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Herm Edwards has a plan to develop ASU’s young players

Arizona State football coach Herm Edwards talks during an interview with The Doug & Wolf Show on 98.7 FM Arizona's Sports Station on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018. (Matt Layman/Arizona Sports)
LISTEN: Herm Edwards, ASU Football Head Coach

Herm Edwards wants competition to breed internally inside Arizona State’s football program.

Not handing out roles to undeserving players is an easy way to go about it. A stronger way to promote competition: Players will have to earn the right simply to dress for a game.

“We had a little team meeting today and I think it shocked a lot of guys,” Edwards said Tuesday while visiting Doug & Wolf’s Newsmakers Week on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.

“We probably won’t have 100 guys dressing anymore. They’re going to compete. I don’t care if you’re on scholarship, you got to compete because in the real world if you’re not a pro football player and you leave this university — and even if you’re a pro football player — you have to compete every day. If you’re going to have a competitive team, the competition is within. I always thought that way.”

But in that, Edwards faces a challenge developing young players that aren’t yet ready to contribute.

So the former NFL head coach said he plans to implement a special practice on Sundays following games.

“On Sunday, the guys that do not play, that do not play the game, they play 30 plays,” Edwards said. “And all the guys that play and have dressed are going to stand on the sideline, they’re going to cheer them on, the coaches are going to coach them and they’re going to play.

“You have to develop these freshmen kids. That’s the pro system,” he added. “That’s the model I grew up in. When you’re the practice player, all you do is practice the other team’s plays. You’re the card guy. Not anymore. You’re going to learn our offense and our defense.”

REVEALING THE RECRUITING PROCESS

ASU’s 22-man recruiting class that ranked 36th in the nation, according to 247 Sports, revealed the school’s geographic strategy.

Thirteen of the players come from California, but Edwards also said the Sun Devils will focus on Arizona and Nevada.

In his first class, five players hail from Texas, while one each come from Arizona, Louisiana and Colorado. ASU also landed Stanford transfer Casey Tucker, who is originally from Arizona.

“A quarterback, there’s a nationwide search for quarterbacks,” Edwards said. “But other than that you can just deal with those three states and really 90 percent of your team could be those athletes and I think you would fare pretty good.”

Edwards, who was hired after nearly a decade working for ESPN, takes some issue when his recruiting background is criticized.

As defensive backs coach for San Jose State from 1987-89, he recruited high school players. The next two years, he was a college scout for the Kansas City Chiefs before he got into coaching.

He is bringing those lessons into his head coaching tenure at ASU.

“The recruiting part that is so in-depth now. It’s like professional football, to be quite honest,” Edwards said. “Like I said, we’re already in the 2019, 2020 (recruiting classes) — well that’s pro football. Pro football as a scout, you go in there, well here’s the senior class, but I’m looking at the juniors and the sophomores.

Edwards said his staff’s evaluation process is also similar to the pro model he learned from, where positional experts review players.

Only in the college ranks, those players are recruited by coaches based in geographical zones.

“When we view a player, the whole staff is in there viewing a player — every coach,” Edwards said of how his staff dissects recruits. “Let’s just say you’re the running backs coach and there’s a wide receiver in your (geographical) area. Well, the expertise of the wide receiver coach stands up and says, ‘Well, this is the traits I like about this guy.’ So you learn as a running back coach what we’re looking for in a wide receivers.”

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