Tradition in college football is a funny thing. For fans, things like "Jump Around" at Wisconsin games and Ralphie leading the team onto Folsom Field in Colorado are the kind of things that make college football special for them.
Arizona State has one tradition that I'm sure their fans don't get excited about each year. Every signing day they have a tradition of not signing the top recruits from the state of Arizona. Year after year the majority of those players decide to leave the state rather than stay home to play out their college football careers.
This was just reinforced yesterday with 5 star wide receiver Christian Kirk deciding to not commit to enroll early at ASU and instead go to Texas A&M. I know it's recruiting and you win some and you lose some, but the lack of success in-state by the Sun Devils is kind of astonishing. And when you see a tweet like this, it makes it sting just a bit more.
Kyle Allen to Christian Kirk in College Station, TX. The Arizona connection for #Aggies. pic.twitter.com/RwObO9vejw— Mike Farrell (@rivalsmike) December 17, 2014
2015 quarterback commit Brady White certainly is no slouch, but having Kyle Allen throw passes to Kirk over the next three years in the Pac-12 would have been pretty fun to watch. Instead, watching them connect for big plays at A&M is going to be a constant reminder of what might have been.
Including this recruiting class, which won't be made official until February, ASU has struggled mightily over the last ten years to land the top five players within the state. They have brought in only eleven of a possible fifty players during that time and that's a little misleading because Dennis Erickson ended up signing three of the top five back in 2008. If you take that one year out, then it's eight out of a possibly forty five. I don't think I need to break out a calculator to tell you that that's not a very good percentage.
Even the recent success of Todd Graham at ASU hasn't seemed to make a difference with in-state recruits. If this year finishes out as projected, then Graham will only have signed three out of a possibly twenty with his four recruiting classes.
With recruiting, it's a bit of a chicken and egg thing. What came first? Success on the field or success in recruiting? In just about every case, success in one can't come without the other. That's what so frustrating about where Arizona State is at right now as a program.
They are on the cusp of joining the upper tier of the conference on the field and in recruiting, but in order to make that jump they need to sign players like Kirk, Allen, Cole Luke, Priest Willis, Andrus Peat, and Brett Hundley.
Elite programs land the top players from their state. Losing out of Kirk is just a reminder that the Sun Devils haven't quite got to where they want to be yet.