Ideal scholarship roster number: 11-12
* Perry could potentially play Bandit next year with Orr at field safety. Hayes has practiced primarily at field corner.
Likely returning number: 5
Remaining ideal number: 1-2
Top remaining targets: None.
Super Skinny: Getting faster and more athletic on the back end is an essential aspect of ASU's recruiting efforts this off-season and moving into the future. The Sun Devils lose both starting cornerbacks from this season -- with regard to Kweishi Brown that isn't necessarily a bad thing -- and had inexperience hurt at field safety and with talent and depth issues in the secondary in general this past season. Anticipating this need to add numbers and talent, ASU has already taken commitments from four players, inculding two junior college mid-year recruits with size, range and versatility. Four-star J'Marcus Rhodes and Maurice Chandler are big corners who can also potentially play field safety. Scout300 in-state standout Chase Lucas hasn't played much defense but can project to three or four positions in the secondary and was well reviewed on defense in the U.S. Army All-American week. Robbie Robinson is undersized but tenacious, with great hips and change of direction. Even with four on board, ASU is a bit light on numbers here heading into 2016. We've learned this is a position group in which ASU needs a lot of athletes being developed. Corners and field safeties are grouped together because of the interchangability. Local Saguaro star Byron Murphy would have made this a grand slam secondary class for ASU but his decision to commit to Washington still leaves the Sun Devils with a good class at cornerback/field safety and it appears to be done.
Ideal Scholarship Roster Number: 7-8
*Armand Perry could potentially shift from field safety to Bandit if ASU wants to start Orr and Perry together next year.
Likely Returning Number: 5-6
2016 Commitments: 0-1 (Koron Crump*)
Remaining Ideal Number: 1-2
Super Skinny: Starter Laiu Moeakiola will return for his senior season in 2016 at Spur but Moeakiola played most of 2015 at less than full strength with a holdover shoulder injury from last season that he hurt again versus Washington and had surgery on in December. Out of everyone else the Sun Devils have tried here -- James Johnson, Marcus Ball, Das Tautalatasi and De'Andre Scott -- they need to find one player who is capable of playing without as much drop off. Ball had what was perhaps a career-building performance in the second half against Washington and Johnson is a solid multi-purpose reserve, though footspeed is a bit limiting. ASU should take one 2016 recruit here to help it hedge its bets on reserve talent, with Calvin Bundage being a prototype high end Spur who will pick between ASU, Arkansas, Oklahoma State and Oregon on Signing Day. At Bandit, Jordan Simone has departed after being a two-year starter. Johnson could fill this role and not be less of a coverage player and good against the run. A real possibility is ASU looks at playing Armand Perry and Kareem Orr together at the two safety positions if it feels it doesn't need to move Orr to cornerback. Lamar Jackson looks like a Bandit who could play Spur as well. He'll pick between ASU and Nebraska on Tuesday. ASU really needs one of the two to consider this Spur/Bandit grouping a success. 2016 junior college mid-year junior college addition Koron Crump could play Spur as a sub-package pass rusher early in his career.
Ideal scholarship roster number: 7-8
* Lawal could also play Devil backer on base downs or as a sub-package pass rusher. Wilson has been working at 3-back/tight end primarily but can also play inside linebacker.
Likely returning number: 6-7
2016 commitments: None
Remaining ideal number: 0
Top remaining targets: None
Super Skinny: The Sun Devils return three starter-caliber players at inside linebacker, two of whom have more than one remaining year of eligibility, as well as three players who were freshmen in terms of eligibility. This is one of their best positions of strength on the roster projecting into the future, especially if Khaylan Thomas works out as expected, and Malik Lawal really impressed with his potential in bowl practices last month. They need to load up elsewhere on defense and can afford to not take a commitment in this class at inside linebacker, and are likely done here unless a high profile prospect makes himself available in the final days. In 2017 ASU will need to add a couple guys at this position group to prepare to replenish for the eventual departures Christian Sam and D.J. Calhoun, who will be seniors that season.
Ideal scholarship roster number: 4
Likely returning number: 1-2
Remaining ideal number: 0-1
Top remaining targets: Tre Williams
Super Skinny: With the addition of 2016 commit Dougladson Subtyl, ASU should be adding the best pure Devil backer prospect since Carl Bradford played the position early in the Todd Graham-era. Subtyl is our top overall prospect in the ASU class at this stage, and led all of California junior college football in sacks the past two seasons. The Sun Devils have been snakebit here, with 2015 elite recruit Davon Durant never playing after an arrest, and Ismael Murphy-Richardson dismissed from the program last month after his own arrest. Redshirt freshman Bo Wallace is a promising Devil backer who is still probably a year or two of seasoning away from making a real impact. The Sun Devils will probably move one or both of A.J. Latu and/or Chans Cox to field end, where they've each worked at times, but their pathway to playing time anywhere is difficult to say the least. Mid-year four-star junior college transfer Koron Crump is a good quick twitch athlete who could play Devil backer but will need to add size and strength to be an everydown player at the position. ASU doesn't necessarily need another addition to the 2016 class at Devil so long as Subtyl enrolls and plays, but it's one of those positions at which turning down a perceived impact player isn't a good idea and there should always be a couple guys being developed. In a pinch, ASU could also play redshirt freshman Jalen Bates as a bigger Devil backer, similar to how Graham used Marcus Hardison aligned into the bondary when ASU lacked a better edge rush threat. Missouri commit Tre Williams visited ASU officially last weekend and is a swing Devil/defensive end prospect but it's unclear if he's seriously consider flipping for ASU on signing day.
Ideal scholarship roster number: 10-11
*Bates could play Devil but is an ideal end long-term. Alani Latu and Chans Cox could move to end. Cox has moved around quite a bit.
Likely returning number: 9-10
2016 commitments: 1 (Christian Hill)
Remaining ideal number: 1-2
Super Skinny: ASU's got three starter-quality defensive linemen returning next season, two of whom have more than one season of eligibility remaining, Tashon Smallwood and Joseph Wicker. Others, specifically Renell Wren, George Lea and Jalen Bates, have impressive potential. This is one position group at which you want to really be deep because it's the group that rotates and has the most number of its scholarship players see the field in a given season. So even though ASU's not in bad shape numbers-wise and has junior college defensive end Christian Hill in the fold, it could definitely use another player here, especially a tackle. Missouri commit Tre Williams is a potential flip target as a big-framed defensive end long-term play and Arkansas commit Briston Guidry a good fit for a tackle position. Guidry and local Brophy Prep standout Connor Murphy are official visitors this weekend. Murphy will be a hard get, with USC and Michigan the more likely destinations.
Only seven of ASU's 15 currently 2016 commits project as defensive players and the goal was 10-11 total when finished, so clearly ASU's a bit light here relative to its goals just days before the start of the signing period Wednesday. The biggest remaining needs are at least one Bandit/Spur prospect and one more defensive lineman. Ideally, ASU would find a way to take a defensive end and defensive tackle but that's looking unlikely. Any limitations with recruiting in the front-seven probably won't hurt ASU in the 2016 season but its goal has to be transitioning to a need to be less reliant on junior college players on the defensive side of the ball. It's a fine balance though, because ASU's signed/has commitments from seven Scout100 junior college prospects, more than any other school nationally.