Analyzing The 2003 Recruiting Class

ASU had a few glaring holes to fill following the 2002 season. With many of the team's young players starting to play significant minutes, the majority of ASU's 2003 recruiting class was made up of talented players who will add to the competitive balance of the team. Amazing depth has been added to the entire defense, as well as the offensive line. The following is a breakdown by position of the players who make up this season's recruiting class.

Quarterback: There is some speculation that Andrew Walter could have another stellar year in 2003, and begin to be projected as a high NFL pick. Whether that's the case or not, ASU did very well to combat that scenario. They landed their first ever Elite 11 signal caller in Mike Affleck. In a late recruiting surprise, they also snagged Sam Keller, a late decomitt from Michigan. ASU now has two huge gunslingers to run Koetter's vertical passing game.

Running back: With five scholarship running backs on the roster, ASU did not fill this position with any players this year. Unless a stellar player was going to sign, ASU wasn't going to add anyone here.

Wide receiver: ASU got a nice recruit in Rudy Burgess. He is a shade under six feet and is a do-everything type of football player that the coaches expect to excel once committing full time to this position. Many fans had hoped and anticipated more talented receivers jumping on board, but another match could not be made.

Tight end: ASU finally has got the tight end to replace Todd Heap with the arrival of Aaron Austin. He is already on campus, and is expected to become a huge part of Koetter's offense. There is a lot of speculation that he could be NFL bound in the next two years. Stellar athlete Brent Miller has also been added to give great depth to both the recruiting class, and the position. Listening to Koetter rave about Miller's athleticism leads one to believe that he's a very special player who will make quite a mark in the maroon and gold.

Offensive line: ASU might have missed on the big Texan (Ofa Mohetau), but they landed a well-balanced bunch of linemen this year. The other big Texan, Julius Orieukwu is looking like a tremendous offensive tackle prospect. He has a 7-foot wingspan, and is rapidly filling out. So far he has displayed a great deal of athleticism, as well as academic prowess. ASU fulfilled its commitment to recruit Hawaii with the signing of Brandon Rodd. He is expected to redshirt in 2003 while beefing up. Center/Guard prospect Robert Gustavis left the team down south to join the Devils in this year's class. He will likely redshirt as well. In-state recruit Mike Pollak is said to have a real mean streak on the field, and posses a nice combination of athleticism and strength. He may be a very underrated recruit that could blossom in the future.

Defensive Line: The biggest news came back in January when ASU legacy Kyle Caldwell announced his commitment to the Devils. He is a top 100 prospect, and a likely candidate not to redshirt. The Devils also landed his in-state friend Brett Palmer. The kid is physically imposing and is as true a Sun Devil as you'll find. Already involved with the team is mid-year JC transfer Gabe Reininger. The tackle figures to get in the mix right away in ASU's two deep rotation at his position.

Linebacker: Losing three starters last year left the Devils wanting to make a big impact with players who could contribute immediately at linebacker. They landed the nation's top JC linebacker prospect in mid-year transfer Justin Burks. He will participate in spring ball ready to deliver the goods. Last year's in state commit De'Andre Johnson qualified academically, and is currently in school working out with the team. ASU also made a huge connection when they won out the services for Mark Washington, the son of a former Colorado Buffalo. The fact that he comes from Division one factory Long Beach Poly could be huge for the Sun Devils in years to come.

Defensive Backs: ASU absolutely cleaned up here. They arguably "caught" the two fastest players in the country, both from the junior college ranks. Chris McKenzie committed very early, and held true despite being recruited by many prominent schools. At 4.15 His speed is legendary, and he will be counted on to change the momentum in games.

Chijioke Onyenegecha may have been the Devils best commit of the day. Some feel he is already the best corner in football on the collegiate level. He has the height, strength, speed and name to play right away and pay huge dividends for ASU. On the High school level, ASU landed another national recruit in Chad Green, who was getting looks from all across the country. His height and speed make him a likely future star for the Devils. The safeties brought in were Daniel Varvel, Josh Barrett and Darnel Henderson. All three combine great size, speed and instincts. Barrett and Henderson were under the radar guys that Koetter and crew specialize in finding, while Varvel picked Arizona State over UCLA.

Kicker: The Sun Devils got the kicker they coveted early in the summer when Jesse Ainsworth committed to them following their camp. He is said to have a huge leg, and if any opposing players get by the front line of the Devils' special teams, they may want to think twice about running into this kicker, who also happens to be a defensive standout.

All in all, the Devils filled most key areas of need with significant additions. The class has a lot of size and speed. Another thing to consider is which schools were beat out for these prospects.

QB: USC, Michigan
DL: UCLA, Oregon, Neb.
LB: CU, Florida, UNC

Happy birthday to Coach Koetter and congratulations on a great class!

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