Introducing The 2003 Class: Kyle Caldwell

During the course of the off-season, DevilsDigest will conduct a series of interviews with the newest members of the Sun Devil Football team. Our first story features Kyle Caldwell – a national blue chipper who chose the hometown team. In this exclusive interview, the defensive end talks about choosing ASU, life away from Football, following in the footsteps of his father, and possibly filling in the large shoes vacated by Terrell Suggs.

In recent years, Arizona State has done an admirable job taking care of its own back yard when it comes to recruiting. Thus, it's not surprising to hear how long ago Caldwell started being courted by the Sun Devils. "ASU recruited me since my sophomore year." Recalls Caldwell; "They recruited me when they were also recruiting Loren Howard and (current ASU player) Kellen Bradley. I remember (defensive coordinator) Coach Guy talking to me about being a Sun Devil. ASU was the first school to show true interest in me, so I was excited meeting him and other ASU coaches. They offered me a scholarship the first day they could."

Even with a mile long list of honors and accolades, the defensive end is still amazed at the phenomena that is recruiting. One may think that a sought after athlete like him would enjoy the process most of the time, but he tells us that was far from being the case. "Recruiting just came at me in waves." Says the top rated player in the state of Arizona, "Whenever there was a date when something could happen, like the phone calls can start coming, that first week was grueling. Then it would mellow out, and you would get maybe two phone calls a day. It's kind of like a roller coaster. It's funny because back then you get treated like a king, and now I'm a gonna be a freshman. I'm a piece of meat at the bottom (smile). You're not gonna get that royal treatment that you got a month ago." That sudden change in status doesn't concern Caldwell one bit, since he has been in this position before. "I don't think it will be too much of an adjustment. I think I have the ability to come into ASU, and hopefully make a difference early. That will get the respect of the older guys of the team. I saw that happening to me when I played two games on the varsity team when I was a freshman. I don't think it will be an adjustment, I think it will be fun."

The Saguaro High School standout who had 30 sacks and 131 tackles his senior year, visited Oregon, Nebraska, and UCLA along with ASU. He mentioned that he was also seriously considering Notre Dame, as well as Texas and Colorado. Caldwell was born in Dallas, and aside from living there and in Scottsdale; he also spent some time in Philadelphia, and in the Virgin Islands (St. Thomas). His surroundings were the biggest element in his decision to narrow down his school of choice to ASU and UCLA. "I had no idea what to expect in those visits. As soon as I got to Nebraska I was amazed by the facilities, their training table, and walking into Memorial Stadium is a sight to be hold. But when I was done with the visits, it all came down to what was good for me. A lot of it came down to the city. That was subconsciously the biggest factor. I realized I couldn't live in Eugene because of the weather. Crossing town in five minutes isn't what I wanted in the place I was going to live for the next four years. The same thing with Nebraska - Lincoln was like Eugene just a little bigger. So then it just came down to L.A. and Phoenix, and then it just came down to what felt like home." The defensive end also mentioned the many distractions and temptations that Los Angeles has to offer, as another reason why he chose the Sun Devils over the Bruins.

Much has been said and written about Sun Devil great Bryan Caldwell, and his role in the recruiting process of his son. The former ASU star made it a point not to force Kyle to chose the Devils, which according to the younger Caldwell was a smart move. "If your parent pushes you too far to do something, it's a child instinct to rebel and do the opposite. Maybe he used reverse psychology on me (smile)…He told me that if I don't feel comfortable about ASU, I should drop them. He wanted me to do whatever I felt most comfortable with, and that was the greatest thing with him not applying any pressure. I knew that probably deep inside he wanted me to go to ASU or UCLA, because he loves both schools. He always gave me great advice during recruiting, and dealt with a lot of the phone calls from the coaches. He's been through this process before, and he could weed out what was a lie or a truth. He was also a recruiter before, because he use to coach. He was by far the greatest tool I had through this whole process."

And now that he will don the maroon and gold, and even wear his father's old number, how does he fill about continuing the legacy? "I want to be known for my own performance." He says, "I know for the next few years I'll be compared to him a lot, but I do want to make a name for myself. I'm gonna wear #50, and that will bring a lot of tears to my family's eyes to see that number worn with the Caldwell name on the back of the jersey. But I definitely not only want to make a name for myself, but also excel even more on what he did. I think every child wants to be like his father, but also be better."

