Don Hansen

Flashback: 2012 Signing Day

on

Our Flashback series detailing Sun Devil football recruiting classes returns with an in-depth review of the 2012 class which was Todd Graham’s first class at Arizona State. Previously, the 2009 Signing Day class, the 2010 Signing Day class and the 2011 Signing Day class were examined. After a 31-30 record in five seasons, former Arizona State head coach Dennis Erickson was fired by former Athletic Director Lisa Love on November 28, 2011. The firing came a little over two months prior to National Signing Day for the 2012 recruiting class.

Two and half weeks later, Todd Graham, amid national controversy, was hired as the next head coach at Arizona State on December 14, 2011. As a result, Graham had six weeks to hire his coaching staff and sign his first recruiting class.  Given the window, Graham was able to sign 23 student athletes in total, half of the which had originally committed to Erickson.

The two biggest signings Graham secured were junior college running back Marion Grice and local high school superstar, running back D.J. Foster. Due to the depth issues with the program, Graham signed nine junior college players in this class. Currently, of the 23 student athletes signed in 2012, only 10 players will dress in the maroon and gold this fall as part of the 2014 Sun Devils. Of the 13 players who are no longer with the program, only six finished their college eligibility with Arizona State. Here is the breakdown of the 2012 Arizona State Sun Devil football signing day class:

Current Sun Devils

D.J. Foster, RB

  • Foster signed with his hometown Sun Devils over USC and California which was the biggest “win” for new head coach Todd Graham on Signing Day 2012. Foster is the only current Sun Devil superstar who was featured in the #StayTrue2ASU billboard campaign during the summer of 2013 after a sensational freshman season where Foster earned Freshman All-America honors from Fox Sports NEXT at Scout.com. During his true freshman season in 2012, Foster was a dual-threat player out of the slot. He rushed 102 times for 493 yards and two touchdowns along with catching 38 balls for 533 yards and four touchdowns. Last season with additional muscle on his frame, Foster touched the ball even more including starting the final three games at running back in place of the injured Marion Grice. Foster finished 2013 rushing 93 times for 501 yards and six touchdowns along with making 63 receptions for 653 yards and four touchdowns. In his first two seasons of college football, Foster has 2196 yards for scrimmage for the Sun Devil offense. Foster shows big play capability every time he touches the ball rushing or receiving. As a receiver, Foster is a great route runner who exploits any linebacker who tries to cover him. As a rusher, Foster can get through holes quickly for positive yards. Heading into his junior season in 2014, Foster will be the featured running back in the potent Sun Devil offense.

Salamo Fiso, OLB

  • The Long Beach Poly linebacker signed with Todd Graham and Arizona State after an early verbal commitment to former Head Coach Erickson. Fiso is the single remaining Long Beach Poly High School player from this class as Blandin, Rowe, and Smith have all left the program. After redshirting in 2012, Fiso thrived at the SAM linebacker position in 2013. With his play in the first Stanford match-up, Fiso took over the starting spot from senior Steffon Martin against USC and never looked back. Fiso was named a Honorable Mention Freshman All-American by College Football News as he finished the season with 71 tackles and three sacks. Fiso has an attacking style of play where he aggressively fills hole and tackles hard. With more repetitions, Fiso became a stronger player with much more consistency. Expect big numbers from Fiso in 2014 as the defense will be built around its only returning starter in the front seven.

Jaxon Hood, DT

  • The Chandler Hamilton star defensive tackled signed with Arizona State and Todd Graham over reported offers from the University of Arizona, Boston College, and Washington State. Hood started at defensive tackle in 2012, his true freshman season, due to the career ending injury of Corey Adams and the discipline issues of Mike Pennel. In 2012, Hood made 12 starts, recording 26 tackles and three sacks while earning Freshman All-America honors from Fox Sports NEXT at Scout.com. With high expectations in 2013, Hood started off strong with four tackles against Wisconsin, but Hood suffered a major hamstring strain early in the third game of the season against Stanford. Hood missed major contests against USC and Notre Dame, but returned to the team as a rotation player due to the developments of seniors Davon Coleman and Gannon Conway. Hood finished the 2013 season with 17 total tackles. With the entire defensive line of Coleman, Conway, and Will Sutton moving on, Hood has a chance to be the new leader of the defensive line in 2014. However, Hood missed a lot of spring 2014 practice due to a ligament injury in his hand. Once fully healed, Hood must continue with his hard work and desire attitude as he will be battling for a starting spot with big Mo Latu at the nose tackle position and incoming 2014 signees Dalvon Stuckey and Connor Humphreys at the “tiger” defensive tackle position.

