Introducing the 2003 Class: Daniel Varvel

When you look at ASU's 4-2-5 defensive alignment and the three safeties it employs, it is only natural for the program to attract top-flight prospects at that position. Daniel Varvel is a pure example of this. DevilsDigest recently sat down with the Sun Devils' incoming freshman to talk about his journey to ASU, and the transition he is going though these days from high school football to the college level.

"ASU started recruiting me the end of my junior year." Says Varvel who was rated the fifth best safety in the West by "(ASU's defensive line) Coach Monachino told me how interested they were in me, and they kept on talking to me all the time during my senior year." Varvel mentioned that aside from ASU, Fresno St. offered him a scholarship, and schools such as Colorado, UCLA, and Stanford also showed great interest.

The Sun Devils' persistence paid off when Varvel accepted an invitation for an official visit to Tempe – a visit that ultimately landed him with the maroon and gold. "My host player was Jason Shivers. He showed me the works. He answered my questions in depth. He told me about the school and if there was any hazing (smile). He didn't beat around the bush, and he kept it real with me." Aside from the good rapport he had with ASU's leading tackler, he mentioned other attributes that have been shared by many other prospects who had visited Tempe. "I really liked the team unity, and how they were all close to each other. I just felt this was a program on the rise, and it had a bright future…after that visit to Arizona State, I just knew that's where I'm going."

Even though he played on his high school offense as a running back and a wide receiver, Varvel claims that here at ASU he's a "Defensive player all the way." As a senior at Bakersfield high school he posted 120 tackles, two caused fumbles, and five interceptions. Consequently, he led his team in solo tackles, tackle assists and interceptions, and won the Frank Gifford Award, given to the best defensive back at Bakersfield High School in 2002 despite lettering only two years in football. The safety assesses his skills as follows: "My strength is reading the ball. I like being physical, and I'm not afraid to stick my neck in there even if the guy I'm tackling is much bigger. I'm always ready to meet the challenge. You can always improve on everything, and I definitely need to work on my speed, and my backpedaling. I also want to get stronger in the weight room."

These days the safety is participating in the school's bridge program, which is designed to ease the transition of incoming freshman into ASU. Varvel is also partaking in the team's off-season conditioning program, under the grueling sun and record heat that has descended on the valley as of late. "It also gets to be in the 100's where I'm from, but it's nothing like the heat down here. Back home the wind is cool when it blows on you. Over here it's hot wind (smile). But I've been dealing with it...It's really helping me. I was trying to do some conditioning before I got here, but it's nothing like this. You come down and it's an organized program, and people push you all the time. In the workouts there's no messing around. If the coach says don't bend over and put your hands on your knees when you're not running – you don't do it. That's the disciplinary step you have to take. I think the workouts put everybody in the bridge program ahead." Nevertheless, the former Bakersfield standout does admit that living away from home does have its disadvantages along with the sense of freedom. "It's definitely a transition, but being away from home isn't a new thing for me. I wasn't restricted, and I was always out a lot. Here there are no parents to tell you what to do. But food is definitely a big transition. I've eaten Burger King three weeks straight. It's kinda fun, but I miss Mom's cooking."

Another value to being on campus early, according to the safety, is establishing the chemistry with his teammates, and following the returning players' lead. "The veterans are really being role models and having a positive attitude. They know what they're doing, and they're not being shy with us and saying ‘you have to learn on your own.' They really are helping us (newcomers) a lot. They all have high hopes, and want nothing less than a Pac-10 championship."

On a personal level, Varvel, like any other newcomer, is hopeful to make an early and positive impression that could aid him in not redshirting this year. The safety is more than ready to put in the effort to fulfill that goal. "Coaches are telling us that they need guys to play that are young. So we're (the newcomers) supposed to have the attitude that we are fighting for a spot, and that's what I'm doing. If the opportunity arises for me to play right away, then I will definitely want to do it." Varvel would accept the possibility of redshirting, not only to further grow and learn, but also because of what lies on the horizon. "You come in and see guys that are juniors and seniors. You know that they'll be gone soon and that's a chance for you to play early." Overall, he feels that his skills suit the style of defense ASU runs. "I find it interesting how the defense works, because I feel I can come in right away and show my skills. In this defense you step up and hit, and not sit back and wait for the play. That's what I really like."

The safety plans to head home after the end of the bridge program, but he won't be vacationing back in Bakersfield. "It's my high school's ‘hell week', and I'm gonna go there and try and stay in shape and give those guys a hard time (smile). I just want to come back to school with the right mindset and ready for the season." Up until now, Daniel Varvel has done everything he can to prepare for the 2003 campaign. In a little over a month, we will all know if he will join some other talented newcomers who's skills are needed immediately for what should be the best season in Dirk Koetter's ASU tenure.

Recruit Profile

Name Daniel Varvel

High School Bakersfield HS (Bakersfield, CA)

Position Safety

Height 6-3

Weight 190

Date of Birth 2/15/85

Birthplace San Luis Obispo, CA

Nickname "De-Villian."

Favorite TV Show "MTV Cribs."

Favorite Movie "Braveheart."

Favorite Singer "DMX"

Favorite Food "An African dish called FuFu. Nobody makes it better than my Mom (smile)."

Favorite Drink "Water. Can't get enough of it now (smile)."

Favorite Athlete "Charles Woodson."

Favorite Pro Team "Oakland Raiders."

Person you most admire "My Mom. She comes from Togo, Africa. She left her family and everything there. She's been through a lot, and still going strong. She's an inspiration."

First Football Memory "My first scrimmage game in seventh grade. I was playing defensive end, and a jumped on a fumble. Somebody fell on me on the way down; I landed awkward and dislocated my pinky finger. I got up and my finger was all the way to the side (smile). I didn't want to tell my coach, because he would take me out and think I was weak. So, I slammed my hand down and straighten it back up, and kept on playing."

One Thing most people don't know about me "I like Art. I like to draw and write poetry."

Why did you choose ASU? "They way the run the defense – it caters to the safeties."

Where do you want to be in ten years? "I just want to be successful wherever I'm at. I want to get my degree, and get a job or if I'm blessed to play in the NFL. I just want to know that I can say that I got through this level (in college) and I was successful."

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