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ASU Football: Quarterback battle continues, George Lea returns to program

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ASU hit the practice field for the second time this spring on Wednesday

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona State's first practice of spring saw the beginning of a quarterback competition, the formation of a new offensive line and continued implementation of a new offense.

ASU's second practice saw those storylines built upon, but the Sun Devils will wait until next week to throw on pads and delve deeper into the development of those transitions.

As for Wednesday, ASU mostly worked on technique and scheme, making sure the players transitioning into contributing roles are ready for when they bring out the pads.

Here are some notes and observations from Wednesday's practice.

The QB Trio Has a Pecking Order

Notable from Monday's practice was that the three quarterbacks competing for the 2016 season's starting job - Manny Wilkins, Brady White and Bryce Perkins - shared the first-team reps equally. That wasn't the case Wednesday.

When ASU finished with warmups and broke out into individual position drills, the quarterbacks got to run through a few plays with the rest of the offense. Wilkins took snaps with the first team, followed by Perkins with the second team and culminating in Brady White leading the third team.

Wilkins was joined on the first team by Ellis Jefferson, Cameron Smith and Tim White at wideout, with Jay Jay Wilson earning looks at tight end. Terrell Chatman and Jalen Harvey participated in Perkins' snaps with the second team and Frederick Gammage and Eric Lauderdale lined up with White and the third team.

Even though he took third team snaps initially, it was Brady White who stood out when the QB's ran through passing drills. While Perkins and Wilkins struggled to complete basic 20-yard out-routes with multiple overthrows, White dropped dimes, showing off the throwing touch that made him a four-star recruit.

It's still up for debate whether White - who came into camp at 200 pounds, 15 heavier than last year - will be strong enough to be durable as well as provide a legitimate rushing threat, but there's no questioning that he can throw the ball.

The drills were quick and the quarterbacks didn't get to run the offense the rest of the day (at least what the media was able to observe), instead transitioning to pocket mobility and ball security. All of the quarterbacks participated in running back coach John Simon's ball protection drills, and the quarterbacks practiced ball security in the open field with a player trying to punch it out from behind.

The quarterbacks also practiced the scramble drill, taking a three-step drop and then spinning to avoid a would-be defender.

From what the QB's have been put through so far, it's clear that Chip Lindsey's offense is going to have a heavy emphasis on the quarterback being a rushing threat, which bodes well for both Wilkins and Perkins. Still, there's plenty of time to go before Todd Graham has to make a decision. In the meantime, he was pleased with the effort he saw from his QB's.

"First guys on, first guys off. That's the first time I've seen that," Graham said of his QB's. "I'm talking about sprinting on and off the field, which has everything to do with winning.

"The quarterback's going to be the guy who elevates the other 10 guys on the field," Graham said. "They key component to quarterback is leadership. It's not the guy who's talking, it's the guy other guys respond to."

Graham Keeping It Simple for Defensive Backs

While Arizona State trots out both a boundary and field corner as well as safeties during the season, for spring camp Todd Graham said he's sticking to the basics of the defensive backfield scheme to ensure that everyone is able to step in to either a corner or safety role if needed.

"One of the things that we're doing is dual-training our guys," Graham said. "During the season we play boundary and field to match up on personnel, for spring we're just going left and right, that way they can learn. So Chad (Adams), Armond (Perry) and (Kareem) Orr are dual-training safety and corner.

"What happens to use in the backend is we'll have an injury, and instead of the next best guy being on the field - remember last year with Solomon (Means), I had to move him late and we had that learning curve - so we want to dual-train them. That's part of our analysis that we want to improve upon, so that we have the next best defensive back going in instead of the next best safety or corner."

George Lea returns to the Program

One of the more disappointing offseason occurrences before the 2015 season started was the arrest of freshman defensive end George Lea. He was subsequently suspended for the season. Now, he's back and while his chances at starting are slim to none, Graham has had him right in the middle of everything that the defensive line is doing.

"Good kid, had a pretty stern punishment and has done everything we've asked from him for improvement and more than that," Graham said. "Good kids sometimes make bad decisions, the key is building and education, he's learned from the ordeal and grown from it."