TEMPE, Ariz. -- It was love at first sight.
“Ever since I made my first visit up there, after seeing everything from the academic side and the school in general, as well as the city of Tempe, I fell in love with it,” said Brady White.
Arizona State is now hoping that it’s the beginning of a happy relationship between the program and one of the nation’s top quarterback recruits.
White made that fateful visit to ASU this past April, and immediately became one of the favorites to land the consensus 4-star prospect. With over 15 offers on the table, including a pair from fellow finalists Oregon and Cal, White had no shortage of quality options. But none could overtake the Sun Devils.
“It was my No. 1 school after that visit, and it stayed up there throughout the rest of the recruiting process,” White said of ASU. “The other programs, I was still considering them, but ultimately, my heart was at ASU.”
One of the primary reasons for the decision was the program's focus on what a player does outside of football.
“I love what they are doing there. They have great things going on," White said. "Coach Graham is taking care of business. He’s doing a great job with the recruits and his players, and making sure his players are not just great on the field, but making sure they are great students and great people in the community.”
White is currently ranked as a consensus top 10 prospect among the nation’s 2015 pro-style quarterbacks by the four major recruiting services. He is listed by Rivals as the nation’s No. 3 pro-style quarterback prospect, while 247 has him fourth, ESPN sixth and Scout has him ninth. Should he ultimately sign with ASU in February, he would represent the program’s highest-rated quarterback recruit since recruiting rankings began in the early 2000s.
Like many top quarterback recruits, White made his verbal commitment early in the process. Once he felt that he had found a home, he didn't waste any time.
“There were a couple of other big name guys that had already committed,” said White. “I didn’t feel any pressure to make a commitment early. If I had any questions, I probably would have strung it out a little bit more and maybe made another visit. I felt like all my questions were answered, and I was ready to go public with it. It was a very exciting day when I committed.”
ASU fans still remember the failed courtship between the Sun Devils and another highly-rated quarterback, Josh Dobbs. Dobbs committed to ASU in June of 2012, but then flipped to Tennessee on National Signing Day the following February, leaving the Sun Devils without a quarterback in the class.
Is there a chance of ASU being left at the altar again? None, says White.
“I’m 100 percent committed to the Sun Devils and won’t be taking any more college visits,” he said on the latest Speak of the Devils show. White has already participated in a series of prestigious camps, including the Rivals 100 and Elite 11, and was invited to the Elite 11 Finals and The Opening. “The only other trips I’ll be making are those camps. No more college visits for me.”
After not taking a quarterback in the 2012 and 2013 classes, ASU restocked the position this past recruiting cycle by taking both Manny Wilkins and Coltin Gerhart, and secured a 2015 verbal commitment from Bryce Perkins in early April. Having that stable of quality prospects ahead of him did nothing to deter White from choosing the Sun Devils.
“Anywhere you go, you’re going to have to compete,” White said. “ASU does have a good quarterback lineup. They do have Bryce Perkins and Manny Wilkins and Coltin Gerhart. It’s going to be fun to go out and compete. We’re all going to be buddies and friends. Once we get onto that field, we are all going to be competing for the spot. That’s what you live for if you are playing football."
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California has long been one of ASU’s top recruiting hotbeds, but while there has been no shortage of quality players making the trek to Arizona, the program has struggled to land the top-level, elite players from the state. In White’s eyes, he may join Wilkins as among the group of players that helps reverse that trend.
“I think everyone is realizing how great of a program it is,” said White. “Coach Graham and his staff have only been there two years, but they’ve already won a Pac-12 South championship. That just speaks to all recruits, not just the ones in California and Arizona. I think everyone is realizing that ASU is a powerhouse program in the Pac-12.”
Beyond just committing, White is doing all he can to speed up the process.
Following his commitment last summer, Wilkins earned significant attention due to his own tireless recruiting efforts aiming to bring other top players with him to ASU. Whether it was over social media, at camps, or via text messaging, Wilkins became once of ASU's top—and unofficial—recruiters. One year later, White is following the same path.
“Now I’m a Sun Devil and trying to get as many other guys as I can to be a part of the Sun Devil family,” said White. “I’m trying to reach out to the guys that are interested in ASU. I’m not just shoving it down their throats, but I’m trying to get to know them as well. I’m definitely throwing the recruiting pitch in there.
“I’m just trying to get as many recruits as I can with me, because I want to build this 2015 class.”
One of the targets atop his personal wish list is his current top target at Hart High School, 4-star wide receiver prospect Trent Irwin.
“As for Trent, he’s with me every day. I get to mess around with him,” White said. “At the end of the day, I really want him to come, but I’ll support him with whatever decision he makes. He has to do what is best for him, but it would be a dream come true to play at the next level with each other.”
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So what is ASU expecting to bring into the fold next year?
A little bit of everything, if you ask him.
“I think with me, you’re going to get a guy who will bust his butt, day in and day out, on and off the field,” he said. “I’m not only a great athlete, but I get it done in the classroom as well. I have a 4.0 (GPA). I’m definitely always going to be competing, working hard to get myself better as well as my teammates.
“I’m not the 6-foot-4, 200 (pound) guy, but I feel that I have a great deal of arm strength. I’m a great leader and can command the huddle and rally the guys around me. I feel that I have a great mental side as well as my physical ability that can make any throw out there. I feel that I have a great mental edge over other quarterbacks and the defense. For Sun Devil fans out there, I feel like they can expect a lot of excitement out of me, a guy who is very emotional about the game, and a guy who is passionate about what I do.”
Most importantly, White believes he can get it done any way he has to.
“I make plays. I make smart plays, but I also take chances,” White said. “Go for the home run ball or escape the pocket and make something happen.”
Last season at Hart, the 6-foot-2, 186-pound White completed over 63 percent of his passes for 4,535 yards with 41 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. While also ran for 320 yards and nine more scores.
Scouts have praised his poise, decision making, and his playmaking ability while in the pocket, and while not the running threat of current starter Taylor Kelly, White does have the mobility to evade the pass rush and extend plays.
He also runs an offense that is in many ways similar to the system currently used by ASU offensive coordinator Mike Norvell.
“I love it. I love Coach Norvell and what he’s doing,” said White of the Sun Devil scheme. “That offense fits me perfectly. When I visited there, I was in the quarterback meetings and got to hear the terminology they use and got to go watch the scrimmage. After that, I got to sit down and talk about the offense, and by then, I had started to pick it up and get a sense of what they do. I believe that once I’m up there and really learning, I’ll have it down pretty quickly and be a great fit in it.”
When he does arrive, he will have some time to acclimate to the college game. Or maybe not.
Kelly returns for his third and final season as the team's starter this year, and current No. 2 quarterback Mike Bercovici will be odds on the favorite to start in 2015 during his final year of eligibility. White, along with Wilkins, Gerhart, and possibly Perkins could find themselves in the mix then or wait their turn for 2016.
If there is one certainty in college football, it's perpetual uncertainty. Nothing is assured, but White firmly believes that his new home's best days are ahead.
"There is a lot of great stuff at ASU. I don’t think there is anything you can’t like. It’s an amazing place on the rise.”