Signing Day 2014: ASU Lands A Top Class
By William Boor
Fresh off back-to-back bowl games, an appearance in the Pac-12 championship game and an 8-1 conference record, Arizona State kept its momentum rolling right through National Signing Day.
Since he arrived in Tempe two years ago, nearly everything coach Todd Graham has accomplished has excited the fans following 8-5 and 10-4 seasons. Wednesday was no exception as the Sun Devils signed 26 players and turned in a highly rated recruiting class.
Graham and his staff were able to put together such a strong recruiting class not only because of the on-field success of the program, but because of ASU's plans to revamp the stadium.
“I think there's no question about that,” Graham said during a press conference. “I think the commitment that our university is making to put this new stadium in, I think is big. It shows commitment to want to be a top-five program in the country. That's our goal. We want to be a team that year in and year out is winning the Pac-12 and winning Rose Bowl championships.”
Rivals.com rated ASU's class No. 21 in the nation and Scout.com ranked ASU No. 17 — the highest the team has ever finished in both ratings.
ASU signed 10 players on offense and 15 players on defense. The class was made up of players from 11 states with 10 recruits from California and three from Arizona.
A look at the top recruits:
Connor Humphreys (Portland, Ore., Central Catholic High)
Humphreys was one of the best defensive tackles on the West Coast. He was selected as a Second-Team All-America player by USA Today and played in the 2014 U.S. Army All-American Game. Humphreys accumulated 43 tackles, five sacks and seven tackles-for-loss in his senior season.
“He's a guy that'll play nose tackle for us,” Graham said. “Big, physical, inside guy, and a guy that we think can come in and be impactful for us."
D.J. Calhoun (El Cerrito, Calif., El Cerrito High)
Calhoun, a four-star prospect, also participated in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl Game and was selected as a captain for the West team. Calhoun is one of the top linebackers in the country.
Calhoun enrolled at ASU in January and has already started working out with the Sun Devils.
“D.J. Is a guy that possesses great blitz ability, very, very smart,” Graham said. “Obviously that's key in playing in our system. I think he's one of the best linebackers in the country. The thing that stuck out to me more than anything recruiting him is his character and his leadership.”
Demario Richard (Palmdale, Calif., Palmdale High)
Richard is regarded as one of the top running backs in the West. He participated in the 2014 Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl. Richard had a three-year varsity career in high school in which he carried the ball 503 times for 4,251 yards (8.5 yards per carry) with 63 touchdowns.
“A guy that's just a dynamic inside zone runner that we think (has) tremendous potential and obviously we had a need there,” Graham said. “We're excited about what he brings. He caught our eye early.”
Tyler Whiley (Scottsdale, Chaparral High)
Whiley is a huge get for ASU not only because he is an elite recruit, but also because he is an in-state recruit. In-state recruiting is something Graham has been looking to improve.
Whiley played in the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl and played both wide receiver and safety in high school.
“You can see he's one of the top-rated prospects out of the state of Arizona, and comes from obviously a winning program,” Graham said. “So proud of him in kind of the same regard as I am of D.J. Foster, a guy that could have went anywhere. He said, 'coach, why would I go anywhere else when you can win championships right here in the Valley?'”
Eric Lauderdale (Fayetteville, Ga., Saddleback College)
For the second straight year, the Sun Devils will look to a junior college transfer to make an impact at receiver. Last year, Jaelen Strong made a big impact for ASU. In 2014, Graham hopes the tandem of Lauderdale and Strong will help light up scoreboards.
“I think he will be a great tandem with Jaelen and a guy that really has big play, explosive capabilities,” Graham said. “He told me today he had 15 people calling him this morning and we were a little upset with him because he was one of the last ones to get his papers in. But we're very, very excited to have him.”
Manny Wilkins (Novato, Calif., San Marin High)
Wilkins has been committed to ASU for a while and actually became one of the Sun Devils' best recruiters.
Wilkins is a talented quarterback, but he has also shown impressive maturity and leadership skills as he was vocal and prominent in trying to persuade other top talents from California to join him in Tempe.
“Really excited about Manny,” Graham said. “One of the Top 10 quarterbacks in the country, a guy that is just a tremendous young man. You see his stats, they speak for themselves.”
Coltin Gerhart (Murietta, Calif., Vista Murietta High)
Gerhart is not only a football prospect, but a baseball prospect as well. He is the younger brother of Toby (former Stanford running back and Heisman Trophy runner-up) and Garth (ASU offensive lineman from 2008-11).
Gerhart will also try to become the first player since Brandon Magee to play both baseball and football at ASU.
“This guy is tough,” Graham said. “I like that in a quarterback."
Quinn Bailey, OL (Gilbert, Higley High)
Kalen Ballage, RB (Peyton, Colo., Falcon High)
Edmond Boateng, DL (Wesley Chapel, Fla., New Mexico Military Institute)
Kweishi Brown, DB (El Cajon, Calif., Grossmont College)
Darrius Caldwell, LB (Atlanta, Pearl River Community College)
Jalen Harvey, WR (El Cerrito, Calif., El Cerrito High)
De'Chavon Hayes, RB (Richmond, Va., Lackawanna College)
Sam Jones, OL (Highlands Ranch, Colo., Thunder Ridge High)
Brendan Landman, TE (Danville, Calif., Monte Vista High)
Ismael Murphy-Richardson, LB (Goodyear, Desert Edge High)
Armand Perry, DB (Las Vegas, Nev., Bishop Gorman High)
Christian Sam, LB (Allen, Texas, Allen High)
DeAndre Scott, DB (Philadelphia, Imhotep Institute Charter High)
Jamal Scott, LB (Anaheim, Calif., Magnolia High)
Tashon Smallwood, DL (Fresno, Calif., Central High)
Dalvon Stuckey, DL (De Funiak Springs, Fla., Pearl River Community College)
Desmond Tautalatasi, DB (Concord, Calif., De La Salle High)
Renell Wren, DL (St. Louis, Lutheran North High)