PITTSBURGH PA - JANUARY 11: The new University of Pittsburgh head football coach Todd Graham speaks to the media during a press conference at the University of Pittsburgh Panthers South Side training facility on January 11 2011 in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
It's tough to get a feel for the recruiting style of the journeyman Todd Graham.
Arizona State made the surprising move to hire Todd Graham. Now it's time for Graham to get out and recruit.
He'll be tasked with holding together a rather large recruiting class for Arizona State. But even if he fails to do so, it won't be a huge blow to the program because the class simply isn't that good. Depending on what recruiting service you prefer, the Sun Devils have between 21 and 24 solid commitments. 247 Sports currently gives Arizona State 24 "hard" commitments; only three of which are rated as three-stars or better. Rivals is even less kind, crediting the Sun Devils with 21 commitments and only a single three-star. They actually place Arizona State's class seventh in the Pac-12, behind the rival Arizona Arizona Wildcats, who have only 12 commitments.
SB Nation's House Of Sparky, however, sees a lot of hope with this class:
Graham's first task will be to retain ASU's strong 2012 recruiting class. According to ESPN, ASU has the 24th best incoming class in the nation for 2012. The class at present includes 22 total commits, the most in the Pac-12. The Sun Devils have netted six four-star prospects (including ESPN 150 prospect T.J. Millwead) and nine three-star prospects.
With news that wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator Steve Broussard is heading to UCLA, the 2012 class could take a huge hit. Broussard played a big role in bringing together this class, and if he leaves, there's no reason to think that his recruits won't follow him off. That is, unless Graham gives them reason not to.
Fair or not, this coaching search has reflected very poorly on the ability of the football program, which is the type of thing that scares away high school athletes and causes them to de-commit. If Graham can breathe some life back into ASU football, he could retain some of ASU's 2012 recruits.
The talent pool in the state is relatively thin relative to Arizona's population, and the battle between the Sun Devils and Wildcats for the top prospects that don't flee the state will be fierce.
Further intensifying the recruiting battles will be the need for a very similar type of player. Both Graham and Arizona's new coach, Rich Rodriguez, run spread offenses. Both will be looking for a similar type of player at many positions.
And it's unlikely they'll be able to fill those needs with in-state kids. According to Rivals, the state produced fewer than 20 recruits rated three stars or better. Split between two BCS programs and out-of-state poachers, that's not a recipe for sustained success.
Tough to know what kind of recruiter Graham really is, because he's only had one year of experience at a BCS program. It is worth noting that he was putting together a nice recruiting class at Pitt. How much of that was a result of the scandal at Penn State is up for speculation.
If either coach is to have success on the field, he'll need to dominate the other in recruiting the state. An even split of the talent dictates continued mediocrity for both programs. Graham has never been in a position where he had a realistic shot to dominate in-state recruiting. Whether he can do it is still to be seen.
And remember, Rich Rodriguez has a head start of almost a month over Graham, because Arizona went out and made its hire immediately.
Even if Graham does own the state, Arizona State's coach will still need to look west, to California, and east, to Texas, where the talent is much better and more plentiful.
It's too early to know which prospects will stick with the Sun Devils, but one such prospect already being targeted by the opposition of guard Evan Goodman.
Of Lakeland, Florida, Goodman is a four-star and is considered one of the better offensive linemen in the country. On Arizona State's side is that Goodman's brother is a Sun Devil. Working against Sun Devils is that his brother can't really give Evan any insights as to the type of coach Graham is. And, of course, distance may be a factor. Florida State and other regional powers are attempting to woo Goodman away from his commitment.
For more on Arizona State recruiting, visit House of Sparky.