The 2017 Arizona high school recruiting class is one of the strongest classes in state history. A good barometer for measuring the quality of the in-state class is by the number of offers that go out to recruits by Arizona State.
Currently the Sun Devils have extended 14 offers to local prep recruits, a stark contrast to 2016, when just eight local high school players received an offer (the lowest total since 2005). Since 2004, only four classes (2014, 2012, 2009 and 2008) finished with more ASU offers to recruits, with 2012 setting a record with 21. The 2017 class still has over eight months to go and it's possible the class could move up on the list.
The 2012 Arizona high school class, which was highlighted by 2015 NFL first rounder Andrus Peat (Stanford) along with ASU's D.J. Foster and others, holds the record with 21 recruits with ASU offers. 19 of those recruits signed with Power-5 conferences. ASU only signed four in-state prospects in that class. That was also ASU coach Todd Graham's first class at the school, though he had only a month or so to put together.
The 2014 class, which many consider to be the top class in Arizona history, had 17 prospects with ASU offers, just three of whom signed with the Sun Devils. That class was highlighted by five-star prospects Kyle Allen (Texas A&M) and Casey Tucker (Stanford) along with five four-star prospects.
The 2012 and 2014 classes, while being the high water water for local recruits, was also the low water for ASU local recruiting. The Sun Devils only signed 19 and 18 percent of the locals they offered in those years. Overall under Todd Graham, ASU has signed in-state recruits with offers at 25 percent success rate, which is down from the 45 percent rate the Sun Devils had under Dennis Erickson.
Those numbers could easily lead to the conclusion that local recruiting is down under Graham. Erickson, though, signed more than a handful of local recruits who didn't have prominent out of state Power 5 offers. More lightly recruited Deveron Carr, Zeb Togiai, Steven Figueroa, Max Smith, Kody Koebensky, Marcus Washington and J.J. Holiday signed with the Sun Devils over a two-year period in 2008 and 2009. The staff offered a combined 33 players in those two classes, an approach that made sense at the time as Erickson looked to build bridges to prominent local programs like Desert Vista and Saguaro. It's also the reason ASU hit on a record nine of 17 offered recruits in the 2009 class.
With the benefit of hindsight though, that approach didn't work where it really matters -- on the football field -- as ASU wasn't able to subsequently parlay it into landing a higher percentage of the best local prospects. When you factor in how ASU’s record on the field under Erickson led to the program falling out of favor with local recruits along with the rise in overall talent of the Phoenix area, it is easier to see why Graham’s success rate trails Erickson.
It is no secret that Graham has had to rebuild Arizona State’s image on and off the field. ASU has been putting in the work locally for four years now with an improving talent pool to draw from. Relatively speaking, there's been a lot of success on the field under Graham, and with the ongoing renovations to Sun Devil Stadium as well as the football facilities, ASU seems to be in position to capitalize on the strong local class despite losing a large portion of his staff after the 2015 season.
Currently, the Sun Devils have a commitment from local four-star quarterback Ryan Kelley in the 2017 and either leads or are in the top group for 12 of the other 13 offered prospects. All are uncommitted except Saguaro’s Kayden Lyles, who is pledged to Wisconsin, where his brother is currently playing quarterback. Their father is a former player for the Badgers, so it is unlikely he breaks his pledge. The rest of the state's top players are unattached.
Along with Kelley, the real prize locally is Phoenix North Canyon offensive tackle Austin Jackson. He is a No. 7 overall prospect in the country. ASU is his top group, but with offers from programs such as Alabama, Miami, Michigan, Notre Dame and USC he could sign with virtually any program he choses. The class overall does not appear to have as many elite prospect as the 2014 class did, but is deeply talented and includes at least a few prospects who bring positional versatility to the table.
ASU has an outside chance of setting a record and signing double digit in-state prospects this cycle, but that doesn't appear likely unless more players receive a scholarship offer. Half of the offered recruits play either tight end or Devil backer, which is one of the reasons. At most we would expect ASU to sign five prospects in total at those two positions, but three or four is a more likely result.
For the program to turn the proverbial corner in-state, we believe reaching the 50 percent mark locally again for the second straight year is an appropriate goal in 2017. ASU signed four of the eight offers in 2016 and meeting that mark again in a much deeper class would be telling about the state of local recruiting. Fans want ASU to build a fence around the state and while that is Graham’s stated goal, getting to a point of consistently signing half of the local recruits is needed before the school can ever get to a point of locking down the state’s prospects year in and year out.
|Graham Class Year||ASU in-state HS offers||ASU in-state HS signees|
|Erickson Class Year||ASU in-state HS offers||ASU in-state HS signees|