Much has been made about the Arizona State defense, or lack thereof, since the end of the 2013 season. The team ranked fourth in total defense in the Pac-12, allowing only 372.4 yards per game. They also led the conference with 21 interceptions and an amazing five pick-sixes.
Let’s not forget the two-time Pat Tillman Defensive Player of the Year in Will Sutton and fourth round NFL pick in linebacker Carl Bradford.
The defense will be replacing a near-devastating nine players. The success of Todd Graham’s third campaign will be predicated on the talent and more importantly, the preparation, of the athletes below.
Many of these newest Devils will be expected to step up and strap on their helmet in just eleven weeks.
Here’s a quick reference for the newest members of ASU’s defense.
The speedy defensive back from Coach Todd Graham’s old stomping grounds of Allen High School in north Texas comes from a superstar program. The Allen Eagles were ranked as the No. 2 high school team in the country with a perfect 16-0 record. Adams led Allen to back-to-back Texas 5A Division I State Championships. Adams was ranked by Scout.com as the No. 47 cornerback in the country while 24-7 Sports placed him at No. 68.
The El Cajon, Calif. native comes to Arizona State played two years at Grossmont Community College and will have three years to play two in Tempe. A four-star recruit according to ESPN, Brown is ranked as the No. 3 junior college cornerback in the country and No. 24 overall junior college prospect. Brown will most likely battle redshirt freshman William Earley for the boundary corner position left vacant by Rashad Wadood.
Hailing from the southeast corner of the country, Caldwell hails from Atlanta, Ga., and played at the University of Illinois and junior college ball at Pearl River Community College in Hattiesburg, Miss. The big, bruising linebacker in similar to Carl Bradford in his size, speed and physicality. Caldwell can also play at the defensive end position and was ranked the No. 4 junior college defensive end in the country by ESPN and the No. 26 weak side defensive end prospect in the country.
The monster defensive lineman out of Portland, Ore., had multiple offers including nearly every Pac-12 school, Boise State, Wisconsin and Tennessee. Humphreys led Central Catholic to an undefeated 14-0 record and the Oregon Class 6A State Championship. Ranked as one of the top defensive end prospects in the country, the four-star recruit was rated at No. 8 in his position by Rivals.com. 24-7 Sports also ranks Humphreys as the No. 2 overall prospect in the state of Oregon. The second team All-American from USA Today participated in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
The local boy made good, Murphy-Richardson from Desert Edge High School in Goodyear, Ariz., has it all. He lines up on both sides of the ball at wideout as well as linebacker. The 6-foot-4 linebacker was heavily recruited nationwide with offers from powerhouse programs including Florida, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas A&M. Murphy-Richardson was ranked as high as No. 21 at his position by Rivals.com while Scout.com rated him as the No. 65 overall prospect in the region.
Perry comes to the Valley from Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas, Nev., and can make an immediate impact in the secondary at either the cornerback or safety position. At just under six feet tall, Perry has good size to go along with his blistering speed. Perry received rankings as both a corner (No. 91 by Scout.com) and a safety (No. 101 by 24-7 Sports.) Perry earned All-West Regional honors after his senior season at Bishop Gorman High.
A teammate of Chad Adams at Allen High School, Sam was a defensive leader, earning the Defensive MVP of the 2013 State Championship Game. Everybody knows how big high school football is in Texas and Sam was the defensive star of the best team in the state. The 6-foot-1, 220-pound linebacker will mesh nicely with a veteran corps of linebackers looking to make a big noise. Sam was rated the No. 27 linebacker in the country by Rivals.com and Scout.com ranked him at No. 47.
The quick and nimble defensive back comes to Arizona State all the way from Imhotep Charter High School in Philadelphia, Pa. The name might not sound familiar to most, but it is also the same high school that produced wide receiver Jaelen Strong. The three-way athlete excelled in the secondary but also played offense, scoring four touchdowns in his senior season as well as trying his hand at kicking and punting. Scott was ranked the No. 49 defensive back in the nation by Rivals.com while 24-7 Sports ranked him as the No. 57 safety prospect.
A big-time get for Coach Graham, Smallwood is anything but small. At 6-foot-1 and 292 pounds, the Fresno, Calif., product was heavily recruited by big-time programs like Alabama, Miami (Fla.) and Wisconsin. Smallwood will be an amazing addition to the defensive line along with Jaxon Hood and Marcus Hardison. The four-star recruit was ranked as high as No. 19 at the defensive tackle position by Scout.com and the No. 38 overall prospect in the West region.
Heading back to the junior college ranks, Stuckey also played at Pearl River Community College in Hattiesburg, Miss., with Darrius Caldwell. A huge player with amazing size and strength, tipping the scales at 308 pounds on a 6-foot-3 frame. Stuckey, out of DeFuniak Springs, Fla., originally signed with Florida State out of high school but instead played at Pearl River. Rivals.com named Stuckey the No. 1 junior college defensive tackle prospect in the country and the eight-best overall prospect. Another hot commodity, Stuckey had myriad offers from SEC and ACC schools including Alabama, Florida, Clemson and Miami (Fla.)