As a senior at Chandler Hamilton in 2010, Christian Westerman was the prize jewel of the Valley. Regarded by Rivals and a slew of other outlets as the top prospect in Arizona for his class, the offensive lineman had prominent college coaches fawning at his every move.
But from the sound of his former high school and soon-to-be Arizona State teammate, Westerman wasn't above taking a younger player under his wing, even with dozens of BCS offers arriving in the mail.
After moving from Texas to Chandler before his junior high school season, ASU defensive lineman Jaxon Hood made friends with the big man on campus, then a senior, spending time with Westerman each day before class.
"He was probably my closest friend my junior year," Jaxon said. "He drove me to school every day, he was great."
Now two years later, the Hamilton duo will be reunited again on the field in the spring when Westerman begins classes in Tempe after transferring from Auburn. Sources close to Westerman and ASU told ASUDevils.com Wednesday that he signed non-binding scholarship paperwork with the program.
The former four-star prospect will likely have to sit out the 2013 season, but Hood thinks his friend will be more than productive with the time.
"He's the hardest working guy I've ever known, I've gotten a lot of my work ethic on the field and in the weight room from Christian," Hood said. "He's a straight work horse. Whatever you tell him to do, he's going to do it perfectly. It's just how he's wired."
Ready for cut blocks
Running the triple-option until it is blue in the face; Navy has had a history of annoying opponents with its cut blocking schemes. Since the service academies generally don't get the same size up front as the major conferences do, they instead use cut blocks to allow their undersized lineman to compete in their misdirection running attack.
The exceedingly rare approach Navy uses is even more effective when facing a line with a considerable height advantage. But that's where ASU may be able to counter the Midshipmen's plan.
For a BCS-level team, the Sun Devils don't possess the same size up front defensively most other schools do. The line tops out with the tallest couple players, Hood and Will Sutton, standing around 6-foot-1.
"Most of us are shorter dudes anyways, so if we play with our hands, we'll be fine," Hood said. "It's all about pad level, you have to stay low."
Hood added that while most football players, himself included, see cut blocking as a nuisance, the Midshipmen execute it to a tee.
"You might look at it as cheap but it's what they do and they are good at it," he said. "You have to make sure you fire your hands out there at the snap. In high school I played against some cut blocking teams but not like Navy. They are probably the best cutters around college football but I think we'll be fine."
Running the ball a stunning 806 times this season, Navy ranked first in the nation in yards per game on the ground with 369.
"It's nice when you know what's coming," Hood said. "It's pretty one dimensional what they do, so if you stop that, you're in good shape."