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July 25, 2012
Sun Devils develop pipeline to New Orleans
Four-star wide receiver Raheem Falkins showed up at Arizona State's team camp as a solid Alabama commit. That never had a chance of changing. With nothing to be gained by a dominant performance in front of college coaches, he was simply along for the ride.
He worked out and participated in select drills, sure. But the cross-country drive he endured last weekend was mostly about his friends. Some kind of pal, right? After all, being confined to a van for nearly two days is no small favor.
The rest of the Louisiana-based traveling party had more to play for, though. George Washington Carver High School running back Eugene Brazley earned an offer from the Sun Devils' staff by showing the breakaway speed that made him a track star on the prep level.
Following the event, Brazley, a soft commit to Ole Miss, wasn't shy about discussing the possibility of switching his pledge. Apparently, the trip made an impact.
"I'm thinking about it," he said when asked if he planned to break his commitment to Ole Miss, "I really like Arizona State. It's a lot different than where I'm from."
It's hard to know exactly how close Brazley came to de-committing from the Rebels on the spot. While the speedy tailback and his friends were participating in drills, Gerald Mitchell, who helps train the group at New Orleans' famed Sonic Boom Conditioning Academy, made a bold proclamation.
"If they offer (defensive back) Joey (Lewis), they'll both commit right here, right now; him and Eugene," Mitchell said. "They're best friends. They'll both come here if they offer Joey."
It's not as if Sonic Boom's reputation was built without reason. Players such Saints WR Marques Colston, Chargers wide receiver Robert Meechem and Alabama Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram have all trained with the organization at one time or another.
An offer for Porter didn't appear. Not on Sunday, anyway. But the day's link between Tempe and the New Orleans-based training facility didn't end there.
Mardi Gras it was not, but the entire afternoon carried a similar flare. At times, it seemed as though a New Orleans resident was making a play on every snap.
A younger member of the Sonic Boom group also turned heads at the one-day camp. Hunter Dale, a defensive back in the class of 2015, was as consistent as Porter was streaky during seven-on-seven drills. A wasted trip to the desert it was not. Not for Dale.
"They essentially offered him," Mitchell said. "We walked out of the camp, and Hunter had left his phone on one of the training carts. The coaches found his phone and called us back over there. That's when the kid basically got the offer. His dad is the owner of Sonic Boom, so the kid is a child prodigy. He's going to be on the Arizona State speed dial."