02/05 - ASU football program playing waiting game - East Valley Tribune: Sports

02/05 - ASU football program playing waiting game

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Posted: Tuesday, February 4, 2003 11:59 pm | Updated: 1:57 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

You may find Arizona State football coach Dirk Koetter staring at his office fax machine at 7 a.m. today.

It'll be 8 a.m. in Texas and Koetter will be waiting to see if Parade All-American offensive lineman Ofa Mohetau of Euless had decided to continue his football career in Tempe.

Mohetau isn't the only player who has Koetter on pins and needles.

Largely because of the pedigree of the players the ASU coach is pursuing, there's more uncertainty about the makeup of his third class.

"We have more guys undecided on signing day than any class I've been involved in," Koetter said Tuesday afternoon. "That's a reflection of the guys we're waiting on."

While there's been a trend towards early commitments, many star players still don't decide until late January or signing day.

"These guys take all (five of) their trips," Koetter said. "So it's not until late January until they're done."

The Sun Devils have 16 reported oral commitments and four players who've already enrolled: junior college transfers Justin Burks (linebacker) and Gabe Reininger (defensive linemen), along with 2002 signees DeAndre Johnson (linebacker) and Aaron Austin, both of whom failed to qualify academically for last year.

It was reported by PacWestFootball.com Tuesday that wide receiver Ruben Jackson will be unable to sign with ASU because of academic reasons.

Koetter said he's unsure how many new Sun Devils he'll announce on the first day players can sign binding national letters of intent.

"It depends on what happens today," he said.

Koetter and his staff went into their third recruiting campaign with a better understanding and feel for what it takes to win a Pac-10 Conference championship.

"We learned about our team, the guys we have, where you need immediate help, where you need depth," he said. "For the majority of the staff having two years under your belt coaching in the Pac-10 we have a pretty good idea of what kind of player it takes to win the Pac-10, what kind of player it takes to get it done on the field and at the school.

"We've learned so much of the highs and lows, what are the best things we have to sell, what are the pitfalls that kept us from being successful. We try not to repeat those same mistakes."

On the recruiting trails, Koetter learned many prospects saw the team play well against sixth-ranked Kansas State in the Holiday Bowl.

"It seemed like everybody we talked to watched it," he said. "We were fortunate both the Holiday Bowl and the game before that (against Arizona) were both national (TV) games. The lasting impression with us was positive as we moved into recruiting."

ASU went looking for linebackers to replace departed seniors Mason Unck, Solomon Bates and Josh Amobi.

The Devils also had a need a tight end to succeed Mike Pinkard.

The secondary is also due for an upgrade.

Koetter said he's been concentrating on recruiting so much that he hasn't thought ahead to spring practice. But he noted there could be one "significant" position change involving a starter and two other possible moves.

"It all depends on what happens (today)," he said.

The no-contact "quiet" period has all college coaches, not just Koetter, anxious to hear the whiz of the fax machines bringing the news of the latest batch of recruits.

"We've done all we can do," Koetter said. "We did a good job of recruiting. Some guys just have hard decisions to make. I'm real excited about the class we will be announcing."

EXTRA POINTS: Koetter said ASU has appealed for medical redshirts for defensive back Lamar Baker, linebacker Ishmael Thrower, a 2002 junior college transfer, and defensive tackle Ali Likio. Additionally, quarterback Andy Goodenough, who has since transferred, will also try to get back his junior season after playing in the season opener as a medical redshirt.

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