The already daunting rebuilding process for new Arizona State head coach Todd Graham just became all the more difficult as DevilsDigest.com tweeted a report that starting quarterback Brock Osweiler will forgo his senior season and enter the NFL Draft.
This caps a period of speculation surrounding Osweiler's future that began with Graham's hiring and intensified when former offensive coordinator and Osweiler mentor Noel Mazzone left for UCLA. While there appeared to be some appeal to a reunion in Westwood, the complications with the transfer were immense, leaving a move to the NFL as the most enticing option.
Osweiler started 15 games in his Sun Devil career, his first coming during his freshman season at Oregon. He backed-up Steven Threet for most of 2010 before having a breakout game against UCLA in relief of the injured Threet. Osweiler accounted for five total touchdowns in the ASU win, and shook off a bad start the next week against Arizona to help lead the Devils to the thrilling win.
He started every game for Arizona State in 2011 and set several single-season school records in the process. In Mazzone's pass-heavy offense, Osweiler now holds the records for completions (326), attempts (516), completion percentage (63.2%) and yards (4,036). Yet he faltered down the stretch, mirroring the decline of the entire team. He tossed five interceptions over the last three games, and during the team's five-game skid, his accuracy, reads and pocket presence all took a noticeable decline.
Nevertheless, the progress he made as a junior elevated Osweiler considerably in the eyes of many, and the expectations were sky-high for 2012. At 6'8" and 240-pounds, Osweiler has a powerful arm and has shown great pocket awareness and mobility, drawing favorable comparisons to Pittsburgh Steeler Pro Bowler Ben Roethlisberger. He received perhaps his highest praise for his leadership ability.
Osweiler's decision is the latest occurrence in perhaps the most tumultuous time in Sun Devil football history. A season ending four-game losing streak necessitated the firing of head coach Dennis Erickson, and the resulting search was a disaster that ended with key assistants lost and the surprising hiring of Graham. A blowout loss in the Maaco bowl to Boise State was preceded by suspensions to Jamal Miles and Junior Onyeali, and most recently, Onyeali was suspended indefinitely by Graham.
The starting quarterback job now figures to be a battle between Mike Bercovici, Taylor Kelly and Michael Eubank. Despite redshirting last season as a true freshman, Eubank may be the favorite to win the job. While the head coach at Pitt, Graham coveted Eubank, a four-star prospect and ranked by Rivals as the eighth best quarterback in the nation. At 6'5", 235-pounds, Eubank has tremendous tools in the Cam Newton mold.
Regardless of who takes over, the prognosis for Sun Devil success is far weaker now that the program has lost Osweiler.
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