The offensive tackle recruiting misses that plagued former coach Dennis Erickson and the first couple years of Todd Graham’s tenure have hampered Arizona State to some degree this season on the field. The Sun Devils had issues protecting their quarterback at times, and were spotty in the run game. Last week, coaches replaced junior left tackle starter Evan Goodman with redshirt freshman Sam Jones.
Offensive line coach Chris Thomsen’s addition to Todd Graham’s staff in 2013 has been beneficial to recruiting. In the last two classes the Sun Devils have added at least three players (Jones, Zach Robertson and Steve Miller) who are now expected to begin paying dividends next year and beyond, and ASU's had a lot more success in local recruiting.
With ASU set to lose four senior starters and five linemen overall after this season, an inexperienced but talented group should take the field in 2016. However, offensive tackle is still an issue and ASU will look to the junior college ranks in an effort to bolster the depth at the position.
We expect the Sun Devils to at least equal last year's total of four signees in the 2016 class, with one possibly being a junior college tackle recruit. In order to get to their ideal roster number of 15 in any given season, they'll need to take three more commits in addition to the two they already have in the fold, but that's unlikely to happen. ASU likes its 10 returners and will probably end up with a class of three or four.
ASU's two current commits are swing prospect and Under Armour All-American Cohl Cabral, and local interior line prospect Marshal Nathe.
Cabral, the No. 39 ranked offensive tackle prospect nationally and the No. 6 ranked offensive tackle prospect in the West, chose ASU over scholarship offers from Arizona, Cal, Michigan, Oregon, USC and others. He could also play guard or center.
Nathe became the Sun Devils’ first in-state commitment when he chose the program in March immediately upon being extended a scholarship offer. He currently ranks as the No. 1 offensive line prospect in Arizona and the No. 7 offensive guard prospect in the West. He is on track to graduate early and enroll at ASU in January but an ACL tear in his knee could limit his practice time in the spring.
Junior college tackle Garett Bolles is one of the top prospects at his position in the country and a major ASU priority. He is not a candidate to be an early enrollee, something that ASU typically looks for in JUCO prospects so the fact that he has been aggressively recruited by the Sun Devils is a good indication of how highly regarded he is by the program. ASU assistants Mike Norvell and Chip Long visited Bolles' practice on Monday in Utah. He is expected to officially visit ASU.
The Sun Devils are also pursuing junior college offensive tackle prospect Tyson Rising at Ventura College in Ventura, Calif., and Fullerton College offensive tackle Breontae Matthews. It's possible ASU could consider taking two junior college offensive tackles in 2016.
In the high school ranks, ASU is high on Philadelphia Imhotep Institute lineman Johncarlo Valentin and four-star Tramonda Moore from John Marshall High school in Oklahoma City, Okla. Both are huge and physical linemen, with Valentin a pure guard and Moore capable of playing inside or outside.