Where Arizona State recruiting stands before signing day: Needs, new faces and a class dogged by uncertainty (2024)

Table of Contents
The transfers Remaining needs Notes

TEMPE, Ariz. — With an NCAA investigation hanging over the football program, Arizona State had no choice but to bolster its 2022 recruiting class through the transfer portal. In some ways, coach Herm Edwards has delivered. But the obstacles and complications have persisted, particularly with the coaching staff.

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Wednesday is national signing day. For most college football fan bases, the festivities will provide a few hours of hope, not unlike baseball’s first day of spring training. But hope is difficult to find around Arizona State these days. Offensive coordinator Zak Hill resigned last week, becoming the fourth coach to lose his job over an alleged role in recruiting violations.

With more change possibly on the way as the NCAA investigation continues, everything involving Edwards’ program should be written in pencil. The murky future makes recruiting difficult. Entering this week, Arizona State’s 2022 recruiting class ranks 84th nationally and 11th in the Pac-12, according to 247Sports Composite ratings. Although the Sun Devils have filled certain holes, they still need help at others.

Let’s take a look at where things stand.

The transfers

So far, the Sun Devils have received eight commitments from the portal. They’re expected to add more but program uncertainty may make that difficult. A look at the eight in place, ranked in order of potential impact.

1. Nesta Jade Silvera, defensive tackle:Coming out of high school, Silvera was the No. 2 defensive tackle in the 2017 class. Although he didn’t reach expectations with Miami, Silvera has pro potential. At least one teammate thought he was the Hurricanes’ best defensive player last season. Silvera likely will compete to replace the dependable D.J. Davidson at nose tackle, lining up next to Jermayne Lole. He has one season of eligibility remaining.

2. Xazavian Valladay, running back:With Rachaad White (NFL) and DeaMonte Trayanum (transferred to Ohio State) gone, running back was a significant need for the Sun Devils. They did well to land Valladay, who was among the top rushers in the Mountain West. Valladay is a workhorse and will add leadership to a position room that includes third-year back Daniyel Ngata and freshman Tevin White. Valladay has one season of eligibility.

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3. Chris Martinez, guard: Arizona State has three starters to replace on the offensive line and not much depth within the program, so getting linemen through the portal was a must. At San Diego State, Martinez (6-4, 310) started every game at left guard last season. At Arizona State, he’ll likely compete for a starting job at right guard.

4. Messiah Swinson, tight end: Under Hill, the tight end was a big part of Arizona State’s offense. With the offensive coordinator position open, that could change. At 6-foot-7 and 255 pounds, Swinson provides a big target, similar to departing tight end Curtis Hodges. Last season at Missouri, he had five catches for 46 yards. Swinson should have at least two years of eligibility.

5. Paul Tyson, quarterback: The great-grandson of legendary coach Paul “Bear” Bryant, the 6-foot-5 Tyson spent the previous three years as a backup at Alabama. He has a strong arm and good size. It’s doubtful he’ll challenge Jayden Daniels for this season’s starting job, but Tyson could be the program’s quarterback-in-waiting. With the COVID-19 waiver, he still has three years of eligibility.

6. Rodney Groce, Jr, linebacker: Groce had an impressive scholarship offer list coming out of high school, ranking as the No. 29 inside linebacker in the Class of 2019. At Mississippi State, Groce appeared in one game in 2020 and then left the program last October. At 6-2 and 245 pounds, he has good size and has four remaining seasons of eligibility. He has time.

7. Des Holmes, offensive line:Throughout his time at Penn State, Holmes (6-5, 310) contributed as a backup and on special teams. The Sun Devils hope a change of scenery suits him well.

8. Emmit Bohle, offensive line: A transfer from Division II Northern State, Bohle has great athletic ability for a lineman his size (6-7, 300). A South Dakota product who played 9-man football in high school, he’s considered a late bloomer. Bohle has two seasons of eligibility and is expected to compete at right tackle.

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Remaining needs

The Sun Devils haven’t filled all their needs. With spring practice expected to start in late February, questions remain on both sides.

Secondary: Arizona State needs to replace both starting cornerbacks and safeties off last season’s defense. This won’t be easy. Third-year corner Jordan Clark and third-year safety Kejuan Markham have positioned themselves for bigger roles, but the Sun Devils likely will need outside help to fill out the secondary. Former Illinois safety Derrick Smith initially announced an intention to transfer to Arizona State but later backed out. Arizona State has a commitment from three-star safety Tristan Dunn from Sumner, Wash., but Dunn didn’t sign during the early signing period and could end up elsewhere. Arizona State recently offered D’Angelo Bellamy, a defensive back at Modesto Junior College in California.

Receiver: Arizona State produced 194.6 passing yards per game in 2021, which ranked 99th in the FBS. Fixing it is an offseason priority, and it’s off to a bad start with Hill’s resignation. Daniels needs to improve, but the receivers also need an upgrade. Ricky Pearsall and LV Bunkley-Shelton have had strong moments, but the Sun Devils lack a big-play threat that strikes fear in the hearts of Pac-12 defensive coordinators.

Offensive line: Even with the three O-line transfers, Arizona State needs more options up front. The Sun Devils are in the hunt for center Brian Greene, a two-year starter at Washington State who is also reportedly considering Michigan State and Virginia Tech. City College of San Francisco tackle Buffalo Kruize last week tweeted that Arizona State has offered him a scholarship.

Notes

• Aside from Silvera, Arizona State is positioned to add three defensive linemen. Robby Harrison, who already has signed, is the nation’s No. 166 lineman, per the 247 Sports Composite rankings. Antelope Valley College end Dylan Hall and three-star edge rusher Blazen Lono-Wong have committed to the Sun Devils but have not yet signed. Hall once played at Boise State. Lono-Wong attracted minimal recruiting interest in Hawaii. One thing in Arizona State’s favor: Position coach Robert Rodriguez might be the best in the program at developing players. Nearly every lineman under his watch has turned into a contributor. Look no further than freshman walk-on B.J. Green II, who last season led Arizona State in sacks.

•A three-star prosect from Springfield, Ore., Jacob Newell already is getting attention as a possible breakout candidate. The athletic 6-5, 220-pound tight end recently impressed scouts at the Polynesian Bowl. “He’s a smooth athlete who can get open and doesn’t look stiff in his routes,” wrote 247Sports national recruiting analyst Greg Biggins. “It’s a mystery why he didn’t have double-digit Power 5 offers.” Newell joins Swinson and junior-college transfer Bryce Pierre as the three tight ends the program has added.

• Former Colorado State kicker Robert Liss, a Phoenix native, recently announced he is transferring to Arizona State, but he will join the program as a walk-on. The Sun Devils expect freshman Carter Brown, regarded as one of the country’s top high school kickers, to take over kicking duties. Brown signed with Arizona State in December.

(Photo of Herm Edwards: Christian Petersen / Getty Images)

Where Arizona State recruiting stands before signing day: Needs, new faces and a class dogged by uncertainty (1)Where Arizona State recruiting stands before signing day: Needs, new faces and a class dogged by uncertainty (2)

Doug Haller is a senior writer based in Arizona. He previously worked 13 years at The Arizona Republic, where he covered three Final Fours and four football national championship games. He is a five-time winner of the Arizona Sportswriter of the Year award. Follow Doug on Twitter @DougHaller

Where Arizona State recruiting stands before signing day: Needs, new faces and a class dogged by uncertainty (2024)
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