Koetter ‘Fired Up' Over 2006 Recruiting Class

Addressing needs while making an immediate impact. That seems to be the goal of any recruiting class and the ASU Head Coach feels that this feat has been accomplished when the team added 24 new players on Letter of Intent Day.

"I want to start off thanking the coaching staff and all the staff at ASU for their hard work," said Dirk Koetter as he begun his press conference. "Today is the culmination of many months and a lot of running around, chasing these guys, selling…it's a happy day for us as well." The Sun Devil skipper also gave special recognition to the team's recruiting coordinator and running backs coach Tom Nordquist.

"We signed 24 players, nine junior college players and 15 high school players plus Mike Nixon (a walk-on safety)," Koetter continued. "Mike Nixon will always have to be called something different, because of his affiliation with baseball. Mike is always going to be branded as a ‘walk-on'. It will be like a permanent first name (smile)…we're excited to have him part of our team."

In terms of filling quotas, Koetter presented the following facts which would support the claim that the vast majority of goals for this recruiting class have been achieved:

The team wanted 1 QB – it got one.
The team wanted 2-3 TB's – it got three.
The team wanted two tight ends – it got one.
The team wanted two WR's – it got two.
The team wanted four OL's – it got one.
The team wanted 2-3 DL's – it got five.
The team wanted two CB's – it got three.
The team wanted 4-5 LB's – it got five.
The team wanted one safety – it got two.
The team wanted one punter – it got one

The ASU defense underperformed in 2005, and thus was heavily addressed with this new crop of players. "We need to get better on defense right now," Koetter stated. "I think this class really addressed our immediate needs on defense. Out of our nine junior college guys, six of them are on defense. We have ten new faces on our defense that are older than sophomores in college that can hopefully come in and help us right away." Koetter added that he doesn't feel like the team "mortgaged the farm" with all the JC signings, since 15 players of this class are freshmen.

Koetter acknowledged how hard it has been to land quality defensive tackles, and thus he was very pleased with the players at this position that signed on the dotted line for the maroon and gold, as well as the linebackers. "We got two awesome kids in Jon Hargis and Zach Niusulu," he commented. "There's just not that many 6-3 280 or bigger, tough fast guys, that can run and chase down Reggie Bush or Maurice Drew… I'm really fired up about the five linebackers, including four outstanding freshmen. Balance was a strong theme in this class. The 15 signees on defense were distributed equally in three groups of five at the defensive line, linebacker and defensive back positions.

Offensively speaking, Koetter believed that the "highlight" of the class were the three running backs signed. There was however only one offensive lineman signed, and Koetter proceeded to explain the rationale behind that. "We have seven guys returning on our team that have started on the O-line," he said. "We redshirted four guys last year, plus we have Julius Orieukwu and Paul Fanaika, and we signed Saia Falahola. So we have 14 O-linemen on our team. As a staff, we had to make a decision ‘do we go on an O-lineman that may or may not help us in a couple of years and pass up some of these players on defense?'... we're gonna make the O-Line a higher priority for next year."

This time of year, ranking recruiting classes is all the rage. Therefore, how does the ASU Head Coach evaluate this group? "I have no idea," he replied. "Every coach is gonna come up here and say ‘this is the greatest class on earth.' We're fired up about this class, but they have to get here and play. The class really addressed our needs, especially on defense. How they rank when they get here? You just don't know that right now."

In mid-December it was announced that Koetter and Arizona State have been engaging in talks about a contract extension. One reason for that move was to dispel the notion to prospect players, that he and his staff won't be in Tempe for the tenure of a recruit. "I think that every player, when you go into a home, whether the assistants go or I go, the coaches will tell you that the question comes up ‘how long will your staff be there?'," Koetter explained. "Parents want to know that you will be there for them. We sat in every one of those homes and told them we could guarantee that we will be there. I think it helped." The Sun Devil skipper indicated that he and the university are "making good progress" on those extension talks.

Lance Evbuomwan and Travis Goethel are just two of a handful of players that USC did try to pry away from ASU. Koetter said that he doesn't believe a player's bio should include which schools the Sun Devils did beat to land one's services, and that the real wins come on Saturdays and not on LOI day. "We'll know that we caught USC when we beat them on the field," he explained. "It's always gratifying to not have guys defect out of your class when they get offered at the last second. That means your coaches have done a great job laying down the groundwork. It is gratifying that guys hung in there and kept their word."

Koetter singled out Will Kofe as being an excellent player host for the recruits on their visit, as he helped land three players from the 2006 class. "I want to take Will Kofe with me to Vegas right now," he quipped. "He has the hot hand." Others players mentioned by the ASU Head Coach as being god recruiters were Rudy Burgess, the "Mayor" Keno Walter-White and Tranell Morant.

Landing the best the Grand Canyon state has to offer has become common place with recent Sun Devil recruiting classes. Koetter believes that this is the way it should be. "In our five years here we always have done a great job in the state," he said. "We've now signed 42 (in-state) guys in five years and there's no school that has that kind of record. We should dominate this state – we are the premier school in the state. I know (Arizona) would like to differ with that, but that's not the case. Our aim is to always keep the best players in Arizona playing for ASU, and I think once again we were able to do this year."

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