ASU looks to close strong on the 2010 class

With less than three weeks remaining until National Letter of Intent signing day, teams across the nation face a late scramble to cap off their recruiting efforts and capitalize on the availability of uncommitted recruits.

Arizona State entered the weekend with 19 current verbal commitments among its list for the 2010 cycle, including two that signed letters of intent in mid-December and will begin classes next week.

With little time remaining to appeal to the coveted prospects still on the market, ASU has fashioned a weekend of official visitors that could provide the Sun Devil class with some of its most important figures if the Devils are able to gain commitments from the athletes currently touring the Tempe campus.

An intriguing development surfaced Friday from which ASU seems to benefit significantly as junior college safety Eddie Elder indicated his intention to sign with the Sun Devils, rather than rival Arizona, the school to which he verbally committed in mid-December.

According to reports, Elder has the ability to transfer roughly a semester's worth of college credits to his program of choice at ASU that he would be unable to at Arizona, and though he has the ability to remain at the College of San Mateo (Calif.) for the spring semester and join the Wildcats in the fall, Elder apparently has prioritized the ability to participate in spring football over sticking with the Wildcats.

As Devils Digest has reported, Elder has given his verbal commit and is expected to immediately sign a National Letter of Intent, and when that does occur the Sun Devils will have landed the services of a highly talented athlete at a position of need, as Elder was recognized as the Defensive Player of the Year for California junior colleges and a First-Team Junior College All-American by for 2009.

Also, with the departures of Jarrell Holman and Ryan McFoy, who combined for 20 starts in 2009, the 5-11, 190-pounder will compete for time immediately and provides a much needed presence as ASU has little experience at safety behind incumbent first-stringers Clint Floyd and Keelan Johnson.

With the dramatic coaching change at USC, the Sun Devils may be a beneficiary of any recruiting setbacks that the Trojans may suffer. Giant four-star junior college offensive tackle Brice Schwab of Palomar Junior College, who had been committed to USC since the beginning of the 2009 season, recently re-opened his recruiting and decided this week to officially visit ASU.

Rumors have surfaced that Schwab will not be reconsidering the Trojans now that Lane Kiffin and staff have taken the helm, and since his de-commitment, the 6-8, 320-pounder reportedly visited Arkansas earlier this season and has been in contact with schools including Clemson, Florida State, LSU, Oklahoma, Penn State and Pittsburgh, but the Devils had the ability to earn his first official visit after the Pennsylvania native removed his name from the Trojans' list.

Schwab was expected to enroll at USC for the spring term and would have the ability to do so at his ultimate college of choice, which may create a sense of urgency if he is significantly wowed during his stay in Tempe as ASU students resume classes Tuesday.

To add Schwab to ASU's signing class would be nothing short of incredible, as All-Pac-10 tackle Shawn Lauvao and spot starter Tom Njunge depart from the 2009 lineup, while right tackle Matt Hustad has been a major injury concern since his arrival to ASU in 2007. Though the Sun Devils expect a February signature from junior college tackle Aderious Simmons as well as junior college guard Chris De Armas who will begin classes Tuesday at ASU, the staff undoubtedly would like to fortify the offensive line with another instant impact contributor, especially one the quality of Schwab.

It is clear that the Sun Devil coaching staff has placed a heavy sense of urgency on its 2010 signing class as this one potentially will include more junior college signees than any of the three prior classes during the regime's tenure at ASU, but be that as it may, the Sun Devils are still in hot pursuit of highly capable high school prospects to help round out the class.

Linebacker Soma Vainuku of Eureka, Calif., has the physicality and talent level to make a quick impact if he elects to sign with ASU, as the 6-1, 255-pounder is rated as the No. 33 middle linebacker prospect in the nation this year by and also starred as a bruising running back for Eureka High School.

A powerful presence with weight room accomplishments of a 365-pound bench press, 315-pound power clean and 400-pound squat, Vainuku waited until after his season to begin taking official visits and reportedly has placed ASU as his current favorite, but also has visits scheduled to Oregon State and USC however the Trojans have not extended an official scholarship offer to Vainuku yet.

Though the Devils boast one of the nation's elite middle linebackers in superstar Vontaze Burfict as well as a qualified reserve in sixth-year senior Gerald Munns, Vainuku may have the intensity and skill set to work into the lineup at an early point if he selects to wear maroon and gold.

After four-star quarterback prospect Peter Thomas rescinded his verbal commitment to attend Colorado State, the Sun Devils have been scrambling to find a qualified recruit at the position for the 2010 class.

Not helping ASU's efforts was the verbal commitment given by Colorado quarterback prospect Kain Colter to Northwestern on Friday. Colter, a former Stanford commit, visited ASU in December and was considering the Sun Devils as well as Nebraska before selecting Northwestern.

A possible candidate to fill the quarterback void is Taylor Kelly, the 2009 Gatorade State Player of the Year in Idaho, who is visiting ASU this weekend.

Though he has been committed to Nevada since early July, the nimble 6-3, 180-pounder considers ASU to be his ‘dream school' and if offered by the Sun Devils, he is expected to accept the opportunity to attend ASU. As a senior, Kelly threw for 2,509 yards with 22 touchdowns while rushing for 1,005 yards and 10 scores.

With the addition of Elder, ASU is expected to take three to five more players in this class, and this weekend's efforts will likely go a long way toward determining the overall quality of the group that signs in February.

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