Carlos Mendoza, MLB

  • Mendoza, a 6’1” 215 lb linebacker out of California powerhouse Oaks Christian High School, was an early verbal commitment to Head Coach Dennis Erickson. Even with the coaching change, Mendoza signed with the Sun Devils and new head coach Todd Graham over reported offers from Washington State, San Jose State, and New Mexico State. Mendoza, who learned the linebacker position from Clay Matthews Jr., the 19 year veteran of the NFL, in high school, enrolled into Arizona State and was ready to play as a true freshman. In his first game against NAU, Mendoza had three tackles playing behind Brandon Magee at the WILL linebacker position. In his second career game against Illinois, Mendoza had four tackles and two interceptions, but he suffered a season-ending shoulder injury which led to his medical redshirt in 2012. In 2013, Mendoza returned to the field, but he spent his time as a second team spur linebacker and only registering five tackles for the year. When on the field, Mendoza shows great field presence with speed and strong positioning, but Mendoza has battled injuries his entire career. He sat out most of 2014 spring practice with foot injury which reduces his experience and repetitions. The Sun Devil defense is losing nine starters, and it needs talented and cerebral players like Mendoza to get healthy and compete in fall practice. For the 2014 season, Mendoza will likely compete with Antonio Longino for the starting inside linebacker spot next to Fiso or Mendoza could compete with Moeakiola and Marcus Ball for the spur linebacker position. Based on the opponent, Mendoza could be seen playing both spots throughout the year.

Laiu Moeakiola, S

  • The 6’0” 200 lbs safety from Euless Trinity signed with Arizona State over reported offers from Baylor, UCLA, and Tulsa. In fact, Moeakiola made a verbal commitment to UCLA during his senior season, but he eventually switched to the Sun Devils. After the football season is over recruiting picks up, and with Todd Graham taking over the Sun Devil program, Graham was able to get Moeakiola to visit Tempe and sign with the Sun Devils. Moeakiola played four games as a true freshman as the safety position. However, Moeakiola suffered a season ending hamstring injury. This injury allowed Moeakiola to obtain a medical redshirt. In 2013, Moeakiola, a redshirt freshman, started the season at field safety, but after Damarious Randall took over that starting spot, Moeakiola found himself playing the spur linebacker position. Moeakiola finished the 2013 season with 21 tackles and one pass break up. Moeakiola is a strong, solid tackler, and he has the ability to cover which is why he can succeed at the spur position. The other major part of Moeakiola’s game is that he is a very smart player as seen in his blitzes during the season. Moeakiola can get to the quarterback, and if he cannot, then he knows how to make a disruption somewhere, someway, to help put his teammates into position to make the play. Moeakiola will be in a big time fall camp position battle for a starting spot whether its safety or spur linebacker. Redshirt freshman Marcus Ball will be the main competition.

Evan Goodman, OT

  • The talented offensive lineman from Florida signed with the Sun Devils over Notre Dame, Nebraska, Florida State, and Arkansas (to name a few). Evan joins his brother Devin in Tempe as Devin was a 2011 Signing Day signee. Evan played in 2012 as a true freshman due to depth issues. However, Goodman’s time was spent mostly on special teams. Goodman was able to redshirt in 2013 and spend the year improving his technique and conditionings. Heading into 2014, Goodman is battling to become one of the five best offensive linemen on the program. If he doesn’t win the starting spot at left tackle, look for offensive coordinator Mike Norvell and offensive line coach Chris Thomson to work Goodman on the field in power formations with extra offensive lineman. With tackle Tyler Sulka and guard/tackle Jamil Douglas seniors, expect Evan Goodman to be a full-time starting in the 2015 season.

Stephon McCray, OG

  • The big interior offensive lineman signed with ASU over reported offers from Washington State, Colorado, and Iowa State. McCray redshirted in 2012 to work on his body and form, and in 2013, he was a second team offensive lineman who got reps early in the season and late in big victories. The current redshirt sophomore is now listed at a powerful 6’3” and 313 lbs, and he is the top reserve interior lineman at both guard and center. With three juniors in front of him (Christian Westerman, Nick Kelly, and Vi Teofilo), McCray may be utilized in goal line situations and special times for a couple seasons before playing full-time. However, McCray was called by Graham “a tough dude” and he will challenge for a starting spot.

