National Signing Day is Wednesday, and Arizona State looks to secure a strong class for Todd Graham's second season in Tempe. But even now a few things remain up in the air, less than 24 hours before the faxes start rolling in.
To get some answers to those questions and more general analysis of ASU's expected class, we talked to Brandon Huffman, a national recruiting analyst and West regional manager with Scout.com.
FOXSportsArizona.com: Every ASU fan seems to be wondering right now what will happen with Alpharetta (Ga.) quarterback commitment Joshua Dobbs, who took an official visit to Tennessee recently. What's the sense about what he will end up doing tomorrow?
Brandon Huffman: The prominent feeling right now is that he is going to end up at Tennessee. There was also a lot of talk that N.C. State could be where he ended up, but Tennessee is kind of the conventional thought right now. The other thing there's been talk about is he did get admitted to Stanford? He's a pretty highly touted baseball player as well, so there's been some talk he could end up going Stanford and playing baseball, but it wouldn't be for football. If he doesn't sign on Wednesday, I think you can almost guarantee he's going to try the Stanford baseball route, but right now our Southern folks all expect him to sign with Tennessee. I know last week ASU was putting in the work to try to keep him on board. This late in the game it would be a huge hole for them to get out of.
FSAZ: Is Dobbs the kind of prospect that will make or break ASU's signing class?
Huffman: You could say that mainly because they need him based on their quarterback situation. You have Michael Bercovici redshirting last year -- who knows how long he sticks around for -- Taylor Kelly is going to be a junior next year and Michael Eubank is going to be a redshirt sophomore, so (Dobbs) would give them that young quarterback to add to the mix. And not only is he a young quarterback, he's a really talented quarterback. I don't want to say he makes or breaks the class, but it would definitely be a huge bolster or a huge hit to it whatever he decides to do.
FSAZ: With Dobbs included, Scout currently ranks ASU's class No. 28 in the nation. What do you like about this class and its strength?
Huffman: The thing I like the most is their linebacker class is pretty strong. They got a couple good (junior college) players and then the Latu twins (Viliami and Alani, from Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) are both phenomenal players. And Chans Cox, he'll probably play linebacker there, so there's another one. So their linebacking corps is pretty strong, and they're still in play for (Westlake Village, Calif. linebacker) Cameron Judge. They've also got a number of strong defensive ends. They've done a very good job on defense.
FSAZ: Who's a player in this signing class that will surprise people?
Huffman: I would say Jack Powers (offensive tackle from Palma High School in Salinas, Calif.). We have him ranked as a three-star prospect, but we like him a lot more as a defensive end. That might be a better position for him, but the more we saw, we ended up moving him to offensive tackle. I watched him in the spring and he's a little bit lean, really long -- he definitely has offensive tackle size, but he just needs to add some weight. He's very fundamentally sound, comes from a good program that teaches good technique. But I'd say he's definitely going to redshirt next year.
FSAZ: ASU has nine junior college recruits committed now, which is fourth most nationally. Is this a good thing, a bad thing or to be determined?
Huffman: I don't think ASU needs to do the juco thing more than a couple guys each year. I think there's enough talent in the state of Arizona that ASU doesnt need to make a habit of going that route every year. Having said that, I understand when you inherit recruits from a previous regime and you find out a lot of them don't fit what you want to do defensively or offensively, you kind of need a quick fix. But I would hope that after a second full year, second full recruiting class that Todd Graham would be able to be more aggressive in the high school ranks and not have to rely so heavily on junior college players.
FSAZ: Who sticks out as the catch of the juco group?
Huffman: I remember (San Joaquin Delta tight end) De'Marieya Nelson when he was in high school and thought pretty highly of him. I thought he was a fantastic player. I also know (Contra Costa defensive end) Demetrius Cherry comes from a pretty good program in terms of cranking out juco players.
FSAZ: How is ASU doing in terms of establishing themselves locally and also penetrating recruiting hotbeds like Southern California or Texas?
Huffman: I think they're doing a better job in Southern California than they're doing in their own back yard. If there's a knock against ASU's recruiting class, it's their inability to keep guys home, guys that they did recruit like Tyler Bruggman and Priest Willis.