Ideal scholarship roster number: 15
Likely returning number: 11
Commitments: 1 (Marshal Nathe)
Remaining ideal number: 3
The Skinny: Even after signing five offensive line commits in the 2015 class, the position group remains one of need for Arizona State in the year ahead. Odds are good the Sun Devils will attempt to sign at least four players in 2016 as they attempt to work back to their ideal goal of 15 on scholarship players in the group in any given season.
If ASU can secure a good haul in 2016, it'll go a long way to securing the health of the group for the foreseeable future, particularly if the last cycle proves as fruitful as it appears to have been on paper. It's possible ASU may have as many as eight or nine youngsters at the group over a two-class period, depending on whether ASU goes the junior college route for one or more of its 2016 additions.
Odds are pretty good the Sun Devils will try to sign at least one junior college tackle in 2016, so with Monday's commitment of Peoria (Ariz.) Centennial offensive guard Marshal Nathe, it is getting a good jump start at the position. From here we expect the Sun Devils will attempt to sign another interior lineman and at least one high school offensive tackle in addition to a junior college tackle. They'll probably take as many as five at the position group in the class though if they really like a fifth recruit they can sign if it gets to that point.
In Nathe, ASU got the No. 1 ranked in-state guard in 2016, which builds upon the program's offensive line success achieved locally by position coach Chris Thomsen and the rest of the staff after they signed two of the top three lineman prospects in Arizona in 2015, Steve Miller and Cade Cote.
ASU saw the best in-state lineman leave Arizona one after another over a long term period that ran through the Dennis Erickson era and into the start of Todd Graham's tenure at the school, but the tide appears to be changing in that regard.
Nathe plays with a type of unbridled passion that mirrors the words he used upon his commitment to ASU. He's a lineman who is flexible, has a good base set up, and really understands how to run his feet and drop his center of gravity through engagement as a run blocker. He also is committed to finishing blocks completely though the whistle, putting his target in the ground whenever possible, a disposition that frequently separates comparably talented players.
The way Nathe uses his feet actively and with good composure when locked up as a run blocker enables him to tap into his functional power better than a lot of similarly sized talented linemen at the high school level. When he has a rare lapses, usually it's being lazy or slow with his hands coming up and being outside the framework.
As a pull/range and second level blocker, Nathe has above average to very good vision and feel, though he'll need to work on avoiding false steps and be more committed to aggressive, explosive steps when uncoiling from a 3-point stance to more quickly get to spots on the field. He tends to avoid getting tangled in traffic without taking his eyes down, and anticipates blocks quite well, with active eyes. He also tends to be poised and play within himself. Though he's just an average athlete among BCS offensive guard prospects, Nathe has very serviceable range and should be fine within an ASU structure that likes to put its offensive guards in a lot of space.
One of the most impressive attributes about Nathe is how well he stays within his frame vertically and shows great posture and technique as a pass protector. A lot of players in high school reach, are top heavy and are disjoined in their movements in this regard but Nathe is quite good, and his patience is a major plus. He uses his feet economically as a pass blocker as well, and that tends to keep him well balanced.
Nate doesn't present as a four or five star elite level prospect on film, primarily due to his moderate ratio of height/body structure to athleticism/foot speed at 6-foot-3 and 285 pounds, and those are the things that have contributed to a lack of BCS offers to this point. But he's a passionate, determined player who has a lot of positives from a skill standpoint and as an in-state player is a very reasonable scholarship offer and commitment to take.