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story.lead_photo.caption ASU wide reciever Justin McInnis talks to reporters during Arkansas State Media Day at the ASU Football Complex in Joneboro Thursday, August 2, 2018. - Photo by Mitchell PE Masilun

JONESBORO -- This is Arkansas State University's in-season week to recruit.

With the NCAA's official recruiting contact period open until mid-December, ASU's focus turns to potential recruits while it awaits a bowl announcement Sunday.

"We're trying to hang on to the commits that we've got. We're trying to close off positions," ASU Coach Blake Anderson said. "Probably the biggest factor right now is offensive tackle. Still trying to close that out."

The coaching staff hit the road Sunday. Coach Blake Anderson joined them Monday afternoon, hoping to lock in ASU's oral commitments and boost specific positions of need: offensive tackle, wide receiver, safety, linebacker and defensive end.

"Those are the ones that we're trying to finish out," Anderson said Monday. "And we've got a handful of guys that are verbally committed openly out on social media and in the public. We're hanging onto those with everything we've got because they're all being recruited by other places."

Of ASU's 11 commitments per Rivals.com, one is an offensive tackle (Ivory Scott, Pearl River Community College in Mississippi).

ASU started three first-year linemen in 2018, including redshirt freshman guard Andre Harris, senior guard Marvis Brown and junior right tackle Nour-Eddine Seidnaly. Other newbies also were mixed in once Seidnaly suffered a an injury Nov. 10.

The Red Wolves will lose starting senior left tackle Lanard Bonner, a 2017 member of the Sun Belt's all-conference first team, and Brown.

ASU has secured oral commitments from two defensive ends, two defensive backs, two versatile high school tailbacks committed as athletes and a running back, quarterback, linebacker, wide receiver and offensive tackle, per Rivals.com.

Building depth is a priority for ASU's 2019 recruiting class. The Red Wolves had 30 first-year players take their first Division I snaps in 2018, Anderson said. Seventeen freshmen and eight walk-ons were also used on an injury-plagued 72-man roster.

The Red Wolves had 19 players taken off their 2018 roster because of injuries, Anderson said. ASU was limited to a two-deep depth chart at certain positions, and injuries forced other players to abandon their most comfortable position to fill holes elsewhere.

Thrusting inexperienced players into action was the story of ASU's 8-4 season.

"The thing that keeps coming back to me is injuries and inexperience," Anderson said. "Talent-wise, we talked at the beginning of the season, we've got some of the best talent we've ever had. We just lacked depth. We lacked experience.

"When the injuries hit, it showed. It just got us into moments we couldn't overcome."

McInnis earns honor

Senior wide receiver Justin McInnis was named the Sun Belt Conference's special teams player of the week Monday.

McInnis, ASU's second-leading receiver with 694 yards and five touchdowns, recorded the Red Wolves' first blocked punt of the season in ASU's 33-7 victory Saturday at Texas State. He scooped it up and returned it for a 17-yard touchdown.

McInnis' score was ASU's first blocked punt return for a touchdown since Dec. 17, 2016, against the University of Central Florida in the Cure Bowl. The touchdown gave the Red Wolves a 21-7 lead with 8:47 left in Saturday's third quarter.

Scheduled rest

The Red Wolves have time to heal and study.

ASU will spend the days leading up to its bowl site announcement by running and lifting weights. Practices this week will be minimal as ASU's coaching staff is out recruiting until Sunday, when the school also will find out its bowl destination.

ASU will take final exams Dec. 5-11.

"Just try to freshen their bodies up," Anderson said. "Keep their legs going. Keep their lungs going. And let them spend some time on their academics."

Photo by AP/BUTCH DILL
Arkansas State head Coach Blake Anderson is recruiting while he and the Red Wolves await word of who they will meet in a bowl game. Anderson said filling needs at offensive tackle, wide receiver, safety, linebacker and defensive end are priorities.

Sports on 11/27/2018

Print Headline: Wolves focus on recruiting

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