PHOENIX - In college football, if you want to play on New Year's Day or beyond, it's a good idea to win on National Signing Day. Winning in the living room typically translates into winning on the gridiron.
"The winning tradition is No. 1 in my mind," head coach Todd Graham said. "People want to go to places that are winning and how you go about winning is very vital."
On Wednesday, the Arizona State Sun Devils unveiled a 25-player class that includes 15 defensive players and a half-dozen junior college recruits to help bolster a defense that lost nine starters.
Arizona State's 2014 class is rated 17th by Scout.com and 21st by Rivals.com, which also had the Sun Devils ranked third in the Pac-12, behind USC and Stanford.
"There's not a lot of quick fixes when it comes to those things," Graham said about competing nationally. "But we definitely took a major step forward and this class is indicative of that. You can tell that we're competing with the people that we should be competing with for personnel."
Bolstered by a trip to the Pac-12 Championship game and a planned stadium renovation, Graham's third recruiting class in Tempe is headlined by linebacker D.J. Calhoun of El Cerrito High School in California.
Calhoun was the highest-rated player in Arizona State's 2014 class and enrolled in January, which means he will take part in spring drills to give him a head start on making an early impact.
For the first time, Graham signed a couple of quarterbacks. In fact, both Manny Wilkins and Coltin Gerhart could be the successor to Taylor Kelly. Also, Scottsdale Chaparral star Tyler Whiley, named First Team All-State, could have an impact on both sides of the ball, though he may stick to playing receiver.