Kenny Dillingham: Change coming to ASU football with 2024, 2025 recruiting classes

Dec 23, 2022, 10:10 AM | Updated: 11:02 am
(Screenshot/Sun Devil Football Twitter)...
(Screenshot/Sun Devil Football Twitter)
(Screenshot/Sun Devil Football Twitter)

Kenny Dillingham has been through a whirlwind in his first month as head coach of Arizona State.

Since taking over for former interim Shaun Aguano and replacing head coach Herm Edwards on Nov. 27, Dillingham and his staff have been working feverishly both on the recruiting trail and in the transfer portal.

And if there’s one thing the new regime at ASU has made abundantly clear, it’s that Dillingham’s version of the Sun Devils is going to feature local flavor.

There are two ways teams get new players in the modern college football landscape: high school and junior college commits, and the transfer portal.

While the transfer portal for players already at a four-year university is open from Dec. 5 to Jan. 18, the early signing day window for high school athletes is only open Dec. 21-23. JUCO players have until Jan. 15.

ASU signed 15 high school and junior college commits thus far and has 16 incoming transfers — half of the latter are Valley products.

The transfer portal is where Dillingham and Co. made the most noise, which should be expected given the lack of time the coaching staff has had to recruit high school kids.

“I think in the state we definitely showed kids that we cared,” Dillingham said Thursday. “We weren’t gonna change the relationships the kids had over the past two years, we knew that.

“But the goal was to build a relationship necessary for those kids to know we did care and it was changing here in the 2024 class and the 2025 class. We’ve definitely already done an event for some of the kids here to start to get them excited and get them knowing that this is gonna be a priority.”

Fourteen of the 15 in the 2023 recruiting class are three-star prospects, and two are natives. Without any four- or five-star commits, ASU’s class ranked 65th in the country and 11th in the Pac-12, ahead of only California.

Still, it was an improvement over a year ago, when Edwards’ staff put together the 103rd-ranked class.

The biggest name to land at Arizona State thus far is former Notre Dame quarterback Drew Pyne, who announced his transfer on Monday. He was a four-star prospect coming out of high school in 2020 and last season threw for 2,021 yards, 22 touchdowns and six interceptions.

Former Chandler High School and BYU quarterback Jacob Conover, Texas edge Prince Dorbah and former Washington State outside linebacker Travion Brown also headline ASU’s incoming transfers.

“The biggest thing that I think from our class this year is we signed a bunch of transfers and kids from the state,” Dillingham said.

“It was about 50/50 of transfers from this state and transfers not from the state, which is about the balance. We want to be able to create a team that has a lot of local flavor, but that also attracts people nationally.”

Dillingham explained that recruiting is a group effort among the staff, it’s not solely on the head coach.

Instead, it’s the relationships that each coach had built with prospective athletes prior to joining Dillingham’s staff that convinced some — not all — to join their respective recruiter on his way to Arizona State.

Or at least take a visit.

“And then combine that with this place (Sun Devil Stadium) when you show up here and it’s 62 degrees in December,” Dillingham said. “You look outside, you see a mountain, you see a sunset, you see all this stuff and you’re like, ‘Holy cow, I thought I was gonna come out to Arizona and there’s gonna be a dirt road with a horse and a cowboy on it.’

“And they’re like, ‘Holy cow. There’s no dirt road. There’s no horse. And there’s no cowboy.’ This is completely different than what most people’s perception of what this place is, so I think it’s just a testament to our coaches having a relationship with enough people to bring them here to show them what we have to offer.”

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