Don Hansen

Why ASU Had to Recruit JC Players


With the Sun Devils second consecutive victory over the Arizona Wildcats in the Territorial Cup game, some comments were made on social media regarding Arizona State Head Coach Todd Graham and his recruitment of junior college players. First, head coaches are paid to win and win from year 1. Head coaches must recruit players who fit their system and fit their program needs. Graham was forced to recruit junior college players because of the recruiting failures from the previous Arizona State football coaching regime.

Former Arizona State Head Coach Dennis Erickson was known as a player’s coach and a top recruiter. In Erickson’s last two recruiting classes as Arizona State Head Coach, 2010 and 2011, he signed 46 total players.  Removing the 9 JC players from 2010 and 2011 who have played and used their eligibility (Bell, De Armas, Elder, Schwab, Simmons, Willie, Ayers, Ross, Hubner), that leaves 35 total players who should be on the current ASU roster as upperclassmen this year. However, there are only 16. Yes, that means 19 players who Erickson has signed have left the program leaving only 16 players across two classes to lead the 2014 Sun Devils.

The list of players no longer with the program:

2010 Signing Day Class (12)

  • WR  Kevin Anderson
  • WR  Randy Knust
  • OL  Calvin Tonga
  • DL  Lee Adams
  • DL  Joita Te’i
  • DE/OLB  Jordan McDonald
  • DE/OLB  Junior Onyeali
  • DB  DJ Spann
  • DB  Ramon Abreu
  • RB  Taylor Walstad
  • RB  Damien Williams
  • TE  Josh Fulton

2011 Signing Day Class (7)

  • QB  Michael Eubank
  • WR  Stanley Absanon
  • WR  Karl Holmes
  • OL  Brent Walker
  • DL  David Moala
  • LB  Israel Marshall
  • DB  Joe Eason

Due to these holes on the roster, Coach Graham was forced to recruit more than the average number of junior college players to ASU. However, Graham and his coaching staff are doing thorough evaluations and smartly choosing their junior college players. In 2012, Graham had to get two year starters running back Marion Grice and linebacker Chris Young. Along with key role players tight end Darwin Rogers (there was no tight ends under previous regime), defensive lineman Jake Sheffield, and wide receiver Alonzo Agwuenu. In 2013, Graham and his staff evaluated and recruited key players who could be in the system for three years, which is unique, like wide receiver Jaelen Strong, linebacker Antonio Longino, defensive end Demetrius Cherry, center Nick Kelly, and cornerback Soloman Means. Until all the years of poor recruiting classes are flushed through the system, the recruitment of experienced junior college players is necessary and thankfully, Graham and his staff are getting more hits than misses at the junior college level.

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!

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