ASU ties run deep with Van Der Wal

Arizona State's Junior Day event was undoubtedly exciting for many of the prospects who attended. For Dillon Van Der Wal it was also nostalgic. The Oaks Christian (Calif.) Defensive end grew up a Sun Devil fan and arriving on campus for the first time as an ASU recruit was naturally a very positive experience.

"My dad went to Arizona State and graduated from the College of Business there," said the 6-8 235 Dillon Van Der Wal. "It has been a household favorite team ever since I was a kid. My two favorite players are Terrell Suggs and Todd Heap.

"When I was young we would go down to Tempe on some weekends to watch the Sun Devils play on Saturday and the Cardinals play on Sunday when they were still playing at Sun Devil stadium."

"Junior Day was an awesome experience. It was just surreal meeting all the coaches and hear them talk to me about possibly coming to play at Arizona State. I talked a lot to coach Trent Bray (his recruiting coach) before junior day and I feel very comfortable with him. He's very personable and I have a great relationship with him."

Van Der Wal commented that got picked up at the airport by his former high school teammate and current Arizona State tight end Christopher Coyle. The defensive end spent a lot of time over the weekend with Coyle as well as quarterback Brock Osweiler.

"I talked to Chris a lot during the season," remarked Van Der Wal. "He said that he was getting a lot of looks from different schools and there is not a school that be rather be at than ASU. He feels that this is the best decision he ever made. I see a little of myself in Chris and that was cool to hear him say that."

If and when he did decide to commit to the maroon and gold, Van Der Wal admitted that Coyle's presence would be a factor.

"I wouldn't say he would be a big reason," explained Van Der Wal. "I know a lot about the school already growing up and being a fan."

The defensive end naturally met with defensive line coach Grady Stretz, and his encounter with him was just one more positive experience that took place this past weekend.

"I talked to him a couple of times before junior day and he is a very fun guy to talk to," said Van Der Wal. "When I met him in person I could tell how energetic he was. He's very up-tempo and passionate about what he does.

"I was there for only one half of the spring game and I love the way the defensive line plays. They are always rushing up field and making plays, because they don't want you to be a gap player. That's what I like to do."

As a junior Van Der Wal collected 70 tackles and 14 sacks, and as a tight end he registered15 receptions and three touchdowns for the 13-1 Lions whose only loss was 42-41 heartbreaker in the Northwest Division championship game.

Some schools such as UCLA and Oregon are recruiting him as a tight end and he indicated he has no preference which side of the ball he will end up lining up in at college.

"I feel that I can make plays at both positions," claimed Van Der Wal. "I went to the Nike camp on Sunday and I played tight end there because I feel like you get more out of camp doing one on ones without pads a tight end. You play as defensive end and the offensive linemen just end up holding you the whole time, but I did a little defensive end there too."

The Sun Devil staff, according to Van Der Wal, like the up-temp pace in which the Oak Christian standout play at.

"The coaches said they like my pass rush, my long arms and just my frame in general," said Van Der Wal. "I have some good hand speed too. I do want to improve my get-off of the ball because you can never be fast enough. I also want to a better job working getting off of offensive linemen.

"I'm just getting a great vibe from the coaches. They told me that because I already have good technique they can see me playing early if I came there."

Van Der Wal already visited Colorado, UCLA and Washington, and plans to visit Stanford and California while he attends the NIKE combine at the Cardinal's campus. He may also attend the NIKE combine at Oregon. "I'm playing basketball with AAU club – Team Odom," he explained. "So he will be hard for me to make camps."

The defensive end revealed that he has been talking to his suitors about possibly playing both sports.

"Coach Bray said that as long as I can keep up my grades and have the time I can play both sports," said Van Der Wal. "He told me that they haven't had anyone do that in a while there, but they're not totally opposed to it. Most the other schools I talk to are open about it but I know I'm going to college mainly to play football."

Baylor and Minnesota are the only schools who offered. Could ASU be the next?

"When I talked to Coach Erickson he said that I should be getting an offer in the next two weeks," said Van Der Wal. "Coach Bray is supposed to visit me at school on Wednesday so I could even get an offer at that time."

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