Covering High School Sports in America
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D.J. Foster, Saguaro


Every recruiting period has a different feel.

With Arizona prospects garnering more attention nationally in recent years only to see them leave for out-of-state destinations, the vibe hasn't been good.

So it is no wonder that both Arizona State and Arizona entered the National Signing Day with new coaching staffs trying to stop the parade out of the state.

It might have started in 2012, but, of course, only time will tell.

Yes, the top recruit in the state – Corona del Sol (Tempe, Ariz.) offensive tackle Andrus Peat (No. 8 overall, No. 2 tackle by MaxPreps) – still wiggled away to Stanford, but there were signs of that changing.

Saguaro (Scottsdale, Ariz.) running back D.J. Foster (No. 30 overall) was the key piece to stay home as the record-breaking 6-foot, 185-pounder chose to sign with new coach Todd Graham and Arizona State.

"There was something there, that family and that support, that put it over the top," Foster said.

He is believed to be the highest nationally ranked recruit from Arizona to choose the Sun Devils since former Desert Vista tight end Zach Miller picked them over UCLA, Oklahoma and others in 2004.

Arizona might be able to do something similar if first-year coach Rich Rodriguez can convince Chaparral (Scottsdale, Ariz.) athlete Davonte Neal to stay home as well. The playmaking wide receiver/defensive back is holding off on making his decision and has an official visit to Tucson in the coming days.

The Wildcats signed 24 players – six from Arizona – with one spot being left open for Neal in hopes of topping the likes of Ohio State, Notre Dame, Oklahoma and North Carolina.

Another turn for the good came from Hamilton (Chandler, Ariz.) defensive tackle Jaxon Hood, who originally gave a soft verbal to Boston College but felt all along he was undervalued. So when Graham and Co. came calling he jumped at the chance.

"If you don't believe in yourself, nobody will," Hood told the East Valley Tribune.

While the two programs managed to sign just 10 combined local products as quality players like Centennial (Peoria, Ariz.) strong safety Zach Hoffpauir (Stanford) and Chandler (Ariz.) wide receiver Javon Williams (UCLA) found homes elsewhere, the first go-around with the new coaches was the first step in tightening the borders is in the books.

Year two is already underway with top prospects receiving out-of-state attention.

Top recruits for next season are Centennial (Peoria, Ariz.) defensive end Marcus Farria, Blue Ridge (Lakeside, Ariz.) linebacker Chans Cox, Brophy College Prep (Phoenix) quarterback Tyler Bruggman and Mountain Pointe (Phoenix) lineman Kenneth Lacy.

Farria already has eight offers including both in state schools along with Notre Dame, Arkansas and three other Pac-12 schools (Oregon State, Washington and Colorado). Cox has five offers with Boise State, Duke and Oregon State joining ASU and Arizona.

Arkansas, Purdue and Colorado State along with the in-state schools have offered Bruggman. Lacy can consider Purdue, Washington, San Diego State, Oregon State along with ASU and Arizona as possible destinations.

Jason P. Skoda, a former Arizona Republic and current Ahwatukee Foothill News staff writer, is a 15-year sports writing veteran. Contact him at jskoda1024@aol.com or 480-272-2449.