Recruiting needs clear in 2017 class as ASU coaches hit the road

Arizona State's coaching staff will be earning a lot of frequent flier miles in the next six weeks as they travel around the country for the all-important spring evaluation period. Their key needs have already been well established.

Though it won't be conducting any more practices between now and the start of preseason camp in August, Arizona State isn't done with spring football, not by a long shot. 

All of the Sun Devils' assistant coaches will be hitting the recruiting trail beginning this week for the spring evaluation period, which officially started April 15 and runs through May 31.

With the exception of Sundays and Memorial Day, each school may make up to 168 individual visits to evaluate prospective student athletes on the practice field and in the classroom. Head coaches are not permitted to travel for off-campus evaluations during the period. 

ASU's recruiting needs are clear as it enters the all-important evaluation window. In the 2017 recruiting class the Sun Devils will sign more defensive players than they will offensive prospects. Their biggest needs are defensive line and at the interchangeable cornerback/field safety spots.

At the three defensive line positions, the Sun Devils are scheduled to return just seven scholarship players after this season: Tashon Smallwood, JoJo Wicker, George Lea, Emanuel Dayries, Christian Hill, Renell Wrenn, and Jalen Bates. A healthy number going into any season would be about 11-12 defensive linemen, meaning ASU will want to sign four or five recruits at this position group in the 2017 class. 

At the cornerback/field safety position, ASU's still relatively going to be relatively depleted from a numbers standpoint even after adding five recruits in the secondary in the 2016 class. Even including junior college transfers J'Marcus Rhodes and Maurice Chandler as well as high school additions Chase Lucas and Robbie Robinson, they'll have just eight returning players between these three positions in the 2017 season. As a result, they'll also target adding four or five of these versatile coverage defensive backs. 

To a slightly lesser degree, inside linebacker will need replenishing in 2017 recruiting for the Sun Devils. Behind the three starter-level players -- Salamo Fiso, Christian Sam and D.J. Calhoun -- there's more uncertainty and only two other scholarship players, and Fiso will be departing. ASU will need to add at least two and probably three inside linebackers in the class as a result. 

All of that will add up fast and make up nearly half of ASU's overall recruiting class. Odds are good at least a few of the players in those three groups will be junior college players. The good news for ASU is that there is less of a need at its outside linebacker positions and Bandit safety. 

On offense, the biggest need by far is at wide receiver, with the Sun Devils only returning seven scholarship players in 2017 and an ideal number being 11 or 12 going into any given season. That means ASU's going to want to add as many wide receivers as defensive linemen and versatile defensive backs, probably four or five. 

Elsewhere though, ASU's in relatively good shape. It won't need to add more than two players at any other offensive positions, quarterback, running back, tight end, offensive line. 

All told, ASU should be looking at a class size of about 22-23 in 2017, with defensive line (4-5), cornerback/field safety (4-5) and wide receiver (4-5) making up half or more of the class. Defense (12-13) projects to account for more scholarship allocation than offense (8-9). 

ASU has two currently recognized commitments, four-star cornerback Jermani Brown from Virginia, and three-star linebacker Loren Mondy from Texas. 

In coming weeks, as the evaluation period unfolds, we'll be exploring the top options for ASU at every position group across the roster and the odds of satisfying their roster goals with existing priority targets. 

ASU commitments by month (2004-16 classes)

February or earlier: (one year or more before NLI): 4

March: 2

April: 9 (seven of whom were in early April before the evaluation period start)

May: 6 (two of whom were quarterbacks)

June: 25

July: 16

August: 18

September: 7

October: 21

November: 13

December: 57

January: 89

February: 32

March or later: 7


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