- William Wilkerson, RecruitingNation
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Dodge City (Kan.) Community College defensive end Marcus Hardison, the No. 5 player in the ESPN Junior College 100, has committed to Arizona State.
Hardison chose the Sun Devils over Kansas State, West Virginia, Washington, South Florida and Auburn.
"They have been the top team since Day One," Hardison said. "They were the team to beat. But, at the same time, I took my time just to make sure that Arizona State was the school for me.
"The coaches are great. They have a plan for me. The education is great. Their graduation rate with minorities is very high. I can go get a degree. I have high hopes. I feel like I fit the scheme of the defense and coaches have been real with me since Day One."
Many of the teams put the full-court press on the 6-foot-4, 275-pound edge rusher this week before his decision, but Arizona State had been the long-time favorite. Kansas State's Bill Snyder stopped by early Wednesday morning. West Virginia's Dana Holgorsen was on campus Tuesday. Texas Tech and Arizona State have also stopped by this week, but it was K-State that made Hardison's final decision a tough one.
"To be honest, before I went on the K-State visit I was sold on Arizona State," he said. "Then I went on the visit to KSU and it ruined everything because I had a great time at KSU. It was awesome. At one point K-State was leading. But in the end my opportunities are better at ASU. I like everything about K-State, and I wish them well."
Hardison, who went to Port Charlotte High School in Punta Gorda, Fla., hopes to help ASU improve on a run defense that finished 10th in the Pac-12 in 2012 at 182.8 rushing yards per game.
"They are going to move me around," Hardison said. "Right now, when I went on the visit, they told me that I will be a field side end. But I am going to be moving around the field all the time."
Hardison should be a nice fit alongside several experienced ends that were key in helping the Sun Devils finish second in the conference in total defense (250.8 yards per game). They include Davon Coleman (66 tackles, 11 tackles-for-loss) and Junior Onyeali (17 tackles, 8 tackles-for-loss).
Hardison became the 25th known commitment for the Sun Devils and the eighth junior-college pledge. He's the third defensive end commitment to go along with four-star Garrett Marino (Mission Viejo, Calif./Mission Viejo), the No. 31 defensive end overall, and Kisima Jagne (Chandler, Ariz./Chandler).
He also had offers from Arkansas, Arkansas State, Baylor, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana Tech, Memphis, Minnesota, Mississippi State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, Southern Miss, TCU, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Toledo and Western Kentucky.