Rob Malara

Sun Devils Signing Day 2016 Recap


National Signing Day began on early Wednesday morning for the Arizona State Sun Devils with all ten of their verbal commitments in the 2016 recruiting class being locked in before 10am.  In fact, the Devils list of verbals and eight early enrollees had stayed the same since the commitment of its final members, Tyson Rising (Ventura, CA) and A.J. McCollum (San Francisco, CA), back in mid-December.  

Remember, ASU had just completed back-to-back top-25 recruiting classes in 2014 and 2015, so expectations had grown in Tempe leading into 2016.  But, Tuesday brought no surprises on the biggest recruiting day of the year with no last second losses or additions by a team that has been both snake bitten and happily surprised throughout Todd Graham’s prior four recruiting classes.  With the 18 members of the 2016 class, it leaves Graham some flexibility going forward with 6 slots available going forward for transfers or early 2017 class enrollees.

For this current Sun Devils class, it started with strong commitments early on in the cycle as it secured Cohl Cabra (Rancho Cucamonga, CA) back in May of last year with 6-foot-6 defensive lineman Christian Hill (Glendale, AZ) following him later in the month.  Cabral, while ranked a three-star by both Scout and Rivals, has a good chance at being one of the better tackle recruits signed by the Devils in the past few cycles.  Hill, the second ranked junior college player in the nation, looks to follow in the footsteps of NFL Draftees Will Sutton and Marcus Hardison as the next impact defensive lineman in Tempe, whomever his position coach may be.

After landing the commitment of 6-foot-3 defensive back J’Marcus Rhodes (Kilgore, TX) in June, the Devils went on a tear during the month of July with four commitments coming from the likes of Jared Bubak (Lincoln, NE), Jeremy Smith (Missouri City, TX), Robbie Robinson (Hyattsville, MD), and Dillon Sterling-Cole (Houston, TX).  Rhodes is a junior college prospect that will be thrown into a group of returning defensive backs in the Spring looking to replace the likes of three 2015 outgoing starters for the Devils.

Quarterback Sterling-Cole projects to have what is perhaps the biggest upside of any player offensively in 2016 class.  He continues a three-year run of quarterback selections by Graham that includes Manny Wilkins (‘14), Bryce Perkins (‘15), and Brady White (‘15).  This quartet provides new foundation for the next four to five years for offensive coordinator Chip Lindsay heading into his first season with the Devils.

Late fall provided three of what could turn out to be the most most memorable members of the 2016 recruiting class when Subtyl, N’Keal Harry (Chandler, AZ), and Chase Lucas (Chandler, AZ) made their commitments.  For Harry and Lucas, Chandler High products, the Devils were able to secure two of the top five players in the state of Arizona.  

The 6-foot-4 Harry was the highest rated wide receiver prospect in the nation (Graham compared him to Jaelen Strong in an ESPN2 interview) according to Rivals, while his teammate Lucas seems like a perfect fit for Graham, a coach who isn’t afraid to try talented athletic players at multiple positions.  While he was a running back in high school, he’ll start off with the Devils in the defensive backfield.  With the two joining the likes of former Chandler Wolves already on the team in Perkins and offensive lineman Tyler McClure.

The defensive coaching staff will be leaning heavily on Doug Subtyl (Victorville, CA), the best pass rusher of the 2016 class, to help in filling the void at Devil backer after the departure of outgoing senior Antonio Longino and the dismissal of his backup, redshirt freshman Ismael Murphy-Richardson.  If there is a downside, the junior college sack master won’t be eligible to join the team until the summer, looking to grab the vacant starting spot while still learning on the fly during fall camp.  November commit Koron Crump (Fort Scott, KS) gives this team another much needed pass rusher that needs to fill out before he can make an impact with this team.

The December commitment from four-star defensive back Maurice Chandler (Miami, OK) will join Rhodes in giving first year defensive backs coach TJ Rushing another player with above average skills in the height/weight/speed categories with the ability to potentially provide more versatility than his predecessor Kweishi Brown in both types of coverage schemes.  He could see time at either corner or safety by the time the fall rolls around.

McCollum and Rising were the final mid-year commitments in the 2016 class, both of whom look to make an immediate impact in the Sun Devil two-deep come spring practice.  McCollum shows a lot of similarities to outgoing senior center Nick Kelly and could compete with Stephon McCray to start at Kelly’s spot come September.  Rising on the other hand has a handful of players standing in his way whether it’s a spot at guard or tackle.

