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Arizona football: Snubbed by ASU, center Steven Gurrola eager for Devils

Steven Gurrola had once hoped to be wearing an ASU uniform. Photo by Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Steven Gurrola had once hoped to be wearing an ASU uniform. Photo by Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

If you can’t play for the Sun Devils, beat them.

Arizona Wildcats junior center Steven Gurrola was born and raised in Phoenix and says “everybody I know is a Sun Devil fan.”

He went to Phoenix Washington High School. He attended Glendale Community College. He waited for Arizona State to offer a scholarship.

Never happened.

“I wanted to stay in Phoenix,” he said. “So if they didn’t want to recruit me …”

Well, Arizona did. Coach Rich Rodriguez and staff recruited and signed Gurrola, who has stepped in for departed Kyle Quinn this season and started every game at center. Gurrola played his best game last week against Oregon, RichRod said, and Gurrola agreed with that assessment.

Just in time to face Arizona State and All-American defensive tackle Will Sutton on Saturday at Sun Devil Stadium.

“All my family and friends are going to be there,” Gurrola said. “I play hard all the time, but it’s going to be a little more passionate. I’m going back home and everybody is going to see me play.”

While there was no in-state recruiting battle over Gurrola, there have been plenty of tussles over other key players on both sides, including Arizona All-America running back Ka’Deem Carey, who said this week that he was just a “young, crazy Ka’Deem” when he was considering signing with ASU in February 2011.

Rodriguez says Arizona battles Arizona State for out-of-state recruits less than most would think, and he says the actual result of the head-to-head meeting won’t mean much. Recruits just don’t pick a school solely because Team A beat Team B.

“I’ve never had that said in 28 years of college coaching,” Rodriguez said.”They look at the program as a whole. What’s the direction of the program? How do they fit in?”

Beyond Gurrola, here are 10 key in-state players for Arizona heading into Saturday night’s Territorial Cup matchup:

1. RB Ka’Deem Carey (Canyon del Oro)
2. LB Jake Fischer (Ironwood Ridge)
3. DT Tevin Hood (Chandler Hamilton)
4. OG Chris Putton (Glendale Cactus)
5. LB Marquis Flowers (Phoenix Millennium)
6. S Jared Tevis (CDO)
7. WR Nate Phillips (Chandler Basha)
8. P Drew Riggleman (Tucson Sahuaro)
9. S Jourdon Grandon (Avondale Westview)
10. DE Reggie Gilbert (Laveen Fairfax)

And here are five key in-state recruits from ASU:

1. RB/WR D.J. Foster (Scottsdale Saguaro)
2. NG Jaxon Hood (Chandler Hamilton)
3. C Kody Koebensky (Scottsdale Saguaro)
4. DL Gannon Conway (Higley/Mesa C.C.)
5. RG Vi Teofilo (Phoenix Moon Valley)

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