Wide receiver Jaelen Strong.
In 2012, the Pierce College star caught 67 passes for 1,263 yards with 15 touchdowns in 10 games. Do I really need to further explain why he gets my vote here? It's only fitting that he committed on Christmas because he stands to be the biggest present this recruiting class received in the last several months. Oh, did we mentioned that he will have three years of eligibility? We talked ad nauseam about ASU's wide receiver struggles in 2012. If Strong qualifies academically he will make the Sun Devil nation quickly forget about those days as we witness what should be one of the bona fide stars of this ASU offense in 2013.
Defensive MVR (most valuable recruit)
Defensive lineman Marcus Hardison.
Even with the return of Will Sutton, there was little doubt that the ASU defensive line was lacking depth going into 2013. With the addition of the 6-5 290 Dodge City (Kan.) standout, who had close to 25 offers from coast to coast, depth at this position should be the least of ASU's worries. Much like Sutton, Hardison is athletic and strong enough to play several positions on the Sun Devil defensive front. The Sun Devil staff wanted to maintain its attacking style defense from last season and with newcomers such as Hardison in the fold that task got that much easier.
Wide receiver Jaelen Strong for the reasons mentioned above.
Immediate impact on offense (aside from MVR)
Tight end De'Marieya Nelson.
I know some of you are "tired" of hearing how this Delta College transfer is the epitome of the 3–back position in ASU's offense and how he possesses incredible versatility (can also play running back and wide receiver). Yet, that doesn't diminish the fact that the Sun Devils landed a player who can often share the field with returning tight end Chris Coyle and do nothing but enhance the already great effect that Coyle has on this ASU offense. I personally cannot wait to see how potent this offense can be in a two-tight end set and Nelson is a big reason for that.
Immediate impact on defense (aside from MVR)
Defensive back Damarious Randall.
Last season, the local Mesa Community College star had nine interceptions and eight passes broken up and all this in his first year of playing football at the junior college level as he was forced due to injury to forgo a baseball career. Has the size and skill to play both as a corner and a safety. He dominated one of the tougher junior college divisions in the country and received numerous awards recognizing him for his effort. The ASU secondary was quite the ball hawking group last season and in that aspect Randall should fit in just fine.
Steal of the Class
Wide receiver Cameron Smith.
The "Huddle junkies" among us have talked about Smith in this vein ever since he committed six days ago. His game films speaks for itself in terms of a blazing fast receiver who can give this ASU unit the much needed deep threat it lacked at times in 2012. Luckily for ASU, even though Smith played in one of the bigger conferences in Texas, at Coppell High School, a junior year shorten by injury allowed him to go unnoticed by programs coming into his senior season. The Sun Devils identified him early enough in the process and establish a strong enough relationship to successfully fend off the likes of Nebraska, Oklahoma State and Iowa among others.
Athlete Marcus Ball.
Granted, I did predict a couple weeks back that the Westerville, Ohio standout was going to ink his name with the Sun Devils today, but that doesn't diminish the fact that ASU was able not only to pluck a prospect from the heart of Big Ten country who had an gaudy number of offers, but also to have him decommit from a school, in Wisconsin, where his brother (Ray Ball) plays. All in all, very impressive feat and good to see recruiting efforts with a player located a good couple of thousand miles away from Tempe pay off so nicely. Will start fall camp as a safety but can also play the 3-back.
Tight end Grant Martinez.
The local Notre Dame Prep is a tall (6-5 210-pound) receiving tight end with great athleticism for his size. Naturally will have to pack on 30 or more pounds to be effective at this level, but as a son of an ASU graduate you know that Martinez won't shy from hard work and is poised to be the tight end of the future for this Sun Devil program.
Patience is a virtue
Defensive line Corey Smith.
As a freshman he may get lost in the mix, and that's assuming he won't redshirt (which is way too early to predict at this point). But you can't coach someone to be 6-7 (and he's 260 lbs. to boot) and once the depth chart is more favorable with the departure of some junior college players I really expect to see someone who can truly justify being, as Head Coach Todd Graham described, "a jewel in this class."
Best recruit to exemplify "High Octane"
Defensive lineman Kisima Jagne.
The former local Chandler High School star has to be the biggest proverbial athletic freak in this class. At 6-5 265 lbs. he passes the eyeball test with no effort. Runs a 40-yard dash in the 4.6's which gives him great pass rushing skills. Recorded ten sacks as a senior and averaged ten tackles a contest during the same campaign. While ASU racked up an impressive number of sacks in 2012 you would be hard pressed to say that it had a dominant every down defensive end who contributed to that overall effort (didn't forget about Carl Bradford but he is a hybrid linebacker/defensive end). Jagne fills an immediate need and I truly believe he will be more of the more impactful newcomers in 2013.
Best recruit to exemplify "All In"
Defensive lineman Nick Begg.
It's no secret that the Rancho Santa Margarita (Calif.) High School standout was yearning to be a Sun Devil several months before he was offered in July of last year (and he subsequently pledged to ASU shortly after that offer). Therefore, no one would blame him if he decided to explore other options when the ASU staff asked him to greyshirt and thus be on scholarship only starting in January of next year. Begg accepted that fate and is actually scheduled to enroll at ASU in the Fall and pay his own way for that semester. Enough said.
Favorite recruit to interview
Linebacker Chans Cox.
I was fortunate to talk some really thoughtful and/or funny prospects in this class, but I want to give this award for someone that hasn't been mentioned yet in our other categories. To say that the Blue Ridge High School star is mature beyond his years doesn't come close to describing his exceptional personality. And it doesn't hurt as a reporter that he was always quick to return your call and give you good length interviews.
Describe ASU's 2013 recruiting class in 140 characters or less
ASU's class ranking may not turn many heads, but the quality of newcomers and the areas of need they fill will prove plenty impressive.