During a 5-7 regular season in 2016, the spotlight of national television wasn't so kind to Arizona State, as the Sun Devils were routinely exposed in the worst season of the Todd Graham era.
On Saturday, though, the Sun Devils were happy to see their program back in the national spotlight, as four-star running back Eno Benjamin used the platform provided by NBC and the U.S. Army All-American Bowl to announce his commitment to the Sun Devils during the game.
"They really had what I was looking for in a program as far as academics," Benjamin said. "If I wasn't attending or playing football, that would be a school that I would love to attend."
The Wylie East (Wylie, Texas) product is the 13th player to commit to ASU's 2017 recruiting class, and the fifth different four-star recruit the Sun Devils have received a commitment from. Benjamin's commitment brings ASU's average star-rating to 3.38, which is just decimal points below the program record of 3.43, set back in 2015.
A mid-year enrollee, Benjamin will be eligible for spring practice at ASU in 2017 and is slated to join fellow Texas high school recruits Ty Thomas and Loren Mondy as members of the Sun Devils' mid-year signing class.
"(First), Todd Graham. I have a great relationship with him and he has the Texas mentality that I am already used to," Benjamin told Scout reporter Greg Powers. "(Secondly) John Simon. He's played in the NFL and it would be great to learn from someone who has been there and done that before."
Benjamin chose ASU over reported offers from Utah, Michigan, Baylor and Texas, all programs who had hats on the table when the 5-foot-10, 203-pound back announced his commitment Saturday.
"Arizona State is getting a hard worker who is dedicated to the game and getting better on and off the field," Benjamin told Powers.
Benjamin is the 10th ranked running back recruit in the country according to Scout, the No. 2 running back in the state of Texas, and the 106th rated player in the country.
The second running back to commit to ASU during this cycle, Benjamin is the highest-rated player ASU has secured a commitment from for its 2017 class, joining the No. 139 overall recruit, four-star cornerback Alex Perry, and the No. 274 overall recruit, four-star quarterback Ryan Kelley, as members of the Scout300 pledged to ASU.
Benjamin joins fellow running back commit, three-star prospect Trelon Smith, as the second Texas native recruited to play in ASU's backfield in the Sun Devils' 2017 recruiting class. Benjamin is the fourth commit hailing from the state of Texas in ASU's 2017 class, which marks the sixth straight season ASU will sign multiple players from the Lone Star State.
Under Graham's predecessor, Dennis Erickson, the Sun Devils only signed two players from the state of Texas between 2007 and 2011.
Initially committed to Iowa, Benjamin re-opened his recruitment following an official visit to ASU.
In December, Benjamin told SunDevilSource that ASU's "Sparky" package played a role in the program's appeal to him because he grew comfortable playing in a similar package in high school.
"ASU's got the Sparky package, they call it," Benjamin said. "We do a lot of that at my school and I would run behind that a lot. That's something I can get familiar with or have been familiar with. That would be an easy thing to get accustomed to."
After officially visiting ASU in October, Benjamin made a return trip to Tempe in mid-December on an unofficial visit immediately following an unofficial visit to Texas. On Benjamin's other official visits, he looked at Missouri and Utah, but when he spoke with SunDevilSource in December, Benjamin said he had plenty of knowledge of the other schools whose hats were on the table Saturday.
"I've been to the other places I'm considering but it wasn't official visits," Benjamin said. "It was maybe unofficial visits earlier in the year. If I don't get to take additional official visits I will still have knowledge of those schools that I can use in my decision. I've already visited Michigan and Texas, I've been to plenty of times."
Benjamin boasts a 3.94 GPA and wants to study business law at ASU, and said the Sun Devils' academic options helped convince him of his choice.
"It was a huge factor, just knowing how many connects you could have coming out of that program."
ASU has a chance to add to its 2017 recruiting haul within the hour, as four-star safety Bubba Bolden will chose among ASU, USC and Ohio State when he makes his commitment during the U.S. Army All-American game.