Koetter Pleased with 2004 Recruiting Class

With all of the national letter of intents faxed in, the ASU head coach introduced the new Sun Devil signees, as well as address other recruiting issues.

"It's a great class because it's 22 guys that want to be Sun Devils," said Koetter. "I feel really strong about this class. We made our numbers across the board, with the exception of defensive linemen. We were on the right guys, these guys just didn't come through."

"Nobody gets everybody they want," Koetter continued. "There's nobody out there that does. We didn't and we never will. No one else did either. I think it's really important that we focus on the guys we did get, because those are the guys that wanted to be Sun Devils."

Punter is another position where ASU didn't fill its need, and the Sun Devil coach addressed that matter. "We didn't sign a punter as of this date," he remarked. "We do have a punter in our program by the name of Chris McDonald. He's a walk-on that we think has a chance to be the guy. There's still a chance that that situation could change in the future."

Handicapping prospects is a process that rarely generates a consensus with coaches and fans alike. In the press conference, Koetter expressed his strong feelings on the subject. "This whole recruiting process…one thing that is just on my mind is this whole star system," he stated. "It's the biggest joke I've ever seen. I can give you a million examples of recruits that were one-star one day, and a three or four-star recruit the next day. I guarantee you that the guy that made that switch didn't watch him on film a lick."

"When you're evaluating recruits," Koetter continued. "There's a lot more than goes into it. Watching them on film for more than five minutes is one of them." He added that he purposely asked Mark Brand. ASU's Sports Information Director, to remove all the star ratings from the school's official letter of intent press release.

Negative recruiting is another topic that comes frequently to the forefront this time of year. The ASU coach mentioned that this year was no different. "Negative recruiting is alive and well as it's ever been," claimed Koetter. "Part of that is the coaches that do it, and part of it you take back to the Internet. There's so much misinformation that comes out on the Internet." He added that negative recruiting usually kicks in after a prospect made a verbal or is down to his final two schools.

The 2004 recruiting class marks another successful job by the Sun Devils coaches in signing the top talent in the state. "I think we own the state of Arizona," said Koetter. "We always make that a priority. We've done a great job of that in our tenure here. Coach Nordquist heads that up and all the other coaches help. The high school coaches in Arizona do a great job, and we have a great relationship with them. We want the best players in Arizona at Arizona State."

While Koetter admitted that the number of defensive linemen signed fell short of the team's need, he did believe the quality wasn't compromised by the lack of quantity. "Unfortunately, defensive line is one position where we didn't hit our numbers," remarked Koetter. "We have a bigger need from a numbers standpoint. I think the quality of the defensive linemen we got…we're very satisfied with that. We missed on a lot of guys that we would like to have gotten, but that's recruiting. Some guys commit in June, and some guys wait today to commit. It's tough to balance all that out. We came up short with numbers, but not necessarily in talent."

This recruiting season marked the first time in Koetter's ASU tenure where the team had two sizeable recruiting visit weekends in October. The ASU coach stated that when it comes to evaluating the success of this strategy, the jury is still out. "We're still studying that," said Koetter. "Coach Nordquist is putting together reports on that. We had excellent players in here. Some players we were able to get and some we weren't. We're gonna do a recruiting wrap-up and look at that a little more closely as we move forward."

It has been rumored for a while that the ASU defense is prepared to shift from its 4-2-5 scheme to a 4-3 one. Koetter explained how he views this move. "That's just an alignment," he remarked. "Just because you're in a 4-3 doesn't mean you have three linebackers out there. We did sign three linebackers in this class, which helps us at that position. One thing that we'll do moving forward in spring ball, is try and simplify what we do on defense. The combination of safeties and linebackers – those are our guys. We have to mold them and have to make it work in our defensive system for next year."

"Because we were a nickel defense in the past all the time," Koetter continued, "in situations where we played the 4-3 we had to substitute. As we go forward, with the guys that will be a combination of an outside linebacker or a down safety, we'll be able to mix those two defenses without subbing."