In terms of misses during this cycle, there were more than a few, as there always are each and every cycle.  On Tuesday alone, the Devils made the final list for the likes of Calvin Bundage and Devaughn Cooper.  During the cycle in-state prospects Byron Murphy and Connor Murphy, not to mention D.J. Morgan, Garrett Rand, Chris Brown, Lamar Jackson, and Chacho Ulloa among others on the national front.

Lucas, ChaseATH6'0180Chandler HS, AZ44444
Harry, N'KealWR6'3210Chandler HS, AZ45434
Subtyl, DougladsonDE6'4250Victor Valley CC, CA44433.75
Sterling-Cole, DillonQB6'3183Westfield HS, TX44433.75
Rhodes, J'MarcusCB6'3195Kilgore College, TX43443.75
Hill, ChristianDE6'6260Glendale, AZ34443.75
Chandler, MauriceCB6'2195NE Oklahoma A&M, OK33443.5
Cabral, CohlOT6'5255Los Osos HS, CA33443.5
Turner, TreRB5'9191Holy Cross HS, LA33433.25
Robinson, RobbieCB5'9165Dematha Catholic HS, MD34333.25
Crump, KoronDE6'4220Fort Scott CC, KS43333.25
Williams, KyleWR5'11180Vista Murrieta HS, CA33333
Smith, JeremyWR6'2180Marshall HS, TX33333
Rising, TysonOT6'4280Ventura CC, CA333N/A3
Nathe, MarshalOG6'3285Centennial HS, AZ33333
McCollum, A.J.C6'1290City College of San Francisco, CA33333
Bubak, JaredTE6'4240Lincoln Christian HS, NE33333
Darby, FrankWR6'1180Lincoln HS, NJ32332.75
Sleep-Dalton, MichaelP6'2205City College of San Francisco, CA32N/A32.66666666667
Smith, JackS6'1185Mountain Point, AZ23222.33333333333
Losoya, AlexOG6'4300Orange Coast CC, CA N/A
Guignard, DeionS6'3205Tyler CC, TX N/A

For the Devils, however, it was more about the players they held on to during the stretch run, than those they were able to land over the last month and a half.  And even if as the day closes, Graham will not have three straight top-25 classes, there’s still room for improvement in 2016.  While the “quality over quantity” line will be used a lot, we’ve seen this team go out and sign players after Signing Day that went on to contribute.  With those six slots available to sign additional talent similar to what was done in 2015 with the likes of Terrell Chapman and Devin Lucien.

The eight junior college players will of course raise some eyebrows.  But if you have to go the junior college route, you might as well get the best of the best, with the Devils finishing with the top-ranked junior college class.  In terms of overall rankings, the Devils will fall short of the previous two classes, but still managed to bring in at least six four star players according to Scout.  

Improving their pass rush, secondary depth, offensive line, and special teams were identified by Graham as the biggest needs of this class.  For the most part the Devils checked off all of those boxes. Signing Byron Murphy would have been the icing on the cake for this class in that he was both the secondary talent this team could use immediately while also being one of the best players in the state of Arizona.

When comparing the Sun Devils class to its fellow Pac-12 members, ASU slots in just behind the likes of recruiting stalwarts USC, UCLA, Stanford and right around that of Oregon.

Moving forward Graham looks good in the offensive skill categories but might look to add another player at the receiver position just to add some veteran stability.  The same goes should the Devils be lucky enough either at Devil backer or at any of the secondary spots.  The impact addition of Lucien doesn’t happen every year and may have spoiled the fan base in some regards.  But it definitely gives something to dream on as we move forward from the winter into the spring.

For more information on the Sun Devils 2016 class, check out or 2016 Class Page for ratings and videos from the major recruiting services.

About Rob Malara

Rob Malara

Rob Malara is a 2002 Sun Devil grad having spent the majority of his time in Tempe as a football, basketball, and baseball season ticket holder and front row inhabitant. A member of the Football Writers Association of America, he hosted the ASU Devils podcast and was its sub-optimal technical producer through its lifespan. Currently the president of the ASU Alumni Association's Northern Colorado Club, he is part of a family of maroon and gold residing in Fort Collins with his Sun Devil wife and nearby Sun Devil sister.

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