Kody Kohl, TE

  • Kody Kohl, the younger brother of former Sun Devil Trevor Kohl, was an early offer from the Erickson coaching staff that Todd Graham honored. Kohl is a physical, blocking tight end who redshirted in 2012. Kohl received some reps in 2013 as an extra blocking tight end/fullback, but Kohl injured his shoulder in bowl practices. Due to shoulder surgery, Kohl missed all of spring practice which will further delay his development. With Grant Martinez improving and the current 2015 verbal commitment from 6’5” tight end Raymond Epps, Kohl’s role upon return will continue to be a blocker and special teamer.

Easton Wahlstrom, LS

  • According to the 2012 Snappers National Rating System, Wahlstrom was the #12 high school long snapper in the nation. The Scottsdale native committed to the Sun Devils with the previous coaching regime and Todd Graham honored that offer and commitment. Wahlstrom joined the Sun Devils as an early enrollee, and he snapped during the 2012 season for punts only. Josh Hubner took his short long-snapping duties on extra points and field goals. Wahlstrom returned to full-time long snapping duties in 2013, but Arizona State does have a walk-on long snappers challenging him. Junior Donnie Shields has been with the program for some time and got some first team reps during spring practice.

Willis McGehee, OT (JUCO)

  • The junior college transfer is unique as he has four years at Arizona State to play three seasons. McGehee, a qualifier out of high school, only played one season of football before graduating so he received no scholarship offers out of high school. McGehee played at Navarro Junior College in Corsicana, Texas before Todd Graham reached out with a scholarship offer. McGehee has amazing size and athleticism from his former basketball playing days, but he is working on technique. Currently, McGehee is running with the second team this spring.

Eligibility Used

Marion Grice, RB (JUCO)

  • The fifth ranked overall junior college player by Rivals.com in 2012 was a Signing Day surprise for the Sun Devils as he signed with Todd Graham over Texas A&M (his previous commitment), Ole Miss, Houston, and reported offers from Oklahoma, Arkansas, Baylor and Utah. Grice is the first Todd Graham signee to be drafted into the NFL as he was selected 201st overall in the 6th round of the 2014 NFL Draft. The ASU offensive touchdown machine, Marion Grice scored 39 times in his 23 games as a Sun Devil over two seasons. The complete running back rushed for 679 yards and 11 touchdowns, while catching 41 passes for 425 yards and eight touchdowns in 2012. In 2013, Grice rushed for 996 yards and 14 touchdowns while catching 50 passes for 438 yards and six touchdowns. Before he missed the last three games of the 2013 season due to injury, Grice was on pace to break the record for most points scored in a season. Grice was an offensive force for offensive coordinator Mike Norvell, and he made some spectacular plays for the Sun Devils over the years like our Holiday 12 Pack of Plays #3 against Washington.

Chris Young, S (JUCO)

  • Hybrid safety/linebacker Chris Young signed with Arizona State over Indiana, Oregon State, and Washington State. The junior college transfer originally committed to the University of Washington out of high school but he did not qualify and ended up at Arizona Western Junior College. Upon arriving to Tempe in the fall of 2012, Chris Young was placed into the spur linebacker role of the new Sun Devil defense. Young did it all for the Sun Devils that season with 83 tackles, 14 of those tackles for loss, two sacks, one interception, and four pass break-ups. With the loss of Brandon Magee heading into the 2013 season, the coaching staff asked Young to bulk up and move inside to the WILL linebacker position. Young didn’t disappoint as he produced 112 tackles, 17.5 for a loss, and 7.5 sacks. Young was named Pac-12 Player of the Week after his amazing game at UCLA with 13 tackles and three sacks, and Young finished the season as a Second Team All Pac-12 linebacker. The success of Chris Young in the Arizona State defense, where he started all 27 games that he was in Tempe, will be used by the coaching staff for future recruits as it shows how quickly they can incorporate a talented junior college player and put him into position to succeed.

