Even before the flurry of scholarship offers and minted four-star status, Khalil Shakir liked Arizona State.
Early in his junior year at Vista Murrieta High School in Murrieta, California, the 5-foot-11, 171 pound wide receiver traveled across the desert to ASU along with a teammate whose sister attends the school. It made quite an impression.
"I took a visit with my friend last year when they weren't really recruiting me," Shakir said. "I loved the fan support they had and the way pregame was. I was hoping to get a scholarship ever since then. It was everything I would look for."
Shakir knew he'd be back, and a half year later he was. This time, the Sun Devils rolled out the maroon carpet and when he left, it was with a scholarship offer in hand.
"This time it was different because I went as an actual recruit and all the coaches knew me and it as great," Shakir said. "(Receivers) coach (Rob) Likens definitely made me feel at home when I met him. He shook my hand and it was like a future coach I could see myself playing for, especially with how many great receivers he's coached. He pulled me to the side and told me how much they wanted me and I was beyond excited. I was at a loss for words.
"I like the hot weather and the area, it's not that far from where I live really, and the support the fans have at the games. It feels really comfortable with the coaching staff already."
One of the advantages ASU has is that Shakir's former high school teammate is sophomore wide receiver Kyle Williams as an advocate for the Sun Devils.
"When I was a sophomore and he was a senior, I started and was fortunate to line up with a player like him," Shakir said. "He taught me a lot, he was like my older brother. So he's a big factor in why I like ASU so much. He said it's amazing there, he likes it a lot and it was probably the best decision for him and I would fit right in there with him."
Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada, San Jose State, UCLA and Washington State have also offered a scholarship according to Shakir, who is the No. 10 wide receiver in the west and a Scout300 national prospect. His recruitment has already meandered quite a bit, with two programs now at the top of the current leaderboard.
"Before all these visits, when I started getting these offers, I liked UCLA and Washington State, they were my top two," Shakir said. "But now, after visiting ASU and Arizona, those are probably my top two now, I mean both of those schools amazed me."
Shakir may return to Tucson for another visit at the end of April, and is planning to drive out to Tempe again when the Sun Devils compete their new football building in July. UCLA could also get an unofficial visit in the near future.
"Even before I started the process I told myself I was going to take all my official visits and go rom there," Shakir said. "As I've started to take unofficials, now I'm starting to think about making an early commit. If I really like a school and take another visit or two, that would wrap it up.
"When I think about committing to the school I think about the relationship with the coaches and do I have a chance of starting or at least playing a little as a freshman, and then if I like the area and all of that."
Shakir had 768 yards from scrimmage as a junior, evenly distributed between receiving and rushing, nine touchdowns, and over 100 total yards per game when factoring in returns.
"I haven't spent specific goals for my senior year," he said. "I definitely want to have over 1,000 yards for receiving, I want to have a total of at least 10 touchdowns between special teams and receiving, and I'm going to play some defense this year, which I haven't gotten a chance to before, so I'm excited about that."