Q&A With Coach Jeff Grimes

ASU's offensive line coach talks about the seven new recruits in this position, as well as the youth and inexperience concerns of the offensive line group as a whole, going into spring practice and the 2002 season.

DevilsDigest: Coach, what can you tell us about the seven new offensive line recruits?

Jeff Grimes: Louis Areyan – "He's a tackle that can help us right away. After losing five seniors we wanted to get one JC tackle and one JC guard (Fa'aita), so he's our tackle. The only negative is that he has some classes he needs to take care of in the spring, before he joins us. He's a very athletic guy. Not real tall for a tackle – 6-4 300 pounds. He runs very well for an offensive lineman and has very quick feet. He's very flexible. Like any junior college transfer, we'll have to see how long it will take him to make the adjustment. But he pulls and pass blocks real well. He was the punter for most of the season, and part of the kickoff return team. That says a lot about his athletic ability."

Stephen Berg – "He's a kid that we identified early, being that he's an in-state guy. We were after him hard from day one, and were in a battle with other Pac-10 teams to get him. If he walked into a room, you'd think that he's already a Pac-10 lineman. He's 6-5, little over 300lbs. For a high school kid, he's really well put together. Very athletic, and very intelligent. He could play either a guard or tackle."

Jake Bingham – "Another kid we identified early, and we were in a great battle to sign him. He's our most highly recruited offensive lineman that we signed. Very tough and aggressive kid. Moves well for a guy his size. We're real glad to have him. He's projected as a guard."

Andrew Carnahan – "He's a real interesting guy. He's the tallest of the bunch. He's 6-7 and only 270 pounds. I say only 270 pounds, because he looks skinny. He plays on his high school Basketball team. You really don't find that many guys that tall that can move as well as he can. He committed early to Texas Tech. We stayed with him all along, because I had a feeling that he wanted to come to ASU. We didn't find out for sure until signing day, but we're real happy that he chose us. He's a very intelligent kid, who has a lot of gifts on and off the field. Ranked in the top 10 (academically) in his class. A very well rounded person. We project him as a tackle."

Tim Fa'aita – "We'll real glad to have him. He's not quite tall as most offensive linemen. But he really packs a punch in a real compact frame. I'm very pleased with his speed. As opposed to Louis, he's already here working out and will go through spring ball. He's a great worker in the weight room, and in the classroom. He's doing everything we expected him to do. Projected as guard."

Zach Krula – "An interesting guy. Like Carnahan he's a big mean looking guy. 6-6 275. He got down from 300 because he's wrestling. Has a ton of potential. You look at him and he's real lanky guy, and you can only imagine how his body composition will change in the next few years, and how big he'll be. He played guard in high school, so I don't know if he'll play guard or tackle for us."

Chaz White – "I liked him just by watching film. When I saw him in person playing Basketball one day, I liked him a whole lot more. He's 6-4 300 plus pounds, and he's fluid on the court like a 240 pound kid. Very athletic for a guy build like he his. He has some ties to our university through the Heap family. We would probably start him out as a guard. He comes from St. John's, which is located two hours east of Flagstaff. It was a pretty and well worth drive up there. We got to fly up there too once."

DD: I know they are many theories why seven linemen were drafted in this class. Can share your thoughts on this topic?

JG: "We had five seniors graduating, and we needed immediate help as well as develop some depth. We like to carry 17 offensive linemen on the team, and we were down to 10 after they five seniors left the team. We just wanted to sign a lot of guys. The interesting thing is that all the guys we signed were top on our list. There were other guys we recruited, but if you told me back in September that we would get these seven guys, I would call it a day and be happy. The sequence of events that took place to sign all of them was amazing. Shortly before signing day we only had the two JC guys and Krula committed. Berg committed with two weeks left, Bingham committed the Sunday before signing day, White the night before, and Carnahan the day of. Things just came together for us perfectly. I didn't think we could sign seven guys that we were real high on, considering the talent that was out there this year. This is a tremendous class from a numbers standpoint, as well as potential. This could be one of the best classes to come through here in a while. Now it's up to them to perform, but they have the ability to do so."

DD: You mentioned the fact that many of these players committed to ASU very late in the process, and some decommitted from other schools. With all the stories about negative recruiting taking place, how did you manage to avoid those unethical tactics in getting those players to sign?

JG: "You're right there was a lot of negative recruiting out there. Our staff always tries to focus on the positive, which is ASU and its positives. We rather not spend our time talking about other places. The two guys that decommitted were Carnahan and White. Carnahan told us the day he committed to Texas Tech to keep on calling him and recruiting him. That doesn't sound like a guy that's 100% sure, and his coach told me the same thing. After he committed to Texas Tech, we didn't start to recruit him in a negative way, but in the same positive way we recruited him all along. White committed early to Oregon, but still wanted to be recruited by us. He wanted to visit us, and when he did he committed to us. And then he just went back and forth between both schools. It was a never a deal where we were stealing anybody from somebody else's list. These were both guys we recruited for a long time, who told us that they still wanted to be recruited by us after committing to another school. The recruiting is a season by itself, and every player you lose to a team or gain is like a game won or lost. We invested a lot of time in these kids, and it was rewarding for us to get everyone we really wanted."

DD: Looking forward to this season, it's no secret that the offensive line is a major area of concern. This is due to the fact that it's dominated by young players with very little experience. Do you share these concerns?

JG: "Anytime you lose that many players in one position, there's concern. All five all of our seniors are in the NFL combine, so we lost some good players. There's only one guy who has proven himself in a game (Regis Crawford). Other guys have done some nice things, but they're young and unproven. So when we put guys like that in a position to produce for us, the question is how will they perform? In my opinion, it's a challenge but it's exciting too. We're still to some extent a new staff and a new system, and a lot of players will play in the second year of the system. In some ways, they'll have more experience even though they don't have playing experience. I like the athleticism of our young linemen. I think we have a lot of guys who can step up and play. I have no question we'll find five guys to do that, I just can't tell you who those five will be."

DD: Do you want to conclude spring practice finding five clear cut starters in this group, who will carry over to Tontozona as the first unit, and ultimately start in the first game of 2002?

JG: "Yes and no. Yes, you would like to identify your five best guys right away. However, they'll be six more guys joining in the fall. I'm not gonna tell those six that the starters have be named, and they'll start from behind. It's not fair to them. The reality is that it's hard for a lineman to play his first year in the program. But they will be given an opportunity."

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