September 29, 2006

Huge recruiting weekend on tap for ASU

Over the course of the past two weeks, ASUDevils.com has spoken with and highlighted a number of prospects who have plans on making their official visits to the Arizona State campus for this Saturday's Pac-10 match-up against Oregon, a Top-15 ranked opponent.

A lot of schools shy away from having their big recruiting weekends against what could be their strongest opposition, but ASU is using this weekend as an opportunity to upset one of the nation's top-ranked teams in front of several of their top recruiting targets. A high-profile opponent will also help ASU pack the stadium and should make for a very loud environment that could open up the eyes of the talented prospects in attendance. Having these players in for the Pac-10 home-opener never hurts either.

We have confirmed eight official visitors for the weekend, but wouldn't be shocked if several more make the trip to Tempe this weekend for the clash in the desert.

These prospects are confirmed as expected visitors:

T.J. Simpson: Peoria (Ariz.) Peoria, Wide receiver, 6-foot-1, 170 pounds. The reigning 100, 200 and 400 meter sprint champion in the state of Arizona committed to ASU in late June over Oregon, Oregon State and UTEP. Simpson developed a relationship with defensive line coach Grady Stretz and that along with some familiarity with his future position-coach Darryl Jackson led to his comfort level with the Sun Devils, and ultimately put him at easy with the early decision. Simpson recorded five touchdown catches and was averaging over 25 yards per reception through his team's first three games of the season.

Martin Coleman: Huntington Beach (Calif.) Edison, Offensive tackle, 6-foot-5, 290 pounds. This may come as the biggest surprise out of all of the official visitors of the weekend. Coleman committed to USC way back at the end of April and the USC coaches can't be thrilled that this Rivals100 member is taking other visits. His commitment to the Trojans is now decidedly in the "soft" category. Coleman has also set up a visit to the University of Miami on November 4th. Coleman has the frame and upside to be an absolute star at the collegiate level, and he hasn't even been playing football for three full years. Coleman has stated his interest to look around for quite some time but it would be somewhat surprising if he were to de-commit in the near future. If anything changes with his recruitment, it will likely come after he has taken all of his visits.

Andre Ferguson: Redlands (Calif.) East Valley, Weakside DE, 6-foot-2, 200 pounds. We've spoken with Ferguson a couple of times and he makes it very clear that he does not want to name any favorites at this point in the process. Ferguson's relationship with Coach Tom Osborne certainly has ASU right in the mix with some of the other schools that have offered such as Colorado State, San Diego State, and Kansas, and his relationship with ASU freshman tight end Lance Evbuomwan provides an additional factor in the Sun Devils' favor. ASU is arguably the highest profile school to formally offer Ferguson and it wouldn't surprise us if the atmosphere at Sun Devil Stadium wins him over and ASU becomes the school to beat. A commitment is perhaps less likely than not, even though ASU is the only official Ferguson has planned so far.

Dominique Hamilton: El Paso (Tex.) El Paso Chapin, Defensive tackle, 6-foot-4, 279 pounds. Hamilton tried visiting Nebraska on short notice last weekend but the coaches couldn't make arrangements on such short notice, so this weekend's trip to Tempe will give Hamilton his first taste of an official visit. His trip to Missouri was an unofficial visit. Hamilton has some family in the valley and actually lived in the Surprise (Ariz.) area before moving around because of a military upbringing. Hamilton named Missouri as his leader quite some time ago, but things seem to be narrowing and an official visit is also set up in Boulder, Colorado next weekend to watch the Buffaloes in action. Hamilton's close relationship with ASU defensive line coach Grady Stretz could ultimately be enough to lure Hamilton away from a Big XII North school, but the atmosphere in Tempe this weekend could be the key. If the Sun Devils put on a strong showing this weekend, it could go a long way in convincing Hamilton to stay in the Southwest.

