With four senior offensive line starters departing, Arizona State has done a good job replenishing itself at the position group for the second class in a row. This time they've added two junior college mid-year transfers -- center A.J. McCollum and tackle/guard Tyson Rising -- to to help offset those loses and increase competition immediately as they look to settle on replacements in 2016. The Sun Devils have also landed two high school offensive linemen, versatile Cohl Cabral and local mid-year signee Marshal Nathe.
To turn a very good offensive line class into a great one, the Sun Devils could still earn a commitment from five-star Snow College offensive tackle Garett Bolles, the nation's No. 1 overall junior college prospect. ASU offensive line coach Chris Thomsen was one of several position coaches who recently attended Bolles' wedding. Arkansas and Utah are also very involved, with Oregon and Michigan State still garnering some consideration. Bolles' wife has family in the Phoenix-area, which is one potential factor in ASU's favor.
The two biggest needs for the Sun Devils in 2016 recruiting are offensive line and defensive backs and it's not a coincidence that nearly half of its current commit is comprised of the two position groups. Just as ASU has done very well at recruiting offensive linemen, so too has it addressed its needs in the defensive backfield. Junior college additions Maurice Chandler and J'Marcus Rhodes are immediate impact recruits with size and athleticism, a major element of what's needed as an infusion into the program. Chase Lucas is a local four-star Scout300 prospect with a lot of position versatility, and Robbie Robinson is undersized but extremely mobile and dynamic.
All four of the commits are in the cornerback/field safety category that we group together in ASU recruiting, so the haul could be complete and successful as is. Even so, it could turn into an absolute grand slam if the Sun Devils could also add Byron Murphy from Scottsdale Saguaro. Murphy is arguably the top overall recruit in Arizona in 2016 and one of the top cornerback prospects in the West without question. ASU has been the favorite in recent months but will have to hold off USC, Washington and Texas A&M. A decision was initially expected to come in late December, but Murphy will not likely visit USC in January before making an announcement.
Even though the Sun Devils added a four-star junior college player who could play some Spur in Koron Crump, it's not a sure thing that Crump will be able to play the position on base downs and may end up being utilized as a pass rush specialist in the short term with Devil backer or even perhaps WILL being more of a long term every down position. ASU doesn't have a true full service Spur in its 2016 recruiting class and the one who jumps off the screen on film evaluation as a prototype prospect at the position is four-star Calvin Bundage from Santa Fe High School in Oklahoma.
Bundage visited ASU just about three weeks ago and gave the trip a '10' on a scale of 1-10. He also said he was going to likely take several official visits in January though before coming to a final conclusion on a college. The Scout300 prospect also has been considering Arkansas, Michigan, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Tennessee. A commitment from the 6-foot-3, 200 pound Bundage would boost ASU's future at the Spur position.
While ASU has earned commitments from four defensive backs already in the 2016 class, none are forecast to initially play the Bandit safety position, and it's a spot at which it loses senior starter Jordan Simone. The Sun Devils have a few options who can play the position heading into next season, with a multitude of different configurations we've seen explored even in recent weeks after Simone was lost for the season with several games remaining.
Even so, if ASU could successfully snare a high profile high school recruit who is a prototype Bandit, it would be a significant and important accomplishment. There's one clear player on the Sun Devils' recruiting board who fits this position perfectly and it's four-star Scout300 prospect Lamar Jackson, a 6-foot-2, 210 pound safety at Franklin High School in Elk Grove, California. Jackson's film reminds of a bigger and slightly more athletic version of former ASU Bandit Alden Darby, a standout in ASU coach Todd Graham's defensive scheme several years ago. Jackson visited ASU in September and gave the trip high marks, but is still considering Nebraska, Oregon, UCLA and USC.
Though he's committed to Arkansas, ASU remains in play for Briston Guidry, a 6-foot-2, 287 pound defensive lineman at Archbishop Rummel High School in Metairie, Louisiana. Guidry was visited by and posed for a picture with Sun Devil defensive line coach Jackie Shipp earlier this month and is planning to see Tempe for an official visit in January.
ASU has had quite a bit of success recruiting players from Louisiana in recent years, including two young defensive linemen currently on the roster. While former offensive coordinator Mike Norvell was prominently involved in that process, so too was Jackie Shipp, and especially with the position he coaches. While the Sun Devils have 18 commits in the class, none are high school defensive linemen and none are defensive tackle prospects. Guidry is a versatile, attacking player who can align at the 3-technique or 5-technique end spots and perhaps even play over the football in the ASU scheme.
It's a major longshot at this point, certainly, but if there's a wide receiver prospect out there that would be a dream scenario pick up for ASU it is Tyrie Cleveland. The Houston, Westfield High teammate of ASU quarterback commit Dillon Sterling-Cole, Cleveland committed to the University of Houston just a few weeks ago but has subsequently said he's still open in his recruitment. This is due in part to the departure of Houston's wide receivers coach to Rutgers.
Cleveland, the No. 57 overall prospect and No. 9 wide receiver nationally in the Scout100, is now expected to trip to TCU and Florida in January before he decides which lucky school will earn his signature. ASU received an official visit earlier in the process and there's always the possibility Sterling-Cole could help keep the Sun Devils under consideration in a contested and confused process that goes down to the wire.