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Rams win 25 new players for 2013 season

Football coaches focus on upcoming season with new players

By Stephen Cogan
On February 15, 2013

22 of the players are straight out of high school, and three of the players are transfers from other colleges.

Head Coach Will Wagner announced the signings at the Junell Center on Friday, Feb. 8, and said he was pleased with this signing class.

Signing day is like free agency for colleges and universities with players committing to play football.

Instead of lucrative contracts with salaries, scholarships are offered to students as incentives.

Wagner said ASU landed several talented players - not just one player that wowed everyone.

"I feel really good about all of them," Wagner said. "They were all top recruits at those spots and we're very fortunate to get them. Right now, I don't say there is one player that wows."

One recruit, offensive lineman Andre Gillette, comes from Odessa Permian High School, which is the same alma mater as Coach Wagner.

"A lot of coaches give me a hard time about that," Wagner said with a smile. "I just tell them that's where all the athletes are. We were very fortunate to get Andre."

ASU mainly focused on recruiting in Texas; only three of the 25 players came from outside of Texas.

Many of the players will not gain a lot of playing time immediately as they do not have enough experience, but one player is sure to be have  a great chance to earn a starting job.

Since the Rams' previous kicker, Jarred Martin, has graduated, Wagner said he expects for new kicker Rhett Peterson to compete to be the Rams' kicker for the 2013 season.

"Rhett's got a great range," Wagner said. "He gets the kickoffs in the end zone or close to it nearly every time and as for field goal range; anything under 40 he's going to be money."

The Rams' main focus was on defensive backs and eight of them were signed to the team.
Wagner, who played defensive back before coaching, said that was a position where they wanted to add depth.

Five of the players are offensive linemen, and will be under the direct coaching of offensive line coach Jay Eilers.

"All five of our offensive linemen are required to pull on different schemes," Eilers said. "We want to find the offensive linemen that have good feet, that are very athletic, but we don't want to shorten ourselves in that area. We want to find the players that are long bodies and have the potential to get to 285-290 pounds. We don't feel like we need to have the immediate 300 pound guy, and I think we did a good job in finding those athletes."

The entire staff at ASU participates in the recruiting process and ASU has a good reputation.
"Our whole staff just does a phenomenal job at that," Eilers said. "We know and understand that this is a people's business. We have great people at every position from the coaches to the president of the university."

Even the current players get involved with the recruiting process.

"When they come to us, they will spend a night at a hotel," Eilers said. "We'll put them with one of our current players and that gives both the recruit and the player an idea of how it is going to work here."

The player then accompanies the potential recruit on tours of the facilities, the campus, etc and Eilers said he encourages the recruits to ask the players questions about ASU.

"I always tell the recruits to ask our players questions about what they want to know," Eilers said.

ASU tries to create an atmosphere that appeals to the players and it can be compared to selling real estate.

"It's kind of like buying a house," Eilers said. "You can go into a house one day and as soon as you know that's where you want to live and raise your family; it's that kind of feeling that they have to have to know that this is the right place for them."

Now that recruiting is over, Wagner said who will redshirt and who will play this season will depend on how players do in fall practice.

Wagner said he doesn't want to tell a player that they are redshirting immediately, but rather have them compete for the job and then decide who starts and who doesn't.

Wagner said the strategy is to see who are the best players and not let anyone slack off if they have the knowledge that they'll be on the bench.

As for the recruits, they must have had that kind of feeling that Eilers was talking about.

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