Don Hansen

Flashback: 2009 Signing Day

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February 2009 was supposed to start a new era of football under Dennis Erickson as he signed the highest ranked prospect ever at Arizona State University, Vontaze Burfict.  All recruiting publications had Burfict as the top inside linebacker and most publications had him in their top 50 high school seniors overall, one rated as high as 9th best overall.

Reviewing the three major scouting websites (Scout, Rivals, ESPN) and their rankings, several players besides Burfict and Adams were given star rankings greater than 3.  Matt Tucker, Jamal Miles, and Osahon Irabor received 4 stars from Rivals, while Kody Koebensky received 4 stars from ESPN.  Shockingly, ESPN gave Brock Osweiler and Miles 2 stars.

During the podcast, we broke down the 2009 signing of Burfict (the personification of the Erickson era), Miles (the special teams return star), Cameron Marshall, the strong runner who shows power (Fast Forward to 2:50) and athleticism, and Osweiler.  Here are details on the rest of the 2009 class.

20 High School Signees (includes Burfict, Miles, Marshall, Osweiler)

Corey Adams

  • A 6’ 3” 292 lb defensive tackle out of Scottsdale Saguaro High School in Scottsdale, AZ.  After Burfict, Adams was the highest rated recruit in the 2009 class, the #2 overall prospect in the state of Arizona, and one of the top DT prospects in the nation.  Adams played as a true freshman in 2009 playing in 8 games and recording 4 tackles.  His 2009 season ended due to back surgery – sadly, starting an injury theme to his career.  Adams returned in 2010 playing in 9 games, recording 10 tackles, 3 of those for a loss, and 2 sacks.  However, he missed games early in the season due to a knee injury and ended the season playing with a bad neck.  Heading into the 2011 season, Adams was motivated and healthy and he played in all 13 games, but he never could jump into the 1st team ahead of Bo Moos and Will Sutton.  Adams recorded only 16 tackles, 2 for loss, and 0.5 sack.  2012 is Corey Adams’ last season at ASU, and similar to the Erickson era, his talent has not produced the expected on the field results.  It should be pointed out that Adams did have two different position coaches at ASU while battling those injuries, so he didn’t get a lot of consistent practice time to develop.  New defensive line coach Paul Randolph is probably salivating at the talent Adams has, and hopefully Adams can step up his senior year, become a permanent starter, leader, and star.

Matt Tucker

  • A 6’ 3” 190 lb safety out of Grandview High School in Aurora, CO who graduated high school early, enrolled in ASU in December of 2008 and participated in 2009 spring practice.  Tucker was cited by the Erickson regime as having huge potential based on his size and athleticism.  Even after joining ASU earlier than the rest of the class, Tucker did end up redshirting the 2009 season.  In 2010, Tucker played a lot of special teams, seeing action in 6 games and recording 2 tackles.  Tucker earned a Hard Hat award for his weight training in the off-season, and he quickly got over 205 lbs.  In 2011, the coaching staff moved him to outside linebacker.  Tucker played in 13 games recording 11 tackles.  Tucker is a serious break-through candidate in 2012 under the Todd Graham defensive scheme.  Tucker can play the hybrid safety/outside linebacker role that is a utilized key position in the new defensive scheme.

Osahon Irabor

  • A 5’ 11” 183 lb cornerback from Upland High School in Upland, CA with offers from most of the Pac-10.  Irabor redshirted in 2009 and learned the defense on the scout team.  In 2010, Irabor played in 12 games and started the last 7 games of the year across from Omar Bolden.  Irabor broke out in the 2011 season starting in all 13 games.  For his career, Irabor has 88 tackles, 8 Pass Break Ups, and 2 interceptions.  The high number of tackles was due to Bray’s soft cover scheme scheme.  Heading into 2012, Irabor seems to be slated to start at one of the CB spots, but he has to develop into the new secondary system implemented by Coach Ball where the CBs have to play a lot of bump and run.  That means that Irabor has to be physical at the line and get that two handed jab so the WR is re-routed every play and then he has to cover by moving his feet.  Heading into his junior year, this off-season is huge for Irabor.

Evan Finkenberg

  • A 6’6” 265 lb offensive lineman from Tesoro High School in Rancho Santa Margarita, CA.  The athletic offensive tackle started playing there his senior year of high school, and after redshirting in 2009, Finkenberg played in 12 games in 2010, starting 11 of them as a redshirt freshman.  Finkenberg was a 2010 College Football News All-American Team Honorable Mention, and a 2010 Rivals PAC-10 All-Freshman First Teamer.  In 2011, Finkenberg started the season as the Left Tackle, protecting Brock Osweiler’s blind side.

Marcus Washington

  • A 6’1” 195 lb running back out of Desert Vista High School in Phoenix, AZ.  Washington actually greyshirted and enrolled in ASU mid-December of 2009.  Washington redshirted in 2010, and in 2011, he only saw the field in 7 games where he had 13 carries for 41 years and 1 TD.  Going into 2012, there is tremendous depth at the RB spot (Marshall, Lewis, Grice, Foster, Middlebrooks, Morrison), so Washington is going to have to stand out to move up the depth chart.

Chris Coyle

  • A 6’3” 235 lb tight end out of California powerhouse Oaks Christian High School is Westlake, CA.  Coyle played in the 2009 U.S. Army All-America game, and he was an early commit to ASU (July 2008).  Coyle redshirted in 2009, and in 2010, Coyle became a solid special teamer appearing in 10 games.  Since Noel Mazzone’s offensive system does not use a tight end, Coyle was moved to WR due to his solid route running abilities.  In 2011 season, Coyle had 6 catches for 73 years where he played mostly behind senior Gerell Robinson.  Coyle continues to play superb special teams, and he was often one of Cameron Marshall’s lead blockers in red zone rushing plays.  Heading into the 2012 season with the new offensive philosophy, Coyle is returning to his tight end position, and he could see a lot of time on the field if he continues to play physical and run solid routes.

