ASU Football: First spring practice reveals early look at possible depth chart

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona State ran through its first team drills of the spring on Tuesday and some players have an early advantage at snagging a starting role in the fall.

With new recruits set to arrive in the summer and many returning players still nursing lingering injuries, the Arizona State spring practice squad is a shell of what the full team will look like this fall.

Tuesday marked the start of the Sun Devils' 15-practice spring ball schedule and that allowed Todd Graham and his staff to perform preliminary evaluations of Arizona State's depth moving forward.

The Sun Devils performed a variety of team drills, and that gave us an opportunity to determine where each player stands on a way-too-early depth chart.

House of Sparky will update the "two-deep" depth throughout the spring and provide updates as players move up, down, and around the chart. By the end of the spring, we should have a fairly solid idea of where the Sun Devils' position battles will stand heading into fall camp.

Based off of Tuesday's team drills, here is the information we gathered on each side of the ball.

Offensive Depth Chart

Returning Starters in Italics

Quarterback Running Back Tight End
Taylor Kelly D.J. Foster De'Marieya Nelson
Mike Bercovici Deantre Lewis Grant Martinez

Notes: Kelly, Foster and Nelson are shoe-ins to win the starting jobs at their positions this fall. Foster started in the slot last season, but he made the transition to running back when Marion Grice was injured late in the season and proved he had the durability to be an every-down back. Deantre Lewis split second team reps with Kyle Middlebrooks, and both players will likely figure into the team's plans this season, especially considering both can catch the ball well out of the backfield.

The Sun Devils are thin at tight end, and Grant Martinez will need to add bulk to his frame if the Sun Devils want to consider running their '12' personnel. Offensive coordinator Mike Norvell described the '12' personnel as a two-tight end set, and the Sun Devils used Chris Coyle and Nelson in that set together last year.

Wide Receiver (X) Wide Receiver (Y) Wide Receiver (Z)
Jaelen Strong Gary Chambers Fred Gammage
Ellis Jefferson Cameron Smith Daniel Groebner

Notes: Of all the positional charts to disregard in the spring, this one is the easiest. The Sun Devils are bringing in a slew of recruits and the depth chart will look significantly different by the end of fall camp. On Tuesday, Fred Gammage did show that he developed nice chemistry with Taylor Kelly as the quarterback hit him on three separate occasions during a team period.

On Monday, Norvell mentioned that Jefferson and Smith were both candidates to receive a lot of playing time this season, and that could allow the Sun Devils to redshirt four-star recruit Jalen Harvey. Harvey and fellow recruits Tyler Whiley and junior college transfer Eric Lauderdale are expected to be impact players at wide receiver.

Left Tackle Left Guard Center Right Guard Right Tackle
Evan Goodman Jamil Douglas Nick Kelly Vi Teofilo Tyler Sulka
Jack Powers Christian Westerman Devin Goodman Stephon McCray William McGehee

Notes: A mild surprise from Tuesday's practice revealed that Christian Westerman was not on the first team offensive line. Westerman excelled in positional drills and is among the most violent linemen when using his hands, and it would be a significant development if he was not starting this fall.

The coaching staff is very high on Goodman and Kelly, and despite losing two starters, Arizona State believes its offensive line has the potential to improve this season because of this pair. Expect Jamil Douglas to work at tackle this spring to hone his skills in the event that Arizona State believes Goodman will be the odd-man out to get Westerman in the lineup.

Defensive Depth Chart

Returning Starters in Italics

Nose Guard Tiger End
Mo Latu Demetrius Cherry Marcus Hardison
Corey Smith Zach Abdorrahimzadeh Edmond Boateng

Notes: The defensive linemen are the wide receivers of the defense as the Sun Devils are far from solidifying anything at this position. Jaxon Hood injured his hand and wasn't at practice Tuesday, but if healthy, he should earn a starting spot on the defensive line in the fall. Mo Latu appears to have trimmed down, but he's still a ways away from becoming an every down player.

The Sun Devils will have options when Dalvon Stuckey arrives this fall. A highly touted junior college transfer, Stuckey can come in and start right away if he picks up the Sun Devils' tempo, discipline and scheme which is something that Marcus Hardison had trouble with last season. Hardison can play on the end or the interior, and if the Sun Devils feel Viliami Latu is a better option than Stuckey, Hardison could kick inside with Latu sliding from Devil backer to end. The point is, there's so much left to be determined at these positions that it's too early to guess how things will end up.

Devil Sam Will Spur
Chans Cox Salamo Fiso Antonio Longino Laiu Moeakiola
Viliami Latu Eriquel Florence Alani Latu D.J. Calhoun

Notes: Chans Cox got the first look at the Devil backer spot, but Viliami Latu and Cox will likely go back and forth in the amount of reps they take this spring. Recruit Darrius Caldwell could be an immediate fix at the position, but Graham and his staff have talked highly of Cox and Latu and appear determined to get both on the field this season.

Salamo Fiso is the perfect fit at the Sam linebacker spot, and the defense will be counting on him to remain healthy this season. Antonio Longino can play just about any position at the linebacker level, and he'll start the spring at Will. Longino has a lot of Chris Young in him, and that means against run-heavy opponents, he could slide out to Spur and allow a player like Alani Latu to take over at Will.

Laiu Moeakiola began last season as the boundary safety, but when Damarious Randall returned from injury, the coaching staff explored Moeakiola as an option at Spur. Moeakiola is an upgrade over the departed Anthony Jones in pass coverage, but Arizona State's biggest liability at the position last season was stopping perimeter runs. Early enrollee D.J. Calhoun is already in the "two-deep" depth chart and though Graham talked about starting him out as a Will, Calhoun could be a more natural fit at Spur and that's where he played on Tuesday.


Boundary Corner Boundary Safety Field Safety Field Corner
Rashad Wadood Ezekiel Bishop Damarious Randall Lloyd Carrington
William Earley Jordan Simone James Johnson Solomon Means

Notes: Much to the dismay of the Sun Devil faithful, Marcus Ball was participating in practice but donning a green non-contact jersey. Ball was expected to start at the field safety spot last year before a shoulder injury, and if he gets healthy, he should be the front-runner for the boundary safety position this year because Graham wants him on the field.

Lloyd Carrington will likely nab a starting spot in the fall, but Rashad Wadood will battle with Solomon Means, William Earley and newcomer Kweishi Brown for the boundary corner spot. Brown is a junior college transfer whose physicality on film is reminiscent of Osahon Irabor, and that's important to consider at a position that requires solid tackling skills.

The Sun Devils are extraordinarily high on James Johnson, who Graham mentioned in his post-practice comments about once a week last season. If Ball doesn't get healthy soon, Johnson could get a look at boundary safety where Ezekiel Bishop and Jordan Simone are holding down the fort. Simone was working with the third-team on Tuesday, but an interception during team drills vaulted him onto the second team and it's clear that he's already a favorite of new assistant coach Keith Patterson.
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