ASU head coach Kenny Dillingham ‘not interested in publicity stunt’ recruits

Jul 17, 2023, 8:00 PM | Updated: Jul 18, 2023, 12:01 pm

(Screenshot/Sun Devil Football Twitter)...

(Screenshot/Sun Devil Football Twitter)

(Screenshot/Sun Devil Football Twitter)

TEMPE — The Arizona State Sun Devils have had a massive overhaul of the staff and players from last season, but not without intrigue.

New head coach Kenny Dillingham has been active in the transfer portal, as well as in the class of 2024. They already boast the fourth best class in the Pac-12 for that year, according to 247Sports. The Sun Devils have finished fourth or better in conference recruiting just once since 2017.

Dillingham has been consistent in his message that he is only recruiting players that want to play for Arizona State, and that means leaving Name, Image and Likeness talk at the door when speaking to the high schoolers.

“We are going to recruit kids who want to be here. That is the No. 1 thing about our philosophies,” Dillingham said on Monday.

“There’s no tricks, no gimmicks, no promises. In the world of NIL, there is zero NIL talk. … When we talk and recruit, we ask, ‘Do you want to be here? Do you want to be apart of this? Do you want to be a part of something that could be special? If you do great and if you don’t great.’ There are a lot of athletes out there.”

In today’s college football landscape, disregarding NIL can be a slippery slope when going up against larger schools that have more resources.

For example, current ASU quarterback Jaden Rashada, the No. 27 recruit in the class of 2023, was reportedly in agreement that he was committed to the Florida Gators with agreements to make $13 million in NIL monies. That ultimately fell through and led to his departure from Gainesville and arrival in Tempe.

Despite Dillingham’s philosophy on NIL talk while recruiting, he recognized that it is “75%-80%” of the process.

Since he was hired, Dillingham and the Sun Devils’ motto has been “Activate the Valley,” and that goes well beyond bringing in players from in-state.

“To think [NIL] is not [important] is naïve. I want the players that come here to make the max amount of money they can be paid more than anyone in the country,” Dillingham said.

“I hope that I do such a good job that businesses flock to pay our players more than anyone in the country because we have a Valley behind them. … NIL is essential, but I want to reward our guys that are here. I want someone to get NIL that wants to be here, not getting a kid illegally to entice them. I want the Valley to support the people that choose to be here. I want the city to wrap around this team and use this team.”

ASU’s staff has attacked many three-star recruits, especially in the 2024 class. The Sun Devils currently have 14 three-stars and zero four- or five-star players.

Dillingham mentioned part of that is because rankings do correlate with what schools players sign with. The more “prestigious” football school a player signs with, the higher the ranking.

“If you don’t get lost trying to win recruiting, if you stay focused on your vision and your plan, you can attract the skill players others cannot,” Dillingham said.

“You cannot just flip the switch and say we want this player because he is ranked high. This is not about publicity stunts. There are multiple four-star players that we could have got but we did not think was good enough. I don’t want a publicity stunt, I want players that fit the culture and fit the place.”


Dillingham said he is curious to see how he performs on the field because he has not been on the field calling games since he was a freshman high school coach.

He said that he has been coaching from the booth since he was a varsity high school coach, all the way to being the offensive coordinator at Oregon, but this year he will be on the field.

“How loud it is going to be,” Dillingham joked.

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