Due to the unexpected early departures of Armand Perry and Kareem Orr, Arizona State will have new starters at cornerback and field safety in 2017. Those loses are a big blow for a defense that ranked last nationally in passing yards allowed in each of the past two seasons.
This same group was an area of relative strength in ASU coach Todd Graham's early years at the school -- featuring a handful of all-league players in the secondary -- before turning into a liability because of injuries, early departures and recruiting misses, among other reasons.
Only three scholarship players in this group -- seniors Chad Adams and Maurice Chandler and redshirt freshman Chase Lucas -- were practicing on defense with the team last season, and Lucas hasn't played yet. All three are likely first-team players at the outset of preseason camp. ASU coaches moved redshirt freshman Jeremy Smith from wide receiver to safety, and signed four players who project to the positions in the 2017 class: junior college transfers Darien Cornay and Kobe Williams, both of whom are sophomores; and freshmen cornerbacks Langston Frederick and Alex Perry.
The Sun Devils project to return six players who could play cornerback or field safety in 2018. Only two of them, Chase Lucas and Jeremy Smith were even in the program in 2016. Rebuilding the numbers and talent at the position is a top priority for the Sun Devils in the 2018 class, even after the addition of four players in the previous class. They'll need another four players to climb back to the scholarship target.
The Sun Devils have already accepted a commitment from junior college cornerback Dominique Harrison. We expect ASU to take at least two more commitments with the possibility of three more depending on how the players currently in the program perform this fall.