Last weekend, Scout100 recruit Thomas Graham visited Arizona State for the second time this year. It was his fourth of five scheduled official trips.
The Sun Devils continue to remain in the hunt for Graham, widely considered to be among the top defensive backs in the West. The senior at Rancho Cucamonga High School in suburban Los Angeles has a grandmother living in Tempe and has extensive ties to the state.
"It was a really good visit," Graham said. "I would say my family enjoyed ourselves. I got to see my [grandmother] so that was of course great. She came during the campus tour. She had good things to say. I felt like they treated me like I already go there, which was a plus. I think going there for a visit before made it even better because I'm kind of more comfortable."
At one point in recent months, Graham was unsure if he'd take an official visit to ASU considering he's been to the campus and area already this year and a number of times previously. But because he's still trying to figure out how well he'd fit in with the Sun Devils, he felt it was an important trip to make.
"Just talking with (secondary) coach (T.J.) Rushing and I've been recruited by ASU the whole time and have good relationships there so why not take an official," Graham said. "They were happy I was there and talking with me about how I would fit in to their defense. They are saying they need corners who can come in and play and that they see me that way."
Graham said that when Rushing and ASU coach Todd Graham tell him he has a lot of value to them as a recruit, it resonates. He's able to see it for himself on the field, such as on Saturday when he was on hand for ASU's 37-32 loss to Washington State.
"I can tell they're not lying to me," Graham said. "You can see from their defense and depth chart and everything that they do need more defensive backs and they are losing like one of their starters and a top back up at cornerback. So it's not like they're telling me, 'oh, we want you to come in and play corner' but I don't really have a chance when I'm a freshman. They are telling me the truth and the opportunity is there for me to try to come in and play up."
Early playing time is "very important" in the decision making process, according to Graham. He's planning to take his fifth and final official visit to Oregon in several weeks and then begin his final deliberations.
In addition to ASU, Graham is primarily looking at Arizona, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oregon and UCLA. He will have officially visited all but the Bruins, though he's very familiar with that campus and coaches as well.
"Everybody still has a chance including UCLA," he said. "I'm probably going to be announcing in December. I'm not sure when or how or anything like that yet, but I just know that December is when I'm planning to do it.
"Going on the visits has kind of helped me figure out what I'm looking for and where I would like to go. But it's something I'm still thinking about a lot and haven't really [zeroed in] on only one or two schools. I'm still talking with all of them, still thinking about everything."
Rancho Cucamonga is 8-0 on the season and widely considered one of the top teams in the state. Graham and his teammates have two more games before the start of the playoffs. He's been playing on defense, offense -- 18 catches for 368 yards and three touchdowns - and on special teams as a kickoff and punt returner.