For the first time in the Internet-era and perhaps in the history of the program, Arizona State on Friday received commitments in a single day from three local recruits attending the same high school.
Poplawski, a 6-foot-4, 220 pound tight end, had 32 catches for 438 yards and six touchdowns last season for the Sabercats. His first scholarship offer came from ASU in November. Colorado, Illinois Louisville, Memphis and Oregon State subsequently followed suit.
Soelle, 6-foot-3, 220 pounds, will play Devil backer for the Sun Devils and outside linebacker for Saguaro as a senior, but primarily played on offense for Notre Dame Prep last season. As a junior he had 54 carries for 258 yards and five touchdown runs as well as 37 receptions for 334 yards and one touchdown. He played fewer reps on defense but had 21 tackles with 3.5 sacks. Boise State, Cal, Utah, and Washington also reportedly extended scholarship offers.
Stephens, 6-foot-3, 285 pounds, plays left tackle at Saguaro but is being recruited as a center who can also play guard for the Sun Devils. He worked with ASU offensive line coach Chris Thomsen at Sunday's Maroon and Gold Camp on the ASU campus and that led to a scholarship offer from the program. Louisville and Memphis had also offered a scholarship and he had a host of Ivy League and military academy opportunities as well.
Poplawski, Stephens, fellow Saguaro recruit K.J. Jarrell, a four-star safety, as well as Soelle's parents -- Kyle was on a visit to Boise State -- and Sabercats head coach Jason Mohns attended a barbecue Sunday at ASU that followed the program's camp.
"It was an informational type deal for the local kids that they're recruiting," Mohns said earlier this week. "I thought it was neat. They really made a big push about how committed they are to the in-state kids. It was kind of good for those in-state guys to get around each other too, make relationships and talk to each other. It's such a big part of the recruiting process, some of the same guys in your recruiting class. So it was a good deal.
"Coach (Todd) Graham talked about what kind of guys he's looking for and how important having guys from the Valley, local players, is to the program. He talked about (former Saguaro and ASU star) D.J. (Foster) a lot and the type of success he had and how he set himself up to be successful here in the state of Arizona beyond his playing career. He talked about their success on the field and being the winningest coaching staff in the first four years of anyone ever at ASU. He talked about what they've done academically and how they've turned things around in that regard. He talked about the importance to their staff of having local kids and what those kids mean to the program. For them to take that time and make it specific for the local guys I think showed those guys really how important they are to them."
All three players have family members who went to ASU and even played for the program. All three are fans of the program Sun Devils.
"With ASU, it's not just close to home but most of my family went there," Poplawski said in a previous interview with Scout. "Pretty much everyone on my dad's side went to Arizona State. It's a cool thing if I were to go there, especially because my grandfather went there and he was a tight end also. I really like the tight ends coach (Delvaughn) Alexander and I really like the offensive coordinator, coach (Chip) Lindsey. They've talked to me about how I would fit and the opportunities I would have even as a freshman."
Poplawski is the No. 12 tight end prospect in the West by Scout.
Soelle's grandfather Tom Henschen has been a fan for decades. He got tears in his eyes up on the family's visit to ASU last month, the day Soelle was offered a scholarship.
"I've always grown up as an ASU fan," Soelle said. "This is where I was born, my grandpa has had season tickets for I don't know how long. It was like a dream come true. I don't even know how to explain it, it is a surreal experience."
Stephens, the No. 10 offensive guard prospect in the West, coveted an ASU scholarship and pursued it with a purpose. He participated at ASU camps four or five times in recent years, demonstrating that he could play the center position and getting the offer following Sunday's Maroon and Gold Camp.
"I grew up supporting ASU," Stephens said. "My mom graduated from ASU and pretty much my whole entire family are ASU fans. It's something, since I was 9 years old, watching (former ASU quarterbacks) Sam Keller and Rudy Carpenter on TV throw the rock."
The Sun Devils now have five commitments in the 2017 class, more than doubling the number they had going into the day. Poplawski, Soelle and Stephens join four-star Chandler Basha High quarterback Ryan Kelley and Texas defensive prospect Loren Mondy on the ASU commit list.
"I really think they have made some headway locally," Mohns said of ASU. "I'm really impressed with the new offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey and the type of person he is. They've got some really good guys on the staff that connect with the kids well. I do feel like this year maybe more than ever they're really trying to put their best foot forward and going after those in-state guys. Also, that staff now, coach Graham is going into his fifth year and has won consistently. A lot of these kids now, the whole time they've been in high school, coach Graham has been at ASU and had success. That's really a big thing. These kids growing up with a successful program and that hasn't always been the case."