Thoughts from National Signing Day:
As anyone who reads this column knows, I’m not a fan of the never-ending media coverage of recruiting. Who committed, who de-committed, who can’t commit so he’ll be single the rest of his life.
Please. Enough already.
But I have come around to appreciating the signing day tableau of recruits pulling a hat from underneath the table to announce what school they’ll attend. Why not? These kids, from a top football recruit like Scottsdale Saguaro safety K.J. Jarrell to Nikki Hoey, the Tempe Corona del Sol soccer player who’s headed to Western Oregon, work long and hard for that moment. They deserve the accomplishment and the celebration.
Now, the kid who announced his intentions in a skydiving video? That’s a bit much for me.
Sun Devil haul
Arizona State landed nine in-state recruits, although it lost out on the two biggest prizes, both of whom went to USC: Phoenix North Canyon tackle Austin Jackson and Phoenix Mountain Pointe safety Isaiah Pola-Mao. Still, it was an impressive get by Sun Devils coach Todd Graham.
“I’ve only been here five years, and it (Arizona’s talent level) has steadily gotten better every year,” Graham said. “A lot of people are coming in here to recruit. But it’s a different day and time for ASU. With the commitment our program has made, look what has happened with our facilities, when you can offer them everything, somebody outside here can it’s a pretty obvious deal to stay here.”
Well, there is the matter of winning a conference championship and sniffing the College Football Playoff. But that’s a topic for another day. For now, Graham has gotten the attention of Arizona’s top players.
“We think we should start here first,” he said. “The further away I get from this place, the more mistakes I can make.”
RELATED: National Signing Day 2017 updates
One local recruit who didn’t get as much attention as some others on Wednesday was Gilbert Highland’s Tyler Johnson, who committed to ASU last December. But Graham raved about Johnson’s athletic ability, comparing him to Charles Clay, whom he coached at Tulsa. Clay is now a tight end with the Buffalo Bills.
Johnson likely will play defensive end for the Sun Devils.
“Guys that can rush the passer, there’s a lot of teaching to it, but it’s a gift and he has that gift,” Graham said. “He’s a special athlete.”
No go on I-10
Meanwhile, University of Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez was complaining that he couldn’t get in-state recruits to even come to Tucson on a visit.
I’m not sure what that means given the similar paths Arizona and ASU have been on the past three years, but one thing is certain: Until Rodriguez starts getting a look from the state’s top players, his program will continue to struggle.
SNAPSHOTS: From National Signing Day 2017
The three best players I saw this past season were Jackson, Pola-Mao and Chandler running back T.J. Green, who signed with Utah. It’s easier for a running back to make an immediate contribution, but I’ll be surprised if Pola-Mao and Jackson aren’t high up on the depth chart for USC this fall.
I was disheartened, once again, to see adults attacking kids on social media for their school choice. What makes people want to ruin such a special moment? So an 18-year-old kid chose the school down the road instead of your school. So what?
It’s his life. His decision. What right do you have to weigh in?
Some people really need to get a life. And a conscience.