On National Signing Day, Arizona State announced a recruiting class that included 19 new prospects, including five defensive backs.
During his Signing Day press conference, ASU head coach Todd Graham said the Sun Devils weren't done building their 2017 class, and on Thursday, the program added its second late addition to the class as junior college cornerback Darien Cornay committed to the Sun Devils.
Cornay, a former three-star recruit out of Los Alamitos High in Southern California, spent the 2016 season with Cerritos College and enters ASU with four years to play three.
The Sun Devils didn't begin actively recruiting Cornay until a week ago when they reached out to his defensive coordinator at Cerritos College. After his coach put Cornay in contact with ASU, the cornerback said he talked with various members of the Sun Devils' coaching staff about how he would fit into the team's defense.
"So I got a call from my defensive coordinator at my community college and he said I got a D1 school targeting me, you should come by," Cornay said. "So I came by, he gave me their number, the first person I talked to was coach (Shawn) Slocum, and then he passed it on to coach (Phil) Bennett and coach (T.J.) Rushing. He said they got done watching my film and they said they liked what they saw, I fit their scheme perfectly and they wanted to fly me out over the weekend. It was an issue with the NCAA, but we got that squared away so I had to come on Tuesday."
Cornay's official visit began on Tuesday and stretched through until Thursday morning, at which point he elected to sign with the Sun Devils. When ASU approached Cornay about tripping to Tempe, Cornay said the coaching staff told him they wanted him to come meet the coaches, experience the campus and then sign his scholarship paperwork.
"It was definitely a top five life experience, man," Cornay said of his visit. "I fell in love with the city. The campus is beautiful, all the new facilities, all the bells and whistles, but the thing that stuck out most was definitely the coaches. Everyone on coach Graham's staff were genuine guys, they cared about their players, and that really stuck out to me, I liked that a lot."
Cornay joins fellow Southern California junior college prospect Ceejhay French-Love as the second post-Signing Day addition to ASU's 2017 recruiting class after French-Love signed with the Sun Devils on Saturday.
The 5-foot-11, 185-pound cornerback missed almost his entire junior season of high school with a collarbone injury, but was still ranked as the 125th cornerback nationally and the 23rd cornerback in the West by Scout for the Class of 2016. Because he was an academic qualifier out of high school, Cornay does not need a junior college degree to transfer to ASU.
"Injuries definitely played a part in me getting under-recruited, but a collarbone during my junior season pretty much, then a nagging ankle injury during my senior year, but everything happens for a reason though, that's what I'm here today."
As a senior at Los Alamitos, Cornay was named First Team All-Sunset League and was his team's Defensive Back of the Year. Though he earned All-League honors, Cornay said he didn't receive the type of scholarship opportunities he was looking for, which inspired him to go the junior college route.
"I was talking to Washington State, I was talking to Wyoming, I was in contact with the coach at Oregon, but yeah, everyone said the same thing," Cornay said about his high school recruitment. "If we would have found you earlier, if we had more film on you."
During his lone season with Cerritos College, Cornay recorded 31 tackles and one interception.
Cornay said that after ASU reached out to him, Nebraska and Kansas State had also expressed interest in gathering more information on him, but he said the Sun Devils were the first program to take a chance on him and that became a deciding factor in his recruitment.
"They were the first school to take a shot on me and I respect that," Cornay said.
Cornay said his mother joined him on his official visit to ASU this week, and that the Sun Devils' coaching staff did an excellent job leaving a strong impression on her as well.
"The coaches gave the whole recruiting spiel, but she just believes the values that they hold high and what they were preaching is the same stuff she's been preaching to me since I was a little kid so she fell in love with it as well. She feels comfortable leaving me here," Cornay said.
A final factor that helped convince Cornay of his decision was touring ASU's new Student-Athlete Facility, which he said is going to be "second to none."
The Sun Devils return just six scholarship players at the cornerback/field safety positions for the 2017 season, including junior starters Armand Perry and Kareem Orr. Cornay said ASU's coaches were honest about the Sun Devils' need to add depth to the secondary and said Graham told him that he doesn't want to redshirt him this season.
"I spoke with coach Graham and he was honest, he was up front with me, he told me he doesn't plan to redshirt me, that's not why he recruited me, he said their corner situation is desperate," Cornay said.
Because his semester at Cerritos College won't finish up until late June, Cornay said he expects to arrive on campus at ASU sometime between June 25 and June 30. When he does, he said he'll bring a detail-oriented approach to ASU where he hopes to continue to hone his technique.
"I'm a technician, I'm focused on the details, I'm always working on my technique," Cornay said. "Technique is important to me, I'm aggressive, my body positioning is probably the best part of my game, but I just try to focus on being an all-around corner."