Harsin turns in solid first effort

Posted: February 7, 2013 at 6:27 a.m.

— Bryan Harsin arrived in Jonesboro less than two months ago, and at the top of a list of tasks was convincing recruits to head to an area he didn’t know much about without the benefit of a full coaching staff.

Harsin, hired as Gus Malzahn’s replacement after serving two years as co-offensive coordinator at Texas, capped a whirlwind eight weeks by introducing his first ASU recruiting class Wednesday.

A group of 16 high school players signed Wednesday, joining four midyear transfers. Among that group are five defensive backs, a handful ofplayers he plucked out of his familiar recruiting grounds in California and Texas and a junior-college quarterback whowill compete for the starting job this spring.

“They’re all solid, that’s one thing I can say about all these guys,” Harsin said. “It’s a solid group. I thinktheir best football is ahead of them.”

Harsin, 36, admitted Wednesday he didn’t know

Continued from Page 1W exactly what was in store when he was introduced as coach Dec. 12. He had never been a head coach after spending 12 seasons at Boise State and Texas, had never put together a coaching staff, and had never led one school’s recruiting efforts. He certainly had never done all that at the same time.

He made his first staff hires Dec. 21, still had three open assistant spots when ASU beat Kent State in the GoDaddy.com Bowl on Jan. 6 and completed the recruiting process Wednesday still one assistant coach shy of the nine allowed.

When Harsin would hire one coach, he’d give him a quick rundown of who was in the fold, who they were going after and then send them out on the road.

“I would try to get them up to speed: Here’s where we are, here’s our guy, let’s rock and roll,” Harsin said.

Even with the hurried process, Harsin said he felt ASU was able to address needs in the secondary and at quarterback.

Cameron Birse from San Ramon Valley High School in Danville, Calif., and Chandler Rogers, who played last year at Copiah-Lincoln (Miss.) Community College, joined the quarterback fold, which includes five others.

“It’s open season for quarterbacks again,” Harsin said. “They’ve got to compete in a hurry, and you’ve got to get decisions put together throughout spring. You’ve got to make sure you’ve got the right guys in the mix there.”

ASU returns two starting defensive backs and two others who played in all 13 games, but that didn’t stop Harsin from signing five more defensive backs.

“We have good players at the position, but you better start creating depth,” Harsin said.

ASU signed four players from Arkansas, three of whom had committed to Malzahn and the previous staff. Though Harsin said his patchwork staff hit areas where they were more familiar.

All four signees from Texas - defensive backs Jeremy Fulcher and Colin Janice and defensive ends Ja’Von Jones and Chris Odom - weren’t on ASU’s radar until Harsin arrived. The same goes for quarterback Cameron Birse, defensive back Willie Fletcher and defensive end Jabari Mathieu. All of them are from California, an area Harsin recruited heavily while at Boise State.

Sports, Pages 19 on 02/07/2013