Coach Koetter started by thanking his coaching staff, as well as the rest of the Football staff and various individuals within in the athletic department. "We start out with 3,000 names in a computer and boil it down to 22 that are now Sun Devils. It's a long road." Koetter said. He also took time to especially thank a certain group of individuals. "The thing that's important in the success of this class is first and foremost our players. They played a huge role in our recruiting. When we bring guys here in for a visit, the fact that our guys have good chemistry…you can't hide it. You can't hide it when you have bad chemistry, and you can't hide it when you have good chemistry."
The ASU skipper said this class was characterized by two unique attributes. "We had more highly recruited guys then we ever had, and we had more guys come down to the wire. We never had this many guys that when we went home last night and still didn't know what they were gonna do." Balance is an another adjective the second year head coach used frequently today. "This class balances our team. We have the numbers we would like to hit at every position but one. This class really allows us to balance our numbers on defense. The cornerstone of this class is speed, and you have to have speed in the league we play in." Koetter also mentioned the large number of versatile players in this recruiting class, which is always invaluable. "They're a lot of guys that have versatility. That's huge in college Football. With the 85 scholarship number, we don't know what's gonna happen."
Koetter mentioned that the uncertainty surrounding several players resulted in not filling in all the available scholarships the team had. "Again, I never gone to bed the night before signing day not knowing what everybody was gonna do the next day. We had four guys that we didn't know what they were gonna do, and they all were national recruits. The other thing is about leaving scholarships spots open is that we always have to look ahead. We have only 12 seniors on our roster. Some positions we wanted to create distance between guys. We didn't want to sit here next year signing only 12 guys. We want our numbers to be balanced across the class."
Last year's recruiting season was marred with several ugly incidents of negative comments within the Pac-10 conference. The ASU coach says that this phenomena changed only slightly this year. "I think the negative recruiting is out there just as much as it was last year. What you're not seeing on the outside this year, is anyone talking about it. The Pac-10 coaches were mandated from the top to keep your mouth shut, and try to settle your differences between the coaches and coaching staff. Negative recruiting will never end - this is a competitive business. We try to sell what our program has to offer, but not everyone does that."
A trend however that did differ from last year was the amount of talent within the state of Arizona. Last year it seemed that there was a plethora of division I prospects in the Grand Canyon state. Nonetheless, this year it seemed that the number of highly touted prospects has considerably decreased, and the overall talent level was weaker. Koetter chooses to take a different approach on this matter. "I don't like to use the term weaker. Arizona produces more division one players than every other state west of the Mississippi aside from Texas and California. It is a fact that the number of senior division I players were lesser this year than it has been in a long time. Last year was s a big year, and you'll see that number go up next year. I don't think the quality of the teams went down. Some of the better players were just underclassmen. I'll take (local) guys like Palmer, Caldwell, Pollak, and Miller any year."
Two positions on the team that were barely recruited were tailback and wide receiver. The ASU coach explains the motives behind this decision. "We didn't go hard on any tailbacks unless it was a potential guy that could move to another position. Tailback was the main position that we wanted to create some distance because we like the five tailbacks we have on scholarships. We have four tailbacks that have three or four years of eligibility. I don't think there was a guy on the board that was better than those four guys. Tailback and wide receivers are a top priority for next year's class." When asked in specific about the recruiting approach for the wide receivers he replied: "We like to have 7-8 wide receivers on scholarship. We have five returning players, and Burgess makes it six. We had one guy that we had our sights on, and we didn't get him. That happens sometimes. We were on the best players in the country. We made up our mind that we weren't gonna settle for a lesser player. We chose to pass on players that we didn't really targeted."
After an improbable 8-6 campaign and a more than respectable showing in the Holiday Bowl, one could expect the Sun Devils to strike gold recruiting wise. Koetter believes that this theory did come to fruition. "After the Holiday Bowl, every recruit we brought in knew Terrell (Suggs) and Andrew's (Walter) name. It's not very often where you see a defensive player get the national recognition that Terrell Suggs got. I think that's why you see 12 signees on defense. That really legitimized the 4-2-5 defense. Nobody is laughing at that defense anymore." Actually, the only reason to laugh, smile, and be genuinely excited is those 22 young men who chose today to play their collegiate career in the maroon and gold. ASU's plethora of returning starters are reason enough to be giddy over the 2003 season, and these newest additions just further enhance the anticipation of what lies ahead for the program that is commonly labeled as the sleeping giant of the Pac-10.
Sun Devils Announce Their 2003 Recruiting Class
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