radar D.J. Davidson chose to ‘Stay True’ to the local school and enrolled at ASU after his original commitment to Central Florida ran into qualification issues.  The  focus ASU has placed on local Arizona high school prospects really paid off with Davidson, as the proximity to family and friends were key to his commitment.  Davidson is a big body that will provide size and depth to the Sun Devils defensive line over the next four years.

The Texas connection provides the Sun Devils with some much needed help in the defensive back field with the signing of Ty Thomas.  Thomas is the sixth ranked safety (per Scout.com) in the state of Texas and was originally committed to Oklahoma State.  Thomas is a smart player that has a nose for the ball and an extremely sound tackler.  Once Thomas finally gets onto the field in Sun Devil Stadium he’s sure to draw a lot of comparisons to the likes of former Sun Devil stand-outs Jordan Simone and Adam Archuleta.

The rest of the 2017 recruiting class will officially be announced in less than a month’s time on Singing Day, but will not join the program until August.  These five players discussed above however will have the benefit of experiencing college living, athlete training tables, team workouts, and the spring football practice sessions alongside their new teammates.  While there is no guarantee that a mid-year student athlete will find success sooner than their summer enrollee peers.  Chances are very high that at least two of these five players will help the Sun Devils return to the success that Todd Graham and his staff encountered in their first three years in Tempe.

About Kevin Camp

Kevin Camp

Kevin is a '96 Sun Devil grad of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Contrary to his last name, Kevin is not one to stay in one place too long. Kevin has called Washington, Arizona, Utah, and again Arizona home since his days at ASU nearly 20 years ago. A passion for photography in his spare time turned to a great opportunity to shoot Sun Devil sporting events. He has photographed Sun Devils football at Camp T, Tempe practices, Utah, and Colorado while shooting some basketball and baseball as the teams visited Utah. Now that Kevin resides in Flagstaff, he is looking forward to reigniting the family tradition of Camp T with his wife and son. Kevin is also the VP of the ASU Alumni Association Flagstaff club.

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