Kyle Caldwell possesses many talents and interests away from the playing field. He actually regrets that playing Football and going through the recruiting process has kept him away from further honing his art skills. Caldwell likes to draw oil and pastel paintings, and even dabbed a little into sculpting. Some of his work had been displayed through out galleries in the Phoenix area. Charity work is another endeavor dear to the defensive end's heart. "I used to do the wildlife restoration projects, and raise funds for the Girls and Boys Club. At construction sites we help take out and replant 200-year-old cactuses. Those plants are special, and you want to keep them going. I did other fundraisers with the club too. I would love to continue and give back to the community when I play at ASU. Especially now that I'm in my hometown, I would like to give back everything that they have given to me. I would love to even start some new projects."

And then there's another hobby of Caldwell that could have potentially landed him at another Pac-10 school…"I also really like surfing. That was one of the things that attracted me to UCLA – being close to the beach. My dad grew up in Huntington Beach, and he taught me how to surf when I was six years old. I think that's what helped me be such a good football player, because it teaches you so much balance and coordination. Being out there alone in the water is such a great feeling."

Coaches usually expect highly touted incoming freshmen to be a vital part of the team in their first year. Caldwell doesn't shy from that expectation. "My goal as a freshman is to contribute right away. I would love to start, but in reality just contributing on defense and even on special teams would be an honor for me. They definitely hinted at me not redshirting, especially because I can long snap and play special teams. I would not like to redshirt, that's for sure." The defensive end who specializes in harassing opposing signal callers, does take a lot of pride in his special teams skills. "I did long snapping and short snapping for PAT's. (special teams) Coach Osborne told me to keep working on it. I know ASU graduated its long snapper, so that may be an opportunity for me. Long snapping is one of the first things my dad taught me. You have guys long snapping and playing for the NFL league minimum of $250,000 a year. So if you can get into the league and do that, you're doing pretty good (smile)."

Caldwell is working with a personal trainer right now, and plans to work out in the Sun Devils' summer conditioning program. He also adds that he's very anxious to conclude his high school days and quickly embark on his college career. "I can't wait to get out of Saguaro. I've been waiting for that for a while. My life is just starting out, and I want to move on. The upcoming years, that's what it's all about. It's preparing you for what's ahead for the rest of your life." One event in specific that he is looking forward to is playing Northwestern defensive lineman and close friend – Loren Howard. "I know that I'll be playing Northwestern two seasons in a row in a few years. Yeah, I'm kinda bummed I don't get to play with him. Back in high school we were talking about both of us going to ASU. But you have look at the success that he had last year, and honor the decision he made. It obviously worked out best for him."

ASU fans aren't the only ones anxious for Caldwell's playing days to begin. Head Coach Dirk Koetter is also chomping at the bit, and already declaring that this blue chipper could possibly fill in Suggs' huge shoes at defensive end. Kyle is awe struck over that statement. "My dad and I heard that live press conference in the car, and we both looked at each other and said ‘Wow'. That was a huge statement by Coach Koetter, and it's awesome that he thinks so highly of me. But like I said, I'd love to come and make a name for myself. To be compared to Terrell Suggs - I can't be. He is too good of an athlete. He did some amazing things at ASU. By no means do I see filling his shoes right away."

In our interview, Caldwell stated that one reason he chose the Sun Devils, as his school of choice was "I feel greatness coming to ASU in the near future." If that prophecy will materialize, no one would be surprised if Caldwell had a big hand in fulfilling that prediction. That surely would accomplish his mission of making a name for himself.

Recruit Profile

Name

Kyle Caldwell

High School

Saguaro HS (Scottsdale, AZ)

Position

DE

Height

6-3

Weight

265

Date of Birth

10/18/84

Birthplace

Dallas, TX

Nickname

"Coggs" Loren Howard and the older guys gave it to me. It doesn't mean anything (smile).

Favorite TV Show

Real TV

Favorite Movie

Ace Ventura Pet Detective

Favorite Singer

Alice in Chains

Favorite Food

Steak and Potatoes

Favorite Drink

Protein Drink

Favorite Athlete

Lavar Arrington. One of the reasons I wore #11 I high school.

Favorite Pro Team

Tennessee Titans

Person you most admire

My father. All the qualities he has not only as an athlete, but also as a person – I'd like to have those.

First Football Memory

I was five years old. My dad was coaching at Scottsdale Community College. I was just running around, going through all the drills with my "Toys ‘R Us" helmet. My dad was teaching me how to long snap and tackle.

One Thing most people don't know about me

I'm really gifted in art. That's something I really like to do in my spare time. I might be interested in taking some classes in college.

Why did you choose ASU?

Fulfilled everything I need.

Where do you want to be in ten years?

Wherever the road takes me. I just want t make sure that I take care of my education and get my degree. I'm just thinking about the present now, and how to make my life better.

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