Chase Lucas evaluation; ASU defensive back analysis

What's Arizona State getting in Chandler High School star running back Chase Lucas, the No. 299 overall prospect in the 2016 class.

Cornerbacks/Field Safeties

Ideal scholarship roster number: 11-12

Potential returning number: 6-7 (Armand Perry Kareem OrrJayme OtomewoChad AdamsDeAndre Scott*, Tyler WhileyStanley Norman^)

* Has practiced at Bandit, Spur and some corner earlier on at ASU. Is likely a Spur

^ grayshirt who is expected to enroll at ASU in the spring

Likely returning number: 6-7

2016 Commitments: 3 (J'Marcus RhodesRobbie RobinsonChase Lucas)

Remaining ideal number: 2-3

Top remaining targets:  Maurice Chandler, Byron MurphyJack JonesC.J. PollardLamar JacksonChris Brown

Perhaps the best thing about four-star athlete Chase Lucas (No. 2 "athlete" position designation in Arizona, No. 11 in West, No. 299 overall prospect in 2016 Scout300) as a football prospect is his multi-positional versatility when projecting him to the college level. He's not a guy who has to work out at one position and if he doesn't, he's not going to be able to have a successful career. 

At the high school level, Lucas primarily plays running back and it makes sense because teams want to get the ball in the hands of their best players as much as possible, so that means a lot of guys who wind up playing other positions in college are quarterbacks and running backs in high school. 

But Lucas does have the potential to play running back in college in the right system. Long and angular at 6-foot and 170-odds pounds, he's probably not best suited to be a between-the-tackles workhorse running back. A scheme that gets him into a lot of outside sweeps and zone stretch type runs makes more sense, and two-back formations in which he is used as a motion or slot back and pass catcher are the most logical. 

Lucas also could play wide receiver. It's not a role he's played a lot in high school, but when he runs longer routes out of the backfield he does so with enough poise and physical skills to evoke an image of him playing on the perimeter. The best attributes for Lucas with the ball in his hands is vision and how well he uses that tool as a fluid and efficient ball carrier in the open field. In this regard, he's a good kickoff return candidate. 

It takes even more imagination to picture Lucas playing as a defensive back in college because he's not been used hardly at all in regular high school games in this capacity. But this could easily be the position at which Lucas has the highest ceiling, and I'd argue that probably is the case. 

It also makes a lot of sense for Arizona State to recruit Lucas as a defensive athlete first and foremost who could ultimately transition to playing some or a lot of offense in addition to defense.

Lucas has the physical stature of a cornerback more than any other position, lanky and lean. He hasn't really started to add maturation strength and muscle yet though that will come in the next few years and it's actually a good thing for his prospects as a football player because he hasn't nearly fully maxed out yet in this regard. He doesn't have the sub-11 second 100 meter dash explosive speed or violent ability to re-direct that elite receivers have nor the stature of an every down back at the highest college level or beyond. 

In the ASU defense, cornerbacks don't need to have elite speed. As an example, senior Lloyd Carrington is an above average Pac-12 corner at worst and is probably a 4.6 40-yard dash guy. Lucas will easily be able to carry 185 pounds or more and be rangier than some of the cornerbacks who have started for the Sun Devils under Graham. 

Ultimately, the highest upside position for Lucas may be safety, though whether that's his best position in college remains to be seen. ASU's system actually has more need for raw speed at safety and especially on the field side, than at cornerback given the way in which that position is so often put into man conflict situations in wide open areas of field. 

Lucas would certainly have the size and athleticism to play at least three and maybe four of the defensive back positions at ASU, and perhaps at a very high level. Though he hasn't played much defensive back at Chandler, there have been times in 7-on-7 or other settings, according to coaches at the school, that Lucas has been asked to play in man coverage against an opponent's best receiver and he's locked that player up just on natural ability. 

If there is a downside to Lucas, it's probably how the lack of a clear-cut position can be a double-edged sword. He's not obviously a great natural fit on defense since he hasn't played there much, isn't obviously a great wide receiver prospect, since he's not been used in that fashion, and isn't a clear-cut Pac-12 starter-caliber running back given his size and athletic type. 

Certainly that's not a red flag as to whether or not Lucas should be heavily recruited by ASU. He's one of the top two or three players on arguably the state's best high school team in each of the last two seasons. That's someone who automatically deserves an early offer and to be made a priority target. 

The addition of Lucas for the Sun Devils is huge on the heels of wide receiver teammate N'Keal Harry's commitment to the school a week earlier in terms of what it does from a momentum standpoint and as a leveraging tool. In some ways, that's the biggest aspect of this story. It's not that Lucas or Harry are difference makers in and of themselves given the positions they play and their overall profile, but they ease the burden of ASU coaches in the local recruiting landscape. 

Each additional local commitment makes the next one a bit easier and there could easily become a tipping point as a result of the cumulation of local star players that changes the feel of local recruiting quite significantly. If the Harry and Lucas commitments act as a springboard to ASU also getting Saguaro's Byron Murphy, the Sun Devils would be accomplishing something they've never done before. 

Not since 2008 has two Scout300 in-state four-star recruits signed with ASU, Gerell Robinson and Zach Schlink. In the five classes since, ASU has signed just four in-state Scout300 prospects total, and none in two classes, 2011 and 2015. To sign three would be an enormous accomplishment, and even bigger because the players are at two of the state's largest talent producers and on the heels of a 2015 class which saw ASU sign Chandler quarterback Bryce Perkins and two offensive linemen. The top local quarterbacks and offensive linemen haven't stayed in Arizona in recent years. 

Additionally, the Sun Devils signed their best-regarded class of the recruiting-service era (15-plus years) in 2015 and are not on the precipice of having a chance to follow that up with a roughly comparable effort, give or take, if they can close out the next three months in strong fashion. Immediately following Lucas' commitment, ASU ranked No. 29 in the national team recruiting rankings on Scout, and only four schools had the same number or fewer commits than the Sun Devils among those ranked higher. That bodes very well for ASU's chances to rise in the rankings if it can continue to add highly regarded prospects. 

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