Ray Anderson (ASU Vice President for Athletics) talks about ASU’s new club level seating at Sun Devil Stadium on June 23, 2017.
1 of 26
Former ASU coach Frank Kush leaves a lasting memory for Sun Devil fans.
2 of 26
Raul Monreal, 45, Chandler, brings flowers to the statue of Arizona State University Head Coach Frank Kush outside Sun Devil Stadium, Thursday, June 22, 2017. Monreal, from ASU Class of 1995, is a big fan of Kush. Tom Tingle/azcentral.com
3 of 26
Jay Dieffenbach and Dan Bickley give tribute to former ASU football coach Frank Kush and discuss the NBA draft in our Shot Clock video.
4 of 26
A look at each game in the Sun Devils’ 2017 season
5 of 26
Here are 10 Arizona State football players whose performance in 2017 will go a long way toward determining if the Sun Devils will have their first winning season since 2014.
6 of 26
azcentral sports’ Jeff Metcalfe takes a look at some pressing issues for the Sun Devils heading into 2017.
7 of 26
Jay Dieffenbach and Doug Haller discuss: Will it be newcomer Blake Barnett, or will Manny Wilkins hold on to the job? Video: azcentral sports
8 of 26
Jeff Metcalfe takes a closer look at some of the top issues surrounding the Sun Devils football team. Video: azcentral sports
9 of 26
The college football season doesn’t start until the fall but it’s never too early to start looking ahead.
USA TODAY Sports
10 of 26
Wide receivers, including John Humphrey and Ryan Newsome, were the headliners Saturday at the Arizona State football spring game.
Credit: Jeff Metcalfe, David Kadlubowski/Arizona Republic
11 of 26
Offensive highlights from ASU’s spring game on Saturday.
12 of 26
Hyperlapse of ASU’s spring football game.
13 of 26
Here’s what you need to know before you head to ASU’s Spring Game and Fan Fest on Saturday.
14 of 26
Arizona State head football coach Todd Graham talks about his team’s second spring scrimmage on Friday, April 7. Video: Jeff Metcafle/azcentral sports
15 of 26
ASU football coach Todd Graham talks about Demario Richard, Christian Hill and more after spring practice on Wednesday, April 5.
Credit: Jeff Metcalfe, Nick Oza/Arizona Republic
16 of 26
ASU defensive line coach Michael Slater gives instructions to his players at Monday’s workout in Tempe. Video: azcentral sports
17 of 26
Coach Todd Graham says defense came out ahead by limiting big plays during ASU’s first spring scrimmage on Wednesday. Jeff Metcalfe/azcentral sports
18 of 26
Arizona State football completed its sixth spring practice Friday at Sun Devil Stadium with nine practices remaining over the next three weeks. The spring game is April 15.
19 of 26
ASU football coach Todd Graham discusses hiring Danny White and Dave Christensen as consultants. Jeff Metcalfe/azcentral sports
20 of 26
Quarterback Blake Barnett, a transfer from Alabama, is in his first year at Arizona State. He is competing with four returners to be the starting QB.
Credit: Jeff Metcalfe, Rob Schumacher, Nick Oza, Thomas Hawthorne/Arizona Republic
21 of 26
Arizona State head coach Todd Graham discusses the first day of football spring practice on March 14, 2017 at the Kajikawa Practice Facility in Tempe, Ariz. By Rob Schumacher/azcentral sports
22 of 26
ASU football begins sixth season under coach Todd Graham with five new assistant coaches. (Jeff Metcalfe/azcentral sports)
23 of 26
Transfer quarterback Blake Barnett talks about coming to ASU to compete for the starting job on Wednesday. Thomas Hawthorne/azcentral sports
24 of 26
Arizona State offensive coordinator Billy Napier discusses the first day of football spring practice on March 14, 2017 at the Kajikawa Practice Facility in Tempe, Ariz. By Rob Schumacher/azcentral sports
25 of 26
ASU football coach Todd Graham talks about the challenge of hiring “good people” and losing them to other schools entering ASU’s 2017 season on Wednesday. Thomas Hawthorne/azcentral sports
26 of 26
ASU’s West Side Club at Sun Devil Stadium
ASU football legend Frank Kush passes away at 88
Paying homage to ASU legend Frank Kush
Mixed emotions: Kush’s death; draft excitement
Breaking down Arizona State football’s 2017 schedule
ASU football – 10 players to watch in 2017
ASU football: 5 areas of concern
Who will be the starting QB at ASU?
