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What the experts think about Herm Edwards’ first ASU recruiting class

Linebacker Merlin Robertson, with his infant son, announces his intention to play football at Arizona State at a press conference Wednesday, Feb. 7. (Fox Sports screenshot)

The ink is dry on the letters of intent signed by the recruits in Arizona State’s first recruiting class of new head Herm Edwards.

A total of 22 players signed with the Sun Devils — 11 in the early period in December and 11 more Wednesday.

Obviously, recruiting was at the heart of the firing of Todd Graham — athletic director Ray Anderson wants better results on the trail and on the field. The problem is, coaching transitions make recruiting difficult for a first-year head coach.

Yet, by most accounts Edwards and his staff salvaged a decent class for 2018, especially on Wednesday, when they got commitments from two 4-star recruits (based on 247Sports.com rankings) in linebacker Merlin Robertson from Gardena, Calif. and safety Aashari Crosswell from Long Beach. Robertson was ranked as the eighth-best outside backer in the country and Crosswell was the 10th-best safety.

Here’s a quick rundown of what the recruiting services are saying about the first haul of recruits in Edwards’ tenure.

ESPN

National Rank: 47 (9th among Pac-12 schools)

Grade: B-

Herm Edwards’ first class in Tempe features a quartet of talented running backs in one-time UCLA verbal A.J. Carter, Brock Sturges, Demetrious Flowers and darting-quick junior college transfer Isaiah Floyd. Three-star offensive tackle Ralph Frias was a must-sign, as was three-star receiver Stanley Lambert. Help on defense will be heavily influenced by junior college transfers Cassius Peat, ESPN JC 50 cornerback Dominique Harrison and three-star cornerback Terin Adams. Three-star linebacker Reggie Hughes and safety Elyjah Doyle will bring playmaking from Southern California.


247Sports.com

National Rank: 37 (6th among Pac-12 schools)

Brandon Huffman called ASU’s class “surprising.”

Arizona State has spent the past few weeks listening to people mock and deride the decision to hire Herm Edwards. And after having the 12th-rated class in the conference in December, the Sun Devils closed like mad men on Signing Day, landing two Top247 defenders in safety Aashari Crosswell and linebacker Merlin Robertson plus another four-star in defensive lineman Jermayne Lole and then two more high three-stars in offensive lineman Jarrett Bell and receiver Geordon Porter. The Sun Devils jumped seven spots within their conference on Signing Day, all the way to No. 5 in the Pac-12. They began the day No. 78 nationally, worst among Power 5 schools.


Rivals.com

National Ranking: 36 (5th among Pac-12 schools)


Sports Illustrated

SI’s Chris Johnson published a list of winners and losers on signing day, and Edwards landed on his ‘loser’ list, although the reasons weren’t really related to what transpired in the recruiting period.

Arizona State’s decision to fire Todd Graham, pay him $12 million in buyout money and hire Herm Edwards to replace him was met with widespread skepticism. Athletic director Ray Anderson formerly served as Edwards’s agent, and Edwards hadn’t coached in college since the 1980s (as a defensive backs coach at San Jose State) and in the NFL since 2008. The Sun Devils didn’t win over any critics with a bizarre press release describing a “restructured” football model with an “NFL approach,” and did Edwards didn’t help himself by giving off the impression at his introductory press conference that he was not familiar with Arizona State’s mascot. In an appearance on ESPN2’s signing day coverage on Wednesday, Edwards didn’t do anything to assuage doubts about his qualifications as a Power 5 head coach in 2018.

He did eventually get around to mentioning ASU’s class, and it was positive, so this smacks of piling on to pile on, doesn’t it?

On a more positive note, Arizona State did sign two key targets in four-star Junipero Serra (Calif.) High linebacker Merlin Robertson and four-star Long Beach Poly (Calif.) High safety Aashari Crosswell. As of Wednesday evening, the Sun Devils’ recruiting class ranked fifth in the Pac-12 and 36th in the country, according to the 247Sports Composite.

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