Marcel Jones: Phoenix (Ariz.) Trevor Browne, Offensive tackle, 6-foot-8, 310 pounds. Jones could arguably have as much upside as any offensive line prospect in the state of Arizona. At 6-foot-8, his frame is unbelievable, especially now that he's lost some excess weight. With a little bit of technique work, he could ultimately become one of the top offensive lineman out of the state in years. Aside from ASU, Jones' only other scholarship offer is from Oregon State. This weekend's official visit to the Sun Devil campus will be Jones' first of year, but he said that he would also like to schedule one to Oregon State sometime during the football season. We wouldn't be surprised if the atmosphere from the hometown crowd proves too much to overcome, and there is a possibility Jones could commit on the visit. One possible impediment: Trevor Jones likes to steer its kids out of the Valley for college in order to avoid local distractions and Jones' mother is very interested in seeing her son go to a prominent academic institution, such as Stanford or Cal. Neither program has offered as yet. Because of his size, Jones is also a Division-1 basketball prospect, but we don't expect collegiate basketball in his future.

Derek Knight: Detroit (Mich.) Renaissance, Safety, 6-foot-0, 192 pounds. ASU's persistent recruitment, and Knight's scheduled official visit show strong mutual interest with a player from a region of the country the program rarely has success landing. Getting Knight to take a visit out of Big 10 country shows that he is definitely intrigued with what the Sun Devils have to offer. Head coach Dirk Koetter visited his school personally and that made a big impact on Knight. He also has strong interest in West Virginia and is looking to schedule an official there. Knight witnessed the Sun Devils victory over Colorado in person, as he was there on his first official visit. This could potentially come down to a recruiting battle between West Virginia and ASU. After Saturday, Knight will have seen ASU play twice in three weeks but West Virginia is putting together a tremendous season, and their national championship attention could become a factor.

Nick Wood: Poway (Calif.) Poway, Defensive tackle, 6-foot-2, 272 pounds. Arizona State has a lot of competition in the recruitment with Wood, a prospect that took numerous unofficial visits in the off-season in order to get a better feel for the schools showing him interest. All 17 schools that have offered him have contacted him during the calling period of September. He loved the academic and top-25 tradition during his official visit to Boston College two weeks ago. Wood also has a visit to Colorado scheduled and North Carolina, Wake Forest, and Washington all seem to be getting his attention. No doubt, the Sun Devils are in a dog fight for Wood's services but getting him to Tempe for this official will be a great first step. We expect Wood to take all five of his visits and make a decision close to signing day, but Boston College may be slightly ahead of the pack.

William Yancy: Glendale (Ariz.) Ironwood, Strongside DE, 6-foot-4, 223 pounds. Yancy is one of the top in-state prospects still strongly considering the Sun Devils, so his commitment would go a long way in securing a grasp on hometown talent. He is one of the most polite, well-spoken prospects that we've spoken with. Yancy visited Purdue last weekend and said he had a great time with the players and the coaches. This weekend's trip to ASU will be his last until after his football season is over, which could definitely help both schools' chances of an eventual commitment. Arizona offered a few weeks ago but it could be too little, too late at this point. Yancy's older brother Quincy played for ASU and that has to go a long way in his recruitment. We would not be surprised to see a lot more schools attempt to jump on Yancy's recruiting trail, as he has stated that he is upwards of 6-foot-6, and over 230 pounds now. His combination of size and athleticism would be a welcome addition to virtually any collegiate program. The sooner Yancy commits, the greater the likelihood that it will be to ASU.

Another prospect, Oakland Park (Fla.) Northeast wide receiver Darrian Williams told Rivals.com in an earlier recruiting update that he would likely trip to Arizona State this weekend, but ASUDevils.com has not confirmed that independently. Williams is a 6-foot-1, 183-pounder, and his recruitment by the Sun Devils is largely the result of defensive coordinator Bill Miller's ties to the region.

These visitors will no doubt have a huge impact on ASU's final recruiting class as the Sun Devils head toward signing day. This is a critical game for the Sun Devils and a big victory in front of a large crowd would certainly help ASU's case with all of these prospects, but getting them to visit the campus and soak up the atmosphere is definitely a great step in the right direction regardless of the outcome of the game.

If all the stars align, including a Sun Devil victory, the weather, and a raucous crowd could turn this into one of the biggest recruiting weekend that the Sun Devils have had in a long time. There is also the possibility of one or more surprise visitors and we'll be working to learn more of this possibility as the weekend progresses.

ASUDevils.com will keep you updated on any additional visitors, and updates after the trips are completed this weekend.


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