5 observations from ASU spring football
Early preseason top 10 college football teams for 2017
Wide receivers shine in ASU football spring game
ASU shows off some offense in spring game
Sights from ASU football’s spring game
2017 ASU Spring Game & Fan Fest
Todd Graham: ‘The big thing is to get better fundamentally’
ASU coach Graham on Richard, Hill and more
ASU defensive line coach Michael Slater gives instructions at practice
Todd Graham speaks after ASU holds first spring scrimmage
ASU football completes second week of spring practice
Todd Graham on new consultants White, Christensen
ASU QB Blake Barnett on starting spring
Todd Graham on opening of ASU spring practice
ASU football opens spring practice
Transfer QB Blake Barnett on coming to ASU to compete
Billy Napier discusses first day of ASU practice
Todd Graham talks staffing challenges, 2017 season
It’s not strictly true that Arizona State football had no players from California in its 2017 recruiting class.
Quarterback Blake Barnett, after all, made a name for himself at Santiago High in Corona, Calif., even though he came to ASU via transfer from Alabama. Post-signing day, ASU added defensive backs DeMonte King and Kobe Williams from Long Beach City College, defensive back Darien Cornay from Cerritos College and tight end Ceejhay French-Love from East Los Angeles College. Also, defensive back Jalen Russell, originally headed for Navy out of Vista, Calif., now is at ASU as a redshirt freshman.
All played at California high schools before junior college.
MORE COLLEGE FOOTBALL: ASU’s 2018 recruiting class
Still, staff changes including both coordinators before signing day in February hurt ASU with some California prospects, and a revamped recruiting strategy now has all nine Sun Devil assistants recruiting in-state and in California.
Results of the blanket approach already are promising.
Three Southern California high schoolers committed to ASU last week for four total from the state out of six commits in the 2018 recruiting class. On Scout.com, ASU’s average recruit ranking is 3.5 stars, top-15 in the country as of Monday, so location also is paying off in quality so far.
“For me, it was the brotherhood, being one big family plus the educational side,” said linebacker Reggie Hughes of Calabasas, Calif., ASU’s highest rated recruit to date. “For playing time, it was a no-brainer. There’s a spot wide open if you work hard enough to go get it. Talking with my mom and sister and a few close friends, we kept on picking ASU over all the other schools.”
The position Hughes references is Devil backer, where Koron Crump and A.J. Latu are going into their senior seasons. The 6-2 Hughes, with 19 sacks as a junior, seems perfectly suited for the hybrid linebacker/pass rush position once filled by Carl Bradford, now with the Buffalo Bills.
“I looked at it as which place was going to help me get to where I want to be in the future,” Hughes said. “I want to play in the NFL. Sitting on the bench is not going to help you. You want to get out there and play and show your talent.”
There are connections, casual to deep, between Hughes and ASU’s other California commitments — running back Demetrious Flowers of St. John Bosco High School, safety Elyjah Doyle of Bishop Alemany HS and linebacker Christian LaValle of Mission Viejo HS. The largest mileage spread between the four is 199 miles (Mission Hills, north of Santa Barbara, to Mission Viejo in Orange County.
“It’s heating up over here,” Hughes said. “A lot of my friends are talking about ASU and now looking at them.”
Wide receiver/defensive back Nikko Hall, who is a teammate with Hughes at Calabasas, is among ASU’s other California recruiting targets as is defensive back Bryan Addison of Junipero Serra HS in Gardena.
Under a new NCAA rule, high-schoolers now can sign their letter of intent early if they choose. That window is Dec. 20-22, same as for junior college transfers. Those not signing early will do so Feb. 7, 2018.
Doyle was the first of the California players to commit June 3. Then came Hughes on June 19 followed by LaValle and Flowers on the June 20.
“Right now, we’ve started the (California) legacy,” Doyle said. “We’ll start getting more coming to Arizona State and eventually a lot of kids will commit.”
It’s too soon to judge the recruiting impact of ASU’s new football facility at the north end of Sun Devil Stadium. Coaches are moving in this summer – and players after Camp Tontozona in early August.
“It’s everything they told me it was going to be,” Hughes said. “It had some impact on me. I can’t wait to go back and see it when the guys are in there.”
For Flowers, who plans to major in business, academic support was more important than facilities. Hughes wants to study sports medicine. LaValle, who also was considering Army and Navy, already aspires to be an ASU scholar baller while studying kinesiology.
“I thought ASU was my spot every since I stepped on campus the first time,” said LaValle, who committed early to avoid being shut out later. “Every coach on the staff hit home with me. Two losing seasons don’t really bother me as long as I know the coaches. This year we’re going to have a really good season from what I saw at junior day. Our class coming in could do something special.”
California has been a natural recruiting area for ASU, periodically yielding great success. Twenty of the top 50 all-time Sun Devils in a 2013 azcentral sports ranking played at California high schools or were natives of the state. Those include Mike Haynes, David Fulcher, Ron Pritchard, J.D. Hill, Jeff Van Raaphorst, Mike Richardson, Derek Hagan, Pat Tillman, Luis Zendejas, Eric Allen, Shante Carver and Aaron Cox.