Reinforcements are on the way for Arizona State's secondary.
With available scholarships to give and a design on improving on the back end of their defense, Sun Devil coaches elected to sign Long Beach City College defensive backs DeMonte King and Kobe Williams at the conclusion of their official visits on Saturday.
King and Williams are expected to arrive in Tempe on June 14 with immediate eligibility and an eye on helping the Sun Devils in the 2017 season.
King, who was at Montana State for two seasons before dropping back to the junior college level, has two years of eligibility. He will play one of ASU's three safety positions.
Williams played cornerback last year as a 17-year-old freshman for Long Beach after a prep career at nearby Poly High School. He will have four years to play three seasons because he was an academic qualifier out of high school.
"I just loved the visit," King said. "I can see myself living there. I kind of didn't want to leave. It almost felt like I was joining the team then and was going to stay there. It was great. The players are all cool. It's a family type feel there. I really liked how the coaches didn't sugar coat anything. They kept it 100 (percent honest) with me. They told me what to expect. I've been on visits before and the coaches are all sugar coating everything. The ASU coaches shot straight and I respected that a lot because neither of us has time to be wasted."
At 6-foot-1, 195 pounds, King said Boise State, Cal, Nevada, Oregon State, UNLV and Washington State expressed interest, but the Sun Devils stepped forth with a scholarship offer when other major college programs didn't.
"I for sure was nervous but I had a lot of people tell me to be patient," King said. "I just kept the faith and like they said, it rolled through. I was real nervous, every day. I just couldn't think right, I couldn't relax. I made this decision to go to [junior college] and I didn't have the type of offers at the level I wanted. So to have this happen is just great. The other schools all kind of reached out and communicated the same issue but ASU pursued the hardest."
For Williams, size and age were perhaps a limiting factor in his recruitment. Despite starting as a sophomore at Poly in a secondary with USC standouts Iman Marshall and Jack Jones, Williams didn't generate Division I interest. He then took his game to Long Beach City College, where he earned first-team CCCAA honors in his league and all-state recognition. This, despite not turning 18 until November 16 of last year, the youngest player on the team.
"I had schools like San Jose and Nevada was reaching out to me," said Williams, who indicated he's 5-foot-9 and 175 pounds. "Nevada was close but didn't offer me yet. When Arizona State came Memphis tried to start talking with me but I was already on Arizona State.
"I knew I'd like the visit from the start but I didn't know I'd love it as much as I did. The environment, everything was just great with the school. I enjoyed most that I liked both parts of it, the academic and athletic. It was great how they are so focused on helping you and your future. Being able to come in and help the team is something I'm really excited about."
Williams was still working out with Long Beach City College and planning on returning to the program in 2017 if he didn't get an opportunity he really liked. The Sun Devils fit the bill.
"They said I can come contribute with a team and bring an impact," Williams said. "They said I can hopefully help lead the team to big bowl games and they like how I play with enthusiasm and passion for the game, how I have a chip on my shoulder.
"My biggest strength with football is my football IQ, but I play with a lot of passion and enthusiasm. That's what I bring to the field. I'm really quick. I do a lot of footwork stuff. I don't really test that much but last time I did a shuttle it was like 3.9 (seconds)."
King is an older, more mature player, now three years removed from high school. He started at safety as a redshirt freshman at Montana State in 2015 before an internal team incident led to his leaving the program. The coaching staff was fired shortly thereafter.
"I just didn't like how everything was handled and felt like it was better for me to go in a different direction," King said. "I still felt like I could play [FBS football] too, that was a big part of it. So I thought I could do that by going to Long Beach City College.
"To have it happen, really is like a dream come true. Before I came to LBCC I was talking to my cousin and we were just really excited because we saw the opportunity and a lot of guys were getting out. I talked about going to a Pac-12 and ASU was one of the two schools I mentioned, and I won't say the other one. But for this to happen now is definitely a dream come true."
Versatility and an intelligent approach to the game are the hallmarks of what King brings to the field, he said.
"[ASU defensive coordinator Phil Bennett] likes that I can play different spots and that I've shown that in the past," King said. "I'm not coming in with a set role. I'm playing safety obviously but there's three safety positions to fit in. The high safety, the low safety and the nickel type position. On film I played all three last year, that's what I do. Even at Montana State I played all three. So he said he's going to work me out at all three and see what fit the team best honestly.
"I would say above anything I'm a smart player. I'm smart, I'm aggressive, I can cover. I'm focused on the tasks at hand, I know what it takes to win."
Interestingly, King played on the same Los Alamitos High School team as another 2017 ASU defensive back signee, Darien Cornay, a cornerback with four years to play three seasons out of Cerritos College. Cornay is a couple years younger, but they're very familiar with one another. Of course, King got a great sense of what Williams is like on the field as well as teammates last season at Long Beach.
"It's great because I played with [Williams] last year and saw all the things he could do," King said. "Kobe first came in and started making plays, Week 2 we played Saddleback, they were No. 2 in the country at the time, and he started making plays immediately. I'm very excited for him, he has a bright future. Him and Cornay, I'm excited to play with both."