Arizona State football opens spring training with newcomers and questions

Arizona State head football coach Herm Edwards admits there may have been a sense of complacency last year on his veteran team. It had a lot of athletes who had played a lot of football, so at the end of the season there wasn’t quite the energy that comes with having unproven players just yearning for a chance. .

He preached competition but the starters were the starters.

He feels a different energy, now entering his fifth season at the helm. The Sun Devils opened spring football training at the Kajikawa training grounds on Tuesday with 26 new faces, the majority of those coming through the transfer gate, changing the landscape of college athletics. A team doesn’t have to rely on high school prospects who can take a few years to prepare for a starting spot.

Now a team can reload quickly. And that will be key for ASU, which lost 15 quality starters and reserves from a team that went 8-5 and settled for a second-place finish in the Pac-12 South behind Utah.

“For the first day the new players were training, trying to figure out which way to go, especially in attack, it was quite competitive,” Edwards said. “They had a lot of energy, which was good. It’s pretty fun to watch all the new guys.”

Tuesday was the first official day of spring training, but the players have been working out in the weight room under strength and conditioning coach Joe Connolly for the past two months.

But Edwards said it was not unusual for him to look out his office window on a Saturday morning to see a large group of players performing their own loosely organized drills without any supervision from position coaches or support staff. .

He thinks it’s a good sign.

“I see these guys training on Saturdays, there wasn’t a Saturday where the guys weren’t training alone on the grass,” he said. “It’s interesting. No coach there, they’ve been doing it for the last month and a half. A bunch of guys get together and they do drills and I just watch. No coach tells them to do it, they’ I do it alone, it’s good for them.”

Edwards said having so many veterans last season may have backfired, not blaming anyone in particular, but saying the mindset was a little different.

“The COVID year was interesting. It brought a lot of players back. It’s a bit of football for a college player and you just got this seasoned veteran. And everything he did when he was in second or first year, he does it like a fifth or sixth year senior, and he’s, ‘Why are we doing this?’ You’re like, ‘We’ve always done this,'” Edwards said.

Xazavian Valladay (RB) runs a drill during ASU Spring Football Training March 15, 2022 at the Kajikawa Training Grounds in Tempe, Arizona.

“So it’s a juggling act that you have to deal with. It’s like an NFL veteran that you know has a year left. It’s like OK, you treat them all fairly, you can’t treat them all the same. That’s life. We’ve had a lot of guys come back and play a lot of college football.”

Now he has a mix of athletes looking to earn some serious playing time, many of them for the first time at the college level.

“The transfer guys were somewhere else, come here, they’re excited about this opportunity,” Edwards said. “Then you have younger guys who were sitting behind the older guys, they should have played but those guys came back, so now they have an opportunity. So that’s where the excitement is.”

Most notable is the competition at quarterback with five players in the hunt as heir to three-year-old starter Jayden Daniels who traded to LSU. On Tuesday, it was Daniels’ backup, junior Trenton Bourguet, who took reps with the first team.

Most expect Paul Tyson, a transfer from Alabama who played behind Bryce Young, to be the leading candidate for the top vacancy.

“You have to see who is going to manage the attack. One key is not turning the ball over. And that was a bit of our Achilles heel last year. We have to fix that,” Edwards said, in this he’s looking for in his starter.

Emmit Bohle (OL) during ASU Spring Football Training March 15, 2022 at the Kajikawa Training Grounds, Tempe, Arizona.

Edwards cuts the noise

In his first media session this spring, Edwards was asked about being the head coach when five assistants who worked under him quit or were fired following the NCAA investigation. on recruiting violations during a “dead” period.

“I don’t listen to the noise. It’s about spring football. It’s about the players who are here and the coaches who are here and that’s where it’s going. All these other things, I don’t not comment on them,” Edwards said. . “At the moment there is competition in many positions and they are excited. We are focused on competition and trying to win positions. The coaches train and just come back to the grass.”

First look at the line

One of the biggest focuses in spring training will be the offensive line, which is losing three starters – center Dohnovan West, left tackle Kellen Diesch and right guard Henry Hattis. West and Diesch are draft prospects and both recently competed in the NFL combine.

The team’s first lineup on Tuesday featured Queen Creek product Isaia Glass at left tackle, LaDarius Henderson at left guard, Ben Scott at center, Spencer Lovell at right guard and Des Holmes at right tackle.

Scott was the starter last year at right tackle while Henderson was at left guard. Lovell got three starts last season at right guard in place of the injured Hattis. Glass saw backup duty while Holmes is a transfer from Penn State. San Diego State transfer Chris Martinez is also in the mix at one of the tackle positions.

Tips

• A few former players were present on the first day of the opening exercises. Running back Rachaad White and defensive end Tyler Johnson, who both played in Pro Day on Monday, attended practice games. White has remained in Phoenix and is training here in preparation for next month’s draft.

• Shannon Forman, who ended his eligibility with the Sun Devils last season, remains to work as a coach, helping defensive line coach Robert Rodriguez.

• Two of the transfers have yet to join the squad. They are wide receiver Tarik Luckett (Colorado) and defensive lineman Jail Rivera-Harvey (East Los Angeles Community College). Kicker Carter Brown, from Dawson High School in Texas, hasn’t arrived yet either.

• Offensive lineman Joey Ramos, a transfer from Iowa State who is in the portal, watched practice today, among other things. He is a local product of Deer Valley High School.

Contact the reporter at [email protected] or 602 444-4783. Follow her on Twitter @MGardnerSports.

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