Recruiting 17 and 18 year-olds to any college football program has always been a difficult and arduous process. Now, in the throws of the internet and social media age, it’s become a process that routinely comes down to the wire on Letter of Intent (LOI) signing day in February.
Twitter and Facebook have become as much of a recruiting tool as campus life, facilities and academic programs tailored to student athletes. As a result, verbal commitments aren’t nearly as binding as they once were. Believe it or not, teenagers can be fickle and have shown a propensity to change their minds on a dime.
Building relationships with high profile players in the class of 2014 has already been in motion for the better part of the last year. Traditional power house programs with heavy local support often secure very early commitments from the top players in the country who happen to be in their respective region. For ASU, that process requires a ton of selling tools outside of its recent performance on the field.
The Sun Devils have been mediocre to average at best over the past decade. Therefore, they are much more reliant on developing relationships with local high school coaching staffs, selling a new brand of disciplined football, upgraded facilities and an optimistic forecast for the 2013 season.
December’s Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl was ASU’s the first bowl appearance since many of the targeted players were in junior high. Add to that a consistency of mediocre to average seasons for several years before Coach Graham arrived. Although it is improving with time, the fact that there are not lot of deep-rooted fans in our young and transient state population poses even more of a challenge.
The result has been an alarming tendency for local high-profile recruits to instead consider traditional powerhouse programs and up-and-coming “flavor of the day” programs. At this point, the attractiveness of staying home to build the ASU program from “home grown” talent is more of a vision than something proven by ASU in recent years. Also, ASU is undoubtedly challenged by negative recruiting by other schools who highlight the nomad reputation of Coach Graham (deserved or not).
As alumni and fans, we have bought into what the Coach Graham’s staff is building and are feverishly in search of another magical Rose Bowl season. However, we have to take into account that the young men that ASU is recruiting were just being born the last time ASU was in a Rose Bowl.
The nature of being a Die Hard Sun Devil can at times induce short-term melt downs on message boards when we learn that a local talent is not seriously considering Tempe as their college destination. With signing day still six months away, the current optimism surrounding Coach Graham and the Sun Devils will have had the chance to materialize on the field.
A nine to ten-win season on top of last years welcomed success would have a profound impact in recruiting. Additionally, the Devils are tabbed by many analysts as Pac-12 South favorites to play in the conference championship.
The first half of the schedule is considered the be the toughest in the nation which provides a lot of national attention. Wins in this stretch will turn the heads of even the most skeptical targeted recruits.
So fear not, Sun Devil Nation. Although the season is right around the corner, signing day is still a ways away, and a ton can happen between now and then. Coach Graham will do his part in having his team ready for these games. Will you do your part? Will you be in Sun Devil Stadium? Will you be at Texas Stadium for Notre Dame? Are you a Die Hard Devil?
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