Arizona State might not yet be finished with the 2011 recruiting class but it hasn't stopped the school's coaches from also focusing on the next cycle. The Sun Devils picked up their first 2012 commitment Monday when Upland, Calif., wide receiver Kenny Lawler informed coach Dennis Erickson of his decision.
"I just committed to ASU," Lawler said. "I talked to the head coach. He's a good coach, won two national championships at Miami and he's been coaching all these great receivers like Chad Johnson, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, so I wanted to play for him."
Lawler hasn't visited the Tempe campus yet but plays to in the near future, and he's spent a lot of time following the Sun Devils in the last year.
"I set up a date to go there during the spring, on my spring break and I'm also going to go there for Junior Day," Lawler said. "I've watched ASU play a lot. The team is good. What I've noticed is the type of offense they run and the spread offense and I like it. It's a good offense for receivers.
"Coach (Steve) Broussard, the wide receivers coach is the one who offered me. A lot of their receivers are leaving and they think I can help lead them to a Rose Bowl when I'm there."
ASU was Lawler's first offer, but he was reportedly receiving significant interest from a number of schools across the west and specifically in the Pac-12 at the time of his decision, including Arizona, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford and UCLA.
Lawler, a 6-foot-3, 180 pound receiver, had 42 catches for 887 yards and nine touchdowns last season as a junior at Upland High School.
"I was the top receiver on the team," Lawler said, when asked about his statistics. "I met my goal as a junior but my senior year I just plan on breaking records. The record right now to beat is 86 receptions, and 1,600 receiving yards in one season, so my plan is to break that next season. I think I can do it because we're running a different offense next year. We're running a spread and last year we ran a pro (style)."
Lawler said that his long and rangy playing style is similar to former Georgia Bulldogs receiver A.J. Green, widely expected to be a first-round selection in the 2011 NFL Draft.
Lawler's father, Kenny Lawler Sr., played at Oregon in the late 1970s and is currently the defensive coordinator at San Bernardino College. He previously was the head coach at Pasadena College and was on the staff at Boise State.
"Kenny is aware of the success coach Erickson has had with receivers," Lawler Sr. said. "He wants to follow in some of those guys' footsteps and so as long as Dennis Erickson is going to be at Arizona State next year, that's where he'll be going."
Lawler is the first commitment in the 2012 class for the Sun Devils and the earliest commitment the school has had in a recruiting cycle in the Erickson era.