With the uncertainty among the backfield and the trenches of the Sun Devils’ offense, there is one solidified position group on the scoring side of the ball. The Wide Receivers. Most eyes will turn to N’Keal Harry, and for good reason. Although, the pass catchers for Manny Wilkins goes much deeper than his star wideout.
With the spotlight on Harry, who finished last season leading the team in receptions (82), yards (1142) and touchdowns (8). It’s easy to see why he’s slated for an early NFL draft selection after this season. But his partner in crime, Kyle Williams, shouldn’t be overlooked.
Williams looks to improve on his impressive sophomore season. He finished just one touchdown behind Harry and added another reliable option for Wilkins.
The top pass catcher that does not return this season for the Sun Devils is former running back Kalen Ballage. Jalen Harvey reeled in the third most passes last season, he returns to Tempe this year, but has switched to the defensive side of the ball. John Humphrey will miss all of 2018 after his season-ending achilles injury back in March.
With that, some of the Devils younger receivers like the 6-foot-8 sophomore Curtis Hodges and freshman speedster Geordon Porter may have a chance to see some real playing time and contribute quickly.
Experience. With Harry and Williams back, ASU returns 148 receptions and 15 touchdowns. Even with the coaching overhaul with Herm Edwards regime, the chemistry between Wilkins, Harry and Williams shouldn’t miss a beat.
For the Sun Devils’ quarterback, his relationship with Harry is already other worldly after just over two years together.
“You know how twins have their little telepathic whatever, where they think the same thing at the same time,” Wilkins said at Pac-12 Media Day. “I think last year is where we just, I didn’t need to think, we just thought the same thing.
“And that’s why we stay after practice every time 30 to 45 minutes just working on things that either didn’t click that day or things that we need to continuously work on to be better.”
Biggest Question Mark
Who replaces Humphrey and Harvey at the third wide receiver position? During spring practice Frank Darby and Terrell Chatman battled back-and-forth for the spot. Both looked good during the Spring Game and countless practices, however will that translate into the games? Last season, the two combined for 10 catches, and nine belonged to Darby.
During ASU’a off-time in the winter and summer, Harry brought Darby out to workout with him, Chase Lucas and a few other local kids. Being an observer to their work ethic and passion for the game, Harry thinks that benefitted Darby greatly.
“I feel like Frank has so much potential, he can be one of the best receivers in the country,” Harry said at Pac-12 Media Day. “Just having him around us, just to see how much we work, just to see how much we really love this game, when I brought him out there he was like ‘there is no way y’all still wanna run routes’ we were out there for hours because its what we love. I feel like if we get that mindset to him which I feel like he has, it’s over, that’s a wrap.”
What It All Means
As long as Harry and Williams stay healthy and produce how they did last year, the Sun Devils passing attack should improve from sixth in the Pac-12, where they were a year ago. Darby, Chatman or whomever rises to the occasion of that third spot will have some hiccups along the way. That’ll be okay with defenses concerned about Harry and having an experienced quarterback in Wilkins.