Arizona State's roster is dotted with players from Louisiana and it is continuing to actively recruit the state. This week, Alexandria High School wide receiver Jorien Vallien claimed an offer from the Sun Devils, his first in the Pac-12.
"I kind of saw it coming," Vallien said. "Coach (Rob) Sale offered me and him and my coach have a great relationship. He came to me and told me Arizona State was interested. I didn't know they'd offer but I figured they were interested and I got on the phone with coach Sale and he offered.
"He was just really getting to know me. That was the first communication we had. He was asking me about my family, how things were going, and telling me some information about ASU and what they do around there."
Vallien, 6-foot-2, 180 pounds, said he's not really familiar with the Sun Devils, but the initial conversation was enough that it will lead to additional dialogue and studying up on the program.
"It opened my eye to ASU," he said. "Just me being a receiver, he was telling me how they spread the ball around and it really piqued my interest. I really didn't have a lot of information about ASU before. It's of those schools that is on my radar but I never really did my research on them, haven't really watched them play. So that's what I'm going to do now."
Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe, McNeese State, Nicholls State, Northwestern State, Texas Tech and Vanderbilt have also extended a scholarship offer according to Vallien. TCU and LSU have reached out to Vallien or his coach, he said.
"I'm looking for winning environment, family environment, and a team I can see myself in from day one," he said. "A place I can pretty much just step in and contribute to my team. I would love to do that.
"I'd like to study Kinesiology and be an athletic trainer. Either that or something like small business administration because I'd like to start my own non-profit someday. Hopefully I make it to the NFL because I'd like to start a non-profit and give back to as many kids as I can, just so I can help and inspire other people."
As a junior, Vallien had a highly productive season that he nonetheless felt didn't fully realize his expectations. He was credited with 63 catches for 1,001 yards and 11 touchdown receptions in only nine games, but Alexandria went 6-6 overall.
"I would say it was decent," he said. "I only played nine games because I had a [shoulder] injury...Overall, team-wise, I guess it was a decent season but we didn't get some of the big goals we aimed for. I just think we are getting everyone back healthy and this is the first real offseason I've had because I was formerly a basketball player. I've never grinded it out in the weight and training every day of an offseason before."
Vallien said he'll work on speed and getting his body in the best shape possible for his senior year. He'd like to gain 10-15 pounds and be able to use that extra size and strength on the field.