Former Chandler Hamilton star and Auburn offensive lineman Christian Westerman's transfer to Arizona State became official Wednesday, Westerman's father said, though it did not come without a fight.
Chris Westerman Sr. said Wednesday that his son's paperwork had been received at ASU, making official a decision he said Christian made about a month ago.
"It's a great thing, I think, for Christian to be back in his home environment," Westerman Sr. said. "And I think it will be great for him to be with a team that's on the rise."
Westerman, a five-star recruit in 2011, came to his parents recently amid a coaching change and ongoing NCAA investigation at Auburn and expressed a desire to return home, having become disillusioned with the Auburn program.
"He came to us and basically said, 'I'm almost to the point where I've lost my passion for football,'" Westerman, Sr., said. "I said to him, 'You know what, I'm not going to let you fizzle out. We're going to get this figured out.'"
Westerman Sr. said new Auburn coach Gus Malzahn "fought pretty hard" to keep Westerman. The family met with Malzahn, who was Auburn's offensive coordinator during Westerman's redshirt year in 2010, and new offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee in Auburn, Ala., recently as the pair tried to convince Westerman to give them a chance to mold him into an NFL prospect.
But Westerman, who started three games this season while battling a high ankle sprain later diagnosed as a stress fracture, had made his decision. He wanted to return home to be close to friends and family while also becoming part of the revival at ASU under Todd Graham. UCLA and Arizona apparently had interest as well.
"It was a combination," Westerman Sr. said. "His heartstrings were telling him, 'I want to be in the town where my friends are, my family, all the people that I know that know me.' It was about familiarity and the people that would rally around him. Back (at Auburn), he was just another kid, another player.
"The other big factor was the fact that under Todd Graham, he's really seen the improvement of the ASU program. The program's really moving in a very positive direction."
Westerman was recruited to ASU by Dennis Erickson's staff, Westerman Sr. said, but only lightly. The family also disliked the loose culture that had developed under Erickson.
With Auburn under investigation by the NCAA for potential recruiting improprieties, the Westermans are hoping Christian might receive a penalty-free transfer to ASU, allowing him to play right away rather than sit out a season as required by NCAA rules.
Westerman Sr. said the family appealed to the NCAA in a letter that expressed their concerns about the investigation at Auburn.