The Arizona State Sun Devils had been looking for some time to add a linebacker to their 2014 recruiting class and were finally able to do so on Thursday with the pledge of Allen (Texas) linebacker Christian Sam, who announced his decision via Twitter:
The decision was a bit of a surprise, as all but one of the 13 Crystal Ball predictions had him joining a talented Baylor linebacker group, with the other having him pegged to Texas Tech. Oklahoma was also thought to be in the mix for Sam, who had close to 20 offers, including those from Oklahoma State and Oregon State. Of course, maybe it shouldn't have been such a surprise considering that Sun Devil head coach Todd Graham was the head man at Allen from 1995-2000 before he had his first college coaching gig.
A consensus three-star prospect, Sam is a 6'1, 2012-pounder ranked as the No. 44 outside linebacker nationally and the No. 61 player in Texas by the 247Sports composite rankings.
At times a defensive end for state champion Allen, Sam will have to make the transition to playing space at the college level, but he was extremely effective with his hand on the ground as a junior, recording 11 sacks. His explosiveness in his first several steps often made it hard for opposing tackles to get their hands on him, as he used his hands and ability to run the arc to turn the corner consistently.
The positive news for his projectability is that he did also play some standing up as the end man on the line of scrimmage, where he showed his ability to take on and shed blockers, as well as open up and run to beat a running back to the edge. As an unblocked player on the backside of plays, he showed himself capable of disrupting opposing running games by tracking down the ballcarrier from behind.
With good overall speed and reactive quickness, Sam should be able to cover ground in college from his outside linebacker position, but he will likely need to add some mass to hold up at the point of attack at the next level, though he does well enough there in high school to project favorably.
Sam is now the eighth pledge in the class for the Wildcats, which ranked No. 66 in the country prior to his commitment.
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