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Wednesday, July 10, 2013
While some complain, 2017 ASU pledge works

By Damon Sayles

Loren Mondy
Loren Mondy, 14, will begin his freshman season at Mansfield (Texas) Lake Ridge this fall. He is already committed to Arizona State.

Whether fairly or unfairly, Loren Mondy (Mansfield, Texas/Lake Ridge) has been thrown into arguably the most taboo discussion in college football recruiting.

Ten days ago, Mondy gave the Arizona State coaching staff his verbal commitment. Not a problem if he’s an incoming senior. Not too much of a big deal for an incoming junior.

Mondy, however, is a 14-year-old defensive end/outside linebacker hybrid who just finished his eighth-grade year at Danny Jones Middle School in Mansfield.

To recruit young or not to recruit young? That is the question.

Mondy officially committed to the Sun Devils on June 30 and is believed to be the youngest commitment in Arizona State football history. While the social media world and the water-cooler gangs argue whether or not he’s too young to make such a grand decision, Mondy is choosing a different path. He’d much rather work than talk.

“It’s their opinions, but I can’t worry about that,” Mondy said. “All I can do is just focus on myself and what I have to do to get better.”

In a recruiting world where more and more 2017s are getting more attention than some 2014s and 2015s, Mondy is taking the high road and letting outsiders discuss his college future. While they do that, he’s on the football field or in the weight room, working overtime hours to become the best football player possible -- regardless of classification.

“He may be a kid,” said Michael Mondy, Loren’s father, “but he gets it.”

At 6-foot-1 and 233 pounds, Mondy physically looks more like an incoming college freshman rather than an incoming high school freshman. He’s wide-chested with broad shoulders. Take away the baby face and he could pass for the average all-state high school defender.

Mondy was spotted putting in work at a recent satellite camp hosted by Sam Houston State with the assistance of Arizona State’s coaching staff. At the camp, he wasn’t viewed as an incoming freshman; he was a football player. Sun Devils head coach Todd Graham quickly noticed.

Following the satellite camp, Mondy was invited to attend a camp on the Arizona State campus, and he made the trip on June 29. The next day, he gave his word to Graham.

“I went home and talked to family; I really thought over it and talked to my dad,” Mondy said. “I committed to [Graham] because he’s a man of his word.”

Graham and Mondy’s father aren’t strangers. Michael Mondy played for Graham in high school and again in college at East Central University in Ada, Okla. Together, they won an NAIA national championship in 1993. It was Graham’s demeanor then that won Michael Mondy over, and Graham was one of the reasons the elder Mondy allowed his son to commit at such a young age.

“Loren was able to talk to [Graham] and meet the other coaches,” Michael Mondy said. “He talked to him in depth; it wasn’t just about football. They talked about turning him into a better person and a better man. He expects everything from you on the football and off the field.”

Loren Mondy added: “Coach is a man of his word. It doesn’t take much to stay committed to that program. I know a lot of the coaches. I talked to the linebackers coach [Dan Lanning] and told him I wanted to commit to their program. He told me to get in touch with Coach. As long as he’s there, I’m going to go there, no matter what.”

Getting an offer put Mondy in an elite fraternity. He joined the likes of Dylan Moses, Nathan Tilford and Lindell Stone -- fellow 2017s, and friends of his, who have BCS offers. Moses has nine offers, the latest coming from Auburn on Monday. Tilford has a USC offer and Stone has a UCLA offer. Mondy additionally has early interest from Mississippi State and Ole Miss, his father said.

The debate about committing super early won’t be a hot topic in the Mondy household. The family is aware that the decision is a lightning rod for discussion for those around it. All Mondy wants to do, however, is play football.

He hopes as his highlight tape fills more with top plays against older competitors, the chatter of the critics will continue to die down.

“Everything is always revolving, and football is always changing, for better or for worse,” Michael Mondy said. “These kids, in my mind, they’re becoming more mature in many ways. Their bodies and minds being able to handle this sport is getting better and better. Nowadays, they can really get in and hang with the big boys.

“I don’t think [coaches] are silly for offering early. They’re doing their homework on these guys; that’s why you only see a handful of them. They see a lot of potential in Loren. You’re not going to make that decision without thinking it through.”

To which Loren replied: “I have a good motor, and I’m very explosive off the line. I got a long way to go, but I’ll be a great person to everybody there and a great leader for the team.”