Anthony Jones

  • A 6’2” 218 lb linebacker out of national powerhouse Chandler Hamilton High School in Chandler, AZ.  Jones was the top ranked LB in Arizona, but with the depth already at the LB position, Jones redshirted in 2009.  Sadly, Jones was declared academically ineligible and he missed the 2010 season.  The speedy outside linebacker got many reps in 2011 with the 2nd team, and he saw action in all 13 games, but he only registered 6 tackles, 1 of those for loss.  With the losses of Burfict, Parker, Lyons, and Aaron, a strong off-season commitment to the new coaching regime, and a strong spring practice session, Jones could end up being a starting OLB in 2012.

Kody Koebensky

  • A 6’3” 303 lb offensive lineman out of Scottsdale Saguaro High School in Scottsdale, AZ where he was a teammate with fellow ’09 signees Corey Adams and Max Smith.  Koebensky redshirted in ’09 and only got into 3 games in 2010 as a reserve offensive lineman.  In 2011, he saw action as the 2nd team center when starter Garth Gerhart suffered an ankle injury.  QB Brock Osweiler stated Koebensky “made the right calls” during his playing time filling in for Gerhart.  Heading into the 2012 season, Koebensky is going to fight for the starting center position.

William Sutton

  • A 6’2” 275 lb defensive tackle out of Corona, CA where he was a teammate of Vontaze Burfict and 2008 ASU signees Brandon Magee and Shelly Lyons.  As a true freshman, Sutton played in 12 games with 17 tackles, 3 of those for loss, and 1 sack.  Sutton’s play is characterized by high energy and never quitting on the field.  After a terrific freshman season, Sutton was declared academically ineligible and he missed the 2010 season.  That year served as a learning experience for him as he returned in 2011 to play in 13 games with 33 tackles, 5.5 of those for loss, and 2.5 sacks.  Sutton is a lighter DT that lives off of his quickness. He was extremely consistent throughout the season making plays in every game where it was clear Sutton works hard and never quits.  That’s a trait he probably learned from his Dad, Mickey Sutton, a cornerback, who played five seasons in the NFL.

Greg Smith

  • A 6’3” 240 lb defensive end out of Perris, CA who excelled at multiple positions on both sides of the ball in high school.  Throughout his ASU career, Smith has been known to be an extremely athletic defensive end with a high motor.  Smith played in 10 games his freshman year, 8 his sophomore year, and 13 his junior year while recording 16 tackles in his career with 2.5 sacks.  Smith is probably most remembered for his strip sack of Matt Barkley, when USC was in the redzone, during the 4th quarter of the 2011 Sun Devil victory in Tempe.

Shane McCullen

  • A 6’2” 210 lb safety out of Apache Junction, AZ who committed to ASU before his senior season in high school.  McCullen was one of those star Arizona high school players who wanted to play for ASU, but he hasn’t seen much playing time.  After redshirting in 2009, he spent the 2010 and 2011 seasons on special teams.  With the new coaching staff, McCullen has a clean slate and he will fight to be a safety with the 1st or 2nd team.

Max Smith

  • A 6’2” 260 lb top ranked Arizona tight end out of Scottsdale Saguaro High School where he was a teammate and good friend of defensive lineman Corey Adams.  Due to the lack of use of a TE in the Noel Mazzone offensive system, Smith mainly saw time in 2010 and 2011 on special teams after redshirting in 2009.  Smith is another player who has to be looking forward to Spring 2012 with a new offense, with his own TE position coach, in an offense that uses a tight end.

JJ Holliday

  • A 6’0” 165 lb burner, deep play threat wide receiver out of Tucson, Arizona.   Holliday redshirted in 2009 and was a special teams contributor in 2010.  Sadly, Holliday broke his collarbone at the beginning of 2011 and missed the first month of the season.  He was never able to climb the depth chart during the season.  Spring 2012 will be critical for Holliday.

Jarrid Bryant

  • A 6’4” 185 lb wide receiver out of Salisbury Prep School in Salisbury, Connecticut where he played WR, CB, and returned kicks.  Bryant signed with ASU 6 days after Signing Day.  Bryant used to live in Corona, California where he played with Corona Centennial guys like Burfict, Magee, and Lyons.  In 2011, Bryant only saw time in 2 games, but he had his 1st catch for 11 yards.

Kipeli Koniseti

  • A 6’3” 235 lb quarterback out of Sacramento, CA . . . he failed to qualify academically for ASU and  ended up playing at a JC

Fred Thornton

  • A 6’4” 310 lb offensive tackle out of Phoenix, AZ . . . he failed to qualify academically for ASU and ended up playing at a JC

2 Junior College Signees

Dean DeLeone

  • A 6’3” 255 lb defensive lineman out of Park City, UT who graduated out of  Orange Coast Junior College in Costa Mesa, Calif in 2008.  DeLeone was 25 years old when he signed with ASU due spending 4 years in the Coast Guard post his high school graduation.  DeLeone spent his 2 years at ASU working hard but only playing as a 2nd team defensive end, and he finished his career in 2010 with 17 career tackles, 4 of those for loss.

LeQuan Lewis

  • A 5’11”/6’0” 195 lb speedster cornerback out of Norwalk, CA who graduated out of Cerritos Junior College in 2008.  Lewis battled Carr and Irabor to start opposite SunDevil stud Omar Bolden, and he finished his Sun Devil career in 2010 with 26 career tackles, 1 INT, and 4 pass break ups.  But Lewis is probably most known for his amazing 103 yard Kickoff return for a TD at USC in 2010 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cRwoCohSrUs)

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