Sun Devil pledges react to rivalry loss

Among the dozen plus official visitors to Tempe this past weekend were also some of ASU's 2012 recruiting class commits. The future of head coach Dennis Erickson following the 31-27 loss to Arizona is tenuous, but how did that game's outcome affect the status of some of prospects who already pledged to play for the Sun Devils? We spoke with three of them following their visit.

Devils Digest caught up with linebacker Carlos Mendoza, and offensive linemen Stephon McCray and Dylan La Frenz and found out that all three aren't backing down from their Arizona State commitment, although their level of commitment does vary from player to player. ***

"I had a lot of fun taking to all the players and coaches," Mendoza said. "Experiencing the game atmosphere was great. That was really the thing that was different from my first visit (in the spring) – just walking on the field, seeing the crowd yelling…that was my favorite part.

"I was really surprised to see how much the school cares about your education. They aren't just concerned with how you play football. That shows that they are a great program."

The Oaks Christian two-way player commented that the Duel in the Desert loss he witnessed wasn't going to change his stance with the school he verbally committed to. Consequently, a potential coaching change would not necessarily prompt him to renege on his pledge.

"I made my commitment, I'm going to stick to it and that is what I want to do," Mendoza said. "I like the team, this is where I wanted to go and I didn't commit there for nothing. I don't have any visits set up to anywhere else."

"I'm not sure right now what I would do if there was a coaching change. I know I like the staff they have right now."


McCray said that prior to his Tempe visit he had already scheduled a visit with Fresno State on December 9th, and plans to also visit Iowa State sometime before Letter of Intent Day. Yet, the Fresno Bullard standout claimed that his commitment to ASU is on solid ground.

"Nothing has really changed," McCray said. "I really still like ASU. I like the school, I like the coaches. I want to be on this team.

"With my other visits – I just want to see what's out there. Fresno State has been talking to me for a long time and I don't want to short them like that. Iowa State was one of the only schools that still stayed on me after my commitment to Arizona State and I never been to Iowa."

McCray said that he viewed game film from the Arizona contest with (offensive line) coach Smith, viewing the assignments and protections that took place Saturday night.

"Looking at 50 plays most of the assignments looked right," McCray described. "There may have been two instances where the snap count was misunderstood and a couple of times blitzes were not picked up. Other than that the line pretty much did their job."

McCray confessed that a possible coaching change at Arizona State would certainly give him reason to pause.

"I never went through a situation where college coaches were replaced," McCray stated. "But I guess if that happened I would be looking around. You don't know if the new coaches would like me.

"ASU is still a good destination and if that were to happen and the got a new coach I still wouldn't mind going there. But definitely my main reason for going there right now are the coaches that are there right now. ***

La Frenz visited Tempe for the first time since tripping to the Sun Devils back in April for their Junior Day event and said that he enjoyed the more individualized attention he received on this last trip.

"They really cater to you and you get to spend a lot more time with the coaches and players," La Frenz stated. "I got to see a lot of the same stuff but it was just more advanced. And the food on the trip was great (laughs).

"The atmosphere at the game…it was just crazy out there. I can definitely see myself going there for the next four years and coming through that (Tillman) Tunnel onto the field. I was hosted by Evan Finkenberg and he said how much he likes coach Smith and how nice of a person he is."

La Frenz commented that coach Smith like his combination of strength and athleticism and that he is being looked at guard or center, and while he prefers the former he would like to fill any role that gets him quicker on the field.

The lineman said that the loss doesn't affect his commitment to ASU and he doesn't see himself taking other official visits. He admitted that California has contacted him since his October 27th pledge to ASU, but there are not an option he is pursuing. La Frenz couldn't speculate at this time whether a possible coaching change in Tempe would cause him to reconsider his pledge.

"It hasn't happened," he said of that scenario, "so I really can't comment on that. I can get used to a new coaching staff if that happened and get to know them."

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