The Sun Devil skipper did admit that not all of the signees are currently academically qualified, but also reiterated his long standing policy of not taking huge risks on recruits when it comes to academics. "We're not gonna sign anybody if we don't think that they have a strong chance to qualify." He said. "There some guys that have to do some work, but we never sign a guy blindly. There's a plan for them, an avenue for them to make it. I fully expect this class to be no different than the other classes that we signed in that respect."

Prior to discussing each recruit individually, the Sun Devil skipper made a point to mention that the heights and weights listed here were measured by ASU, and tend to be more accurate than the school the signees hails from.

Rudy Carpenter QB 6-3 190: "This kid is a winner. He's gangly. He tough. Very mobile. Excellent touch passer. I like everything about this guy. This guy has a chance to be a really good player at a position that we're already deep."

Quency Darley DL 6-2 270: "He's a great kid. Not only serves a need as a defensive tackle. He's a resident assistant (RA) on the floor of football players, which would be hard as it is. He's also the leader on campus of the fellowship of Christian athletes."

Myrio Davis S 6-1 190: "He's a tremendous athlete. He can play a lot of different positions. When we started recruiting him, our coaches were fighting over which position he wants to play. He wants to be a safety, so that's where he's gonna start off. I think he has a huge upside."

Wes Evans DL 6-3 250: "He's already grown, he'll be huge. His dad was a 300 lbs offensive guard at USC, and he told us that coach Kush scared him on his recruiting trip, so he signed with USC instead. Another guy that has a bright future."

Angelo Fobbs-Valentino DB 6-1 185: "He's an all-around football player. He excites us because he can do so many things. He reminds us so much on film of Josh Barrett. He's a track guy, basketball player. I really like his upside."

Max Hall QB 6-1 180: "Great bloodlines to ASU. He's the type of kid that every time you see him, you like him more. When he leads his team to the state championship as junior, and you look at him and he's kinda of skinny…and we see him throw, and the guy can just spin it. He comes to a passing league game, and he throws 21 times and the ball never touched the ground. He's gonna go on a mission, but the thing that's not known at this point if he will enroll in the fall semester and then go on a mission, or go on a mission right away." Koetter added that he would back up whatever decision Hall and his family would make.

DeWayne Hollyfield DL 6-4 275: "When we watched this guy on film we liked him a lot. A very explosive player. He played both defensive end and defensive tackle. He was under recruited, but you watch the film and he makes plays. He's a guy we're excited about and he feels a need. He could still redshirt (has three years to play two)."

Michael Jones WR 6-3 190: "This guy is a great athlete. It's not that we don't have enough quarterbacks on the team, but I really liked this guy as a quarterback. He was getting recruited by some really impressive teams as a quarterback. Coach Guy told us that we can recruit him as an athlete, and he would play wide receiver (which he played as a freshman). He's coming here as a wide receiver because he thinks he can get on the field quicker this way."

Nate Kimbrough WR 6-1 175: "He was one of two of the early commitments last June. He had a tremendous senior year. When coach Jackson and I watched him at practice – what an impressive kid. A very hard worker. A smooth receiver. I think Nate is gonna fit in real good with the type of offense we have."

Jonathan Lehmann OL 6-4 267: "On the film he was playing at about 240 lbs, and when he came here on his visit he was almost 270 lbs. This kid is gonna get huge. He's a real tough guy, hard-nosed player. I'm really impressed with how hard he blocked at the line of scrimmage. We feel good about his chances."

Maurice London FS 6-0 185: "He's the only guy that's already enrolled here. He's a winner. We told him all along that he would be one the main candidates to replace Jason Shivers. He's a student of the game. I really like his attitude, and how hard he's working and how well he's adapting with our guys."

Uriah Marshall CB 5-11 180: "What a great corner prospect. He's a tough guy that has really good corner skills. I love this guy's attitude. Reminds you a lot of Jason Shivers' attitude. A real nice addition to our team."

