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Arizona State signs 26 in 2014 football recruiting class

LISTEN: Todd Graham, ASU head football coach

Fax machines were buzzing all over the country, including inside the football offices at Arizona State University.

Head coach Todd Graham welcomed a 26-member recruiting class Wednesday, which was National Letter of Intent Day around college football.

“It was a great day,” Graham told Burns and Gambo on Arizona Sports now on 98.7 FM. “I’m really proud of our staff and our players, who were very, very involved in this process.

“The key is evaluating and getting the right guys, I think this is the best recruting class in the internet era and that’s all well and good, but we know we’ve got our needs met in terms of the character, the discipline and the toughness it takes to play here at Arizona State.”

Highlighting this year’s class is the fact that 14 of the 26 players who signed with ASU are designated as four-star recruits by at least one of the major recruiting news services. Twelve are ranked within the nation’s top 30 players at their position.

There are also recruits flocking to Tempe from 11 different states, which Graham believes is a testament to what he and his staff are building at ASU.

“We’ve got a national brand and the success we had being Pac-12 South champions and winning 18 games in the last two years,” Graham said. “Not only that, but what we do. (We have) one of the most explosive defenses in the country and one of the most explosive offenses.

“We signed one of the top players out of Colorado, the top player out of Oregon, some of the top players in Texas — we did that all around the country.”

ASU was only able to sign three recruits from the state of Arizona — Higley offensive lineman Quinn Bailey, Goodyear Desert Edge linebacker Ismael Murphy-Richardson and Scottsdale Chaparral wide receiver Tyler Whiley. The third-year head coach wants to improve in this area.

“We want to be a lot better than that,” Graham said. “I think we’re going to be. We’re laying the foundation to do that. You see guys locally like D.J. Foster and Jaxon Hood, and the success they’re having. Guys like Chans Cox here in the future and the fact that we’ve had four freshman All-Americans, and two of them have been right here from the Valley.”

In addition to the high school prospects, Graham signed five of ESPN Recruiting Nation’s top 25 JC recruits in the country.

“I don’t look at junior college as a bad thing. We signed ten the first year, nine last year and this year, in a normal year, we’ll sign four to six,” Graham said.

Also different in this year’s class was the inclusion of not one, but two quarterbacks. Manny Wilkins, 6-2 signal caller from Novato, Calif. and Coltin Gerhart, a tough 6-foot product of Murrieta, Calif. The pair become the first quarterbacks to commit to ASU during Graham’s tenure.

“Manny’s a guy that has tremendous athleticism and great leadership ability,” he said. “I love the toughness of Colin Gerhart, I’m looking forward to seeing those guys compete.”

The Arizona State class grew by one more Thursday, as Kalen Ballage, a four-star athlete from Falcon High in Peyton, Colo., made good on a verbal commitment made in December and signed with ASU.

Ballage had several offers and also took official visits to Colorado, Washington and UCLA.