Right about 10:30 a.m. Marjele's Sports Grill in Chandler, Ariz., saw a mass exodus of people as the National Signing Day event ended.
It was a similar sight for most of the state's top football talent, as most of the highly recruited athletes signed letters of intent to play out of state.
Arizona State and Arizona signed a combined six players from the Grand Canyon State with one of those players cracking the top 50 at their position according to most recruiting analysts.
Those leaving for opportunities around the country are numerous and impressive.
It's led by Hamilton (Chandler, Ariz.) tackle Christian Westerman
, who chose Auburn, Saguaro (Scottsdale, Ariz.) guard Cyrus Hobbi
, who picked USC, and Chandler combo quarterback Brett Hundley
, who is on his way to UCLA.
Other prestigious programs were able to land top Arizona recruits as Nebraska (DL Todd Peat
, Tempe Corona del Sol), Penn State (OL Ryan Nowicki
, Glendale Cactus), Arkansas (S Kelvin Fisher
, Gilbert Higley) and Oregon (OL Tyler Johnstone
, Hamilton and OL Andre Yruretagoyena
, Scottsdale Chaparral) snagged quality players.
It's clearly not a good trend for ASU or Arizona.
"ASU better get in the Rose Bowl," Saguaro coach John Sanders said last week after Hobbi's announcement. "(Arizona) needs to get off to a great start and finish. If you don't (win), kids are going to go away. The other thing is, I think (ASU and U of A) get a little complacent in-state. They kind of count on that the kids want to stay home, so we've got an edge. I don't see that anymore. Kids are willing to go."
Phoenix Mountain Pointe coach Norris Vaughan said the kids who decided to stay in state have a chance become even bigger than those that choose to leave.
"If you go to Nebraska or wherever you can have a great career and it is what it is," Vaughan said. "But if you go to Arizona State, stay home, go o nto have a great career as a local product you become a football God forever."
Fisher made up his mind in October and it was clear he had no problem taking the Razorbacks over the hometown school.
"The main part was academic because they have a great business school," said Fisher, who had Oregon and Washington in his top three. "I gave ASU a chance. I didn't cross them off right off the bat. I just felt like they didn't have a lot to offer me. Nothing against ASU because they are a great program, but I am happy with my decision."
The trend coincides with the fact that Arizona might have the most overall talent that it has ever had and seemingly fewer and fewerathletes are sticking around.
"We had seven (Arizona) kids at the Under Armour game (out of 88), and that has got to tell you that high school football in Arizona is in great shape," Sanders said. "That's the reason places like Nebraska recruit here hard. Bo Pelini's been out at my practice. Notre Dame flew out the other day just to offer (Saguaro junior defensive back) D.J. Foster a scholarship. Those are storied programs. USC, Notre Dame, all those places. They do a good job recruiting, and those are big-time football programs. And it's getting to be the trend."
One of the big unknowns heading into Wednesday's decision day was where Canyon del Oro's Ka'Deem Carey
was going to end up.
The 5-foot-11, 190-pound all-Arizona running back gave a soft verbal to Arizona over the summer, but took a late visit to Arizona State to put the decision in doubt. He ended up staying close to home and chose the Wildcats.
The four-star recruit had academic problems, but is confident he will be ready to go this fall. He ran for more than 4,400 yards and scored 69 touchdowns over the last two seasons.
Joining him from Arizona will be 6-5, 280-pound offensive tackle Jacob Arzouman
of Salpointe Catholic (Tucson, Ariz.) and wide receiver Reggie Gilbert
of Betty H. Fairfax (Laveen, Ariz.).
The Sun Devils managed to keep Perry (Gilbert, Ariz.) offensive lineman Mo Latu
and Moon Valley (Phoenix) offensive lineman Vi Teofilo
along with Mountain Pointe (Phoenix) linebacker Izzy Marshall
"I am not going to name names, but I was disappointed we didn't get more," Marshall said. "The class we bring in will work hard and make sure we represent Arizona the best we can." Jason P. Skoda has been a sports writer in the Phoenix area for the last six years of his 15-year career. He currently works at the Ahwatukee Foothills News after stints with The Arizona Republic, CoachesAid.com Arizona and a turn at freelancing for various newspapers and Web sites around the country. Before landing in Arizona, he also worked in Ohio, California and Texas. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 480-272-2449.