Bradis McGriff OL 6-5 300: "Huge offensive lineman. He's really athletic. Great basketball player, great feet. We had two offensive linemen (the other being L. Talavou) that were among 15 offensive linemen at the CaliFlorida game. All the coaches that were there said that they were the two best guys representing California. Good guy for us to get in our program."

Zach Miller TE 6-4 245: "What do you say? This guy is a great player. I've been recruiting Arizona a long time, and I don't know if a saw a player come out of high school better than Zach Miller. For ASU fans, very comparable to when Todd Heap came out. The one thing about Zach though, when he played defensive end as a junior, we say ‘this guy will be a great defensive end.' We watched him playing middle linebacker as senior…'this guy is gonna be a great middle linebacker.' He loves football. He would make a difference in any program. I think he has a chance to come in and help us right away. Coach Osborne, Coach Nordquist did a great job recruiting him. He's a great player, and we're fortunate to have him."

Jeremy Payton WR 6-1 190: "Committed to us last June. He originally committed to us as a defensive player, and after the CaliFlorida game he said that defense was too boring, and that he wanted to play offense. So we told him you're a receiver now. He's that type of guy. When Coach Fidler and I were at practice, I told him that I thought he was a better offensive player anyway. We like this guy's practice habits. A solid guy to get in our program."

Andrew Pettes TE 6-4 230: "I want to make it clear. We recruited Andrew all the way as a tight end. We're not moving him to a different position. He wants to be a tight end. We're so fortunate to have two of the three best tight ends in the Western United States. He's a tough guy, he's athletic."

"With the addition of Andrew Pettes and Zach Miller, it will allow us to move more towards a two tight end offense. That's something that wanted to do the whole time we were here. To be honest, we didn't have the depth at tight end to do it, and we had Mike Karney who was a pretty fair fullback."

Dale Robinson LB 6-1 240: "Brought to us via Chris McKenzie. He was the MVP of the Western States league this year. This guy is another player maker. He's a great blitzer. I like this guy a lot."

Brent Russum OL 6-5 275: "From the great state of Idaho. He weighed 230 pounds as a junior. He's one of those guys that early in his career thought he was gonna be a basketball player. He played on one of those AAU teams. He thought he was gonna be Karl Malone, and realized that they're weren't too many 6-5 power forwards in the NBA. So he gained a bunch of weight and transferred that athleticism to the football field. He has a little nastiness to him. I liked the way he plays, and because he's an Idaho guy he gotta to be good (smile)."

Antone Saulsberry LB 6-0 215: "We targeted this guy way back in his junior year. Coach Guy had him at the top of his linebacker list forever. He's fast and a playmaker. When they told me that Nebraska was recruiting him as a running back, I said ‘come on…' I took the film that night and this kid rushed for over a 1,000 yards. His film was very impressive. That's the kind of guy we need at linebacker."

Leo Talavou OL 6-4 320: "He came to our summer camp. He's a huge man. It's amazing how well he moves at that size. He was voted the MVP of the offensive linemen of the CaliFlorida game. Like I said before, all the coaches at that game complemented us about this guy. He's one of those guys that had to hold off on a lot of people (teams) that were coming on him late. We're real happy that he joined us."

Adam Vincent LB 6-2 215: "State champion. This guy can run and hit. They're some coaches that when they tell you a guy can play you believe him, and (Vincent's coach) Coach Wrenn is one of those guys. He tells us that Adam is the best linebacker he ever coached. He comes from a football family – his brother plays at New Mexico State. This is a nice addition to our team."

Price Wilks TB 6-0 185: "Price is a name that wasn't out there initially. He comes from a school that traditionally hadn't had a ton of players (recruited). He was asked to move from fullback to tailback, and had a big year. He reminds me a lot of Randy Hill. This guy will get a lot bigger. Originally we told him we weren't sure where we were gonna play him, but like his high school, coach he kept on telling us that he wanted to be a tailback. The more we watched his tape, the more it became clear to us that we wanted him at tailback in this class."

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