Darwin Rogers, TE (JUCO)

  • The junior college transfer from Arizona Western Junior College signed with Arizona State without any other major college offers. The new coaching staff needed tight ends since the previous offensive scheme under Noel Mazzone did not utilize the position group. Rogers fit the physical blocking tight end role on the roster, but he had great hands when called upon to catch. In 2012, Rogers had three total catches for thirty-one yards and one touchdown, and in last 2013, Rogers had four catches for sixty-six yards and one touchdown. That one touchdown in the 2013 Territorial Cup victory will go down as his most famous play as a Sun Devil (2:32 of his highlight video).

Steffon Martin, MLB (JUCO)

  • The inside linebacker, who transferred from Arizona Western, chose the Sun Devils over Oregon State, Arkansas, and Indiana. Martin played in all 27 games over the 2012 and 2013 seasons. In 2012, Martin started at SAM linebacker for the majority of the games and finishing with 27 tackles. However, in 2013, Salamo Fiso beat him out for the starting position, but Martin was a key back-up linebacker and special teamer with 34 tackles.

Alonzo Agwuenu, WR (JUCO)

  • Agwuenu signed with Arizona State over Oregon State, Nevada, and Kentucky. The 6’4” 200 lb wide receiver joined the Sun Devils from Mt. San Antonio Junior College in California. Agwuenu’s inconsistent route running and blocking relegated him to a back-up role for his two seasons with the Sun Devils. In 2012, Agwuenu had 11 catches for 115 yards and one touchdown while in 2013 after the arrival of Jaelen Strong, Agwuenu only managed one catch for eight yards. Agwuenu struggled to find consistent playing time for his entire time in Tempe.

Jake Sheffield, DT (JUCO)

  • The former Marine joined the program in December 2011 as an early enrollee, junior college transfer from The College of the Desert in Palm Springs, California. Sheffield chose the Sun Devils and Todd Graham over Iowa and Indiana. The defensive tackle was one of the hardest working men in the football program, but Sheffield only saw mostly special teams duty playing behind Will Sutton, Davon Coleman, and Jaxon Hood. Sheffield recorded nine official tackles in 22 total games over the past two seasons.

Not With the Arizona State Program

Terrell Davis, RB

  • While Davis had a strong showing in his first Camp T experience, he realized that he was buried on the depth chart behind DJ Foster and Deantre Lewis. After the 2013 season, the running back moved home and transferred to the University of British Columbia.

Josiah Blandin, WR

  • Blandin was the first member of the four Long Beach Poly High School signees to announce he was leaving the program. Blandin left Arizona State after the spring semester of 2013, and he played last season for Long Beach City College and had 41 catches in 8 games. At one time, Blandin tweeted that he tweeted that the University of Utah is the “start to a new beginning” where former Arizona State coach Dennis Erickson currently coaches running backs. Erickson was the original ASU coach to whom Blandin committed.

Matt Rowe, OLB

  • Prior to 2014 spring practice, linebacker Matt Rowe announced he was leaving the school at the end of the semester. Rowe, the second Long Beach Poly Jackrabbit, to leave the program couldn’t battle his way up the linebacker depth chart.

Richard Smith, WR

Milo Jordan, DT

  • Milo Jordan, a three-star defensive tackle out of Corona Centennial High School, signed with Arizona State. Sun Devil fans had visions of another Will Sutton, but Jordan never stepped foot on campus in Tempe due to academic issues which did not allow him to enroll.

Mike Pennel, DT (JUCO)

  • The huge defensive tackle signed with Arizona State from Scottsdale Community College (Go Artichokes!). Pennel had high expectations with the rate combination of tremendous size and amazing mobility. However, Pennel and the coaching staff had issues which resulted in Pennel only playing in 5 games during the 2013 season before transferring to Colorado State Pueblo.

Oliver Johnson, CB (JUCO)

  • The junior college cornerback signed with Arizona State at a position of need. However, he redshirted the 2013 season and then quietly left the Arizona State program.

About Don Hansen

Don Hansen

Don is a 2003 graduate of Arizona State University where he spent four years sitting in the front rows of many ASU athletic events leading the rowdy student section. Now, Don co-hosts the "ASU Devils Den" podcast covering every detail of ASU football. Don works and resides in Gilbert, Arizona with his beautiful Sun Devil wife and their two beautiful daughters!

Recommended for you

You must be logged in to post a comment Login