Cornerback / Field Safety
Ideal Scholarship Roster Number: 10-11
Likely Returning Number: 6
Remaining target number: 2-3
Arizona State wanted to add at least a few players in its 2017 class who can play the field safety and cornerback positions but ultimately ended up with just two on signing day. The Sun Devils will need to either sign additional recruits in the class or take Division I transfers if they're going to reach their scholarship targets for the position group.
This isn't a position at which the Sun Devils should feel comfortable being light on scholarship players because they had a talent gap in the secondary the last two seasons, when they finished last in the country in passing defense. Not adding junior college players is an indication that they'll likely have to rely on returning players for the most part as they go into spring football and beyond.
ASU did sign two high school players, neither of whom will be at ASU until early this summer. Until then there will be no more than five or six scholarship players who work at the cornerback and field safety positions this spring, including returning starters Armand Perry and Kareem Orr and part-time starter Maurice Chandler.
Four-star Las Vegas Bishop Gorman High cornerback Alex Perry committed to the Sun Devils late last year. He could impact the depth chart as a true freshman. Additionally ASU added Langston Frederick out of Clear Springs High in League City, Texas, on signing day as a second cornerback/field safety prospect.
Earlier in his recruitment Frederick reported offers from Michigan State, Iowa State, Minnesota and Missouri as well as Group of Five options that included Houston and Texas San-Antonio. By the time of his commitment, Frederick had a top two of ASU and Houston, as other options no longer had scholarship capacity. As far back as last July, Frederick told SunDevilSource that ASU was one of his top two schools along with Michigan State.
At 5-foot-10 and 174-pounds, Frederick played cornerback, safety and nickel back at the high school level. Frederick turned in 4.49 seconds in the 40-yard dash, a 4.55 shuttle run, and a 37.9 inch vertical jump in Nike + Football Rating (formerly SPARQ) last year. He's now closer to 180 pounds and has pretty good strength and muscularity for the position, with a reported 440 pound squat.
As a senior at Clear Springs, Frederick was credited with 62 tackles with seven passes defended and one interception. He played quite a bit of safety but has the ability to take the field either at cornerback or field safety for the Sun Devils.
Frederick has good linear speed, as evidenced by his sub-4.5 second 40-yard dash. The 4.55 shuttle time is quite slow for a cornerback of his size and speed, though, and should have been in the sub-4.2 second range. It's indicative of someone who doesn't re-direct especially well for a defensive back, or at least isn't advanced technically to be able to execute what should be a relatively normal drill.
On game footage, however, Frederick doesn't look to be a liability in terms of changing directions when covering. While not necessarily his best attribute as a player, he's able to handle operating in space on the field side at safety without any trouble at all. There are a number of instances in which he transitions from pedal to pass breakup with enough quickness to intermediate passes.
Where Frederick really excels is with his physicality for the position and at his size. He's a violent tackler who runs through flat-footed receivers on the perimeter of the field on screen plays. He enforces the flat on these types of plays, not just by bringing down the ball but at attacking would-be blockers.
One of the best things about Frederick as a prospect is his overall field anticipation is very good. His play identification skills usually put him ahead of teammates on the field when it comes to understanding what's about to transpire and how to combat that. He reads zone coverage situations particularly effectively because he has a good feel for space and receiver threats while also being able to keep his eyes toward the quarterback. This is a very good characteristic to have when paired with a physical disposition.
Frederick is also physical at the line of scrimmage in man situations but needs skill refinement of how to engage and open up against a variety of route challenges. At times he can have some mistakes with his feet and hands, and not use his location on the field to his benefit. He has shown some pretty good awareness to the play and ball skills when in phase. But he also needs to work on being able to mirror receivers earlier within reps and become more skilled with his approach early in reps. What's good for Frederick is that his recovery speed is above average and his willingness to mix it up serves him well.
For ASU's purposes, Frederick has pretty good versatility. He has the toughness and athletic traits to play the boundary corner position but also enough speed and coverage potential to likely be able to handle the field cornerback spot. Because he has good instincts and can transition reasonably well, field safety is a real possibility as well. Our best educated guess is that long term ASU looks to play Frederick at boundary corner, with Perry at field corner and perhaps Chase Lucas a developing field safety.