Christian Westerman, the No. 1 ranked recruit in Arizona's 2011 class, plans to transfer to Arizona State from Auburn according to multiple sources close to the development including Westerman's former coach at Hamilton High School, Steve Belles.
"He is a phenomenal player," Belles said. "He was a starter at Auburn. The only thing that slowed him down this year was a few injuries here and there. Depending on what happens there at Auburn he could maybe be eligible right away or he could have to sit out a year. Either way I think ASU is getting a heck of player. The only question is are they getting him for three years or two.
As of Thursday morning, Arizona State had not yet received a scholarship release from Auburn and is unable to have direct contact with Westerman or his family until that happens. But Westerman has asked the school's recently hired head coach Gus Malzahn -- who was offensive coordinator for ASU head coach Todd Graham at Tulsa in 2007-08 -- for the release and such requests are generally granted almost without exception following coaching changes.
Belles has been in regular contact with Westerman's family and has direct knowledge of his plan to enroll at ASU once he has received the scholarship release from Auburn.
Westerman, 6-foot-4 and 298 pounds, was the No. 27 overall prospect and No. 3 offensive tackle in his recruiting class. He played in just two games at Auburn as a redshirt freshman in 2012, slowed by an ankle injury.
Auburn is under NCAA investigation for potential recruiting improprieties. If sanctions are levied, there is a possibility Westerman will be able to play immediately. If not, he would likely have to sit out a season before taking the field again as a junior in 2014.
"I can assure you of this, it will come as no surprise to me if he is in that starting lineup once he becomes eligible to play," Belles said.
Westerman was named first-team All-USA by USA Today as a senior at Hamilton, and chose Auburn over scholarship offers from some of the nation's top football institutions including Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Miami, Michigan, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Texas and USC.
Belles won three consecutive state titles with Westerman anchoring the right side of his offensive line. He clearly thinks the Sun Devils would be getting a very good player in Westerman, who is capable of playing tackle or guard at this level.
"I think (Christian) wanted to be at home," Belles said. "I think when it was all said and done the luster for what he had at Auburn was right here for him at home with ASU. Now, every kid is a little different. I am sure that some things did not end up like he had wanted. I think he just wanted to come home to where his family and friends were and he wanted to some more familiar surroundings and ASU was the right fit for him."
Belles acknowledged that the addition of Westerman could help ASU on and off the field as coach Graham tries to rebuild its image with location recruits. It was learned first by ASUDevils.com earlier in the week that Kisima Jagne, the state's No. 9 prospect in the 2012 class, would enroll at ASU for the spring semester after signing with, but never matriculating to Colorado.
"Well ASU brought [former Hamilton star] Jaxon Hood in last year," Belles said. "Now they are bringing back one of the top players in the state from two years ago. I think that makes ASU look good in the eyes of a lot of people in and around the Valley.
"I think it's a big score for ASU."