ASU DC Gonzales: Three freshmen standing out early on defense
When asked whether it’s too early to mention by name any freshmen making an early impression through the first two days of practices, Arizona State defensive coordinator Danny Gonzales didn’t hesitate for even a split-second before answering.
“There’s three that are standing out pretty significantly the first two days: Aashari Crosswell, Merlin Robertson and Stanley Lambert. Now, they’ve got to learn what to do, but athletically they’re good enough to play.”
Two of the names are no surprise to anyone who follows ASU recruiting, the third may be.
Robertson, a 6-foot-3, 256-pound linebacker out of Serra High school in Gardena, Calif., and Crosswell, a 6-foot-0, 193-pound safety from Long Beach Poly High School in Long Beach, Calif., were the top two ranked overall recruits in ASU’s 2018 signing class by 247Sports.com. They were both also ranked among the top 10 prospects nationally at their respective positions.
The third player, Lambert, stands out literally in addition to figuratively. At 6-foot-4, 217 pounds, the linebacker from Marshall High School in San Antonio, Texas, is the Sun Devils’ tallest player overall on defense among those who don’t play with a hand in the ground.
While Lambert wasn’t among ASU’s highest ranked signees — outside of the top 100 recruits in Texas — in the class by 247Sports, Sun Devil Source evaluations completed months ago listed Robertson, Crosswell and Lambert as the top three defensive recruits in the class, and three of the top five overall. A big-framed athlete who played all over the field in high school, Lambert looks like an NFL-styled outside linebacker prospect who will carry a lot more weight.
When ASU head coach Herm Edwards said in the spring he thought several newcomers could impact the depth chart upon arrival, he was likely including Crosswell and Robertson in that group. Both players have taken some second-team reps already through two days of practices, with Crosswell working at Ranger safety and Robertson lining up at outside linebacker. Lambert hasn’t taken second-team reps as yet, but Gonzales’ comments following Saturday’s practice suggest that could happen at some point this month.
A strong early impression from this trio of players is particularly good news for the Sun Devils because coaches acknowledged in the spring that their position groups needed an infusion of talent. The Ranger safety positions and linebacker spots were especially ripe for newcomers to be able to impact the depth chart upon arrival.
The physical readiness of Robertson, Crosswell and Lambert represents a theme of the defensive 2018 class. Others, including linebacker Darien Butler at 5-foot-11, 242 pounds, and Jermayne Lole, at 6-foot-2, 264 pounds, also look as though they’re capable of playing early if they are able to demonstrate the skill required to do so.
This story appears on ArizonaSports.com courtesy of a partnership with SunDevilSource.com, part of 247 Sports and home for the most detailed information on Arizona State football.