After finishing last in the FBS in passing defense for the second straight season, Arizona State entered the offseason needing to secure commitments from several of the program's high-priority recruiting targets in the defensive backfield.
On Monday, the Sun Devils picked up one such commitment, as four-star Bandit/Spur prospect Evan Fields announced his pledge to ASU.
The 6-foot-1, 187-pound defensive back from Midwest City High in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma chose ASU over reported offers from Notre Dame, Oregon, Kansas State, Texas Christian and UCLA among others.
"It just felt like him," Fields told Scout.com reporter Greg Powers. "The relationship I have with the coaches, especially the relationship I have with my position coach, T.J. Rushing, it is just home."
Fields is the third four-star defensive back to commit to ASU's 2017 recruiting class, joining four-star cornerback Alex Perry out of Bishop Gorman (Nevada) and four-star safety K.J. Jarrell out of Saguaro (Scottsdale). Perry has been committed to ASU since December while Jarrell announced his commitment on Wednesday.
Fields officially visited ASU over the second weekend of December, and also made official visits to Kansas State, UCLA and Notre Dame, with the visits to the Bruins and the Fighting Irish coming in January.
"That was my first time ever to the West Coast past Colorado," Fields said of his official visit to Tempe. "It is just a different vibe there. It is laid back and I am a laid back dude. Everything is laid back. The people are nice. You can leave your doors unlocked and nothing will happen. The campus is huge. It is much bigger than Oklahoma City. It was a whole new experience, new people."
Fields has been one of the Sun Devils' most sought after recruits, as linebackers coach Keith Patterson paid Fields a visit immediately following the end of the recruiting dead period in January. Fields was also visited by new defensive coordinator Phil Bennett, former offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey, and ASU assistant athletic director for recruiting, Donnie Yantis, on January 17.
Fields is the 16th player to commit to ASU's 2017 recruiting class and the seventh four-star prospect. The Sun Devils still have two days remaining until National Signing Day and are waiting to hear on decisions from a number of other high-profile defensive back prospects.
The program record for four-star signees is nine, which was set in 2015 when ASU finished with the 17th ranked class nationally.
Fields joins Jarrell and three-star mid-year enrollee Ty Thomas as the third Bandit/Spur prospect to commit to ASU during the current recruiting cycle. Fields could become an immediate impact player at ASU as the Sun Devils graduated starting Spur Laiu Moeakiola.
"They did not promise me a starting position, but they told me that I can come right and in and compete for the job," Fields told Scout. "It is wide open they said and with my size they say that I am physically ready. I weigh about 190 pounds right now so I feel like I am big enough and they do too, so it is just a big opportunity for me to come in and win that starting job."
ASU returns senior Marcus Ball, senior J'Marcus Rhodes, senior James Johnson, junior Tyler Whiley, junior Das Tautalatasi and junior Deion Guignard at Bandit/Spur in 2017. If the Sun Devils are able to add enough depth at the cornerback/field safety positions at the end of the recruiting cycle, junior Armand Perry also has the potential to play at Bandit or Spur next season.
One of the reasons Fields said he was attracted to ASU was its academic profile, as he said he's eligible to enroll in Barrett, the Honors College thanks to a strong academic resume.
"There is the Barrett Honors program that I will be eligible o do, so all-in-all, a win-win situation," Fields said. "It is a honors program that you have to have a 3.5 GPA to get into and I have a 3.9, so I can get in there easily I think."