There was never a doubt in the mind of Corey Stephens that he would become a Sun Devil once given the opportunity.
Offered a scholarship by Arizona State coaches on Wednesday, Stephens told them immediately that he was on board. He just wanted to wait a couple days for several teammates to join him so they could announce it together.
When the 6-foot-3, 285 pound offensive linemen and his Scottsdale Saguaro High teammates -- tight end Jared Poplawski and outside linebacker Kyle Soelle -- publicly declared for the Sun Devils Friday it became the first documented case of three players doing so for ASU on the same day.
"We really want to make a big splash in the state," Stephens said. "We think that this 2017 class is one of the best classes to ever come through Arizona, and to keep a lot of these kids staying home could really attribute to the long term success of Arizona State. Making a big splash today is, I think, a big help in recruiting other Arizona kids as well. Coordinating it like that I think is really going to help the program.
"Growing up a huge fan of ASU, it's been my dream since I was a little kid, seeing them running out onto the field and picturing myself running out as well. I love the way the program is going. I love the way coach (Todd) Graham and coach (Chip) Lindsey are taking the program. I love everything they stand for as well. It was a no brainer to me."
A left tackle at Saguaro, Stephens worked at center for ASU offensive line coach Chris Thomsen to demonstrate he could snap and move effectively at the position. He performed for the Sun Devils in several different settings on their campus in recent weeks, which led to their comfort and the offer.
"At the ASU big man competition (earlier this month) we did a lot of one-on-ones," he said. "I thought I did a really good job in that. Coach Thomsen and coach Graham were real impressed. Coach Graham came at the right time. I have a pretty violent rep against this one kids. He really liked that. Ever since then he started talking with me a lot more and I think that showing really helped speed up the offering process.
Stephens has a family full of ASU supporters. It made the decision just a bit easier considering he bypassed a slew of Ivy League and other high-academic offers. He'll apply to ASU's Barrett Honors College, and with a reported 4.4 grade-point average, appears to be a great candidate.
"It feels amazing to be able to play for a school that your family all loves," Stephens said. "That wasn't the reason I committed there but to have all your family there supporting you, to be able to come to all your games, it's an amazing feeling you really can't get anywhere else."
With a zero week challenge to start the season at home against national powerhouse Gardena (Calif.) Serra in their sights, the Sabercats will attempt to accomplish a very rare feat in 2016.
"All of my focus right now is going to be on winning that fourth state championship in a row," Stephens said. "Obviously you want to keep getting bigger and stronger in the weight room for that collegiate level but right now all of my focus is winning a fourth state championship and doing anything I can to help our team achieve that.
"I don't know if a lot of people can say they have an opportunity to win four state championships in a row and then be able to continue playing in college with the teammates that you achieved that win. There's no better feeling."