SUN DEVIL FOOTBALL IS BACK. ASU started its fall camp on Wednesday to start the 2019 campaign.
Next practice: Thursday, August 1
Warm-up Music: Ride Wit Me (Nelly)
NFL scouts in attendance: Rams, 49ers, Giants, Buccaneers, Texans
Three players were seen in green non-contact jerseys: linebacker Stanley Lambert (recovering from ACL tear), defensive lineman Shannon Forman, defensive lineman Stephon Wright.
Projected starting left tackle Zach Robertson was missing. Head coach Herm Edwards said he was gone for personal matters and there is no timetable for his return. Linebacker Tyler Johnson, was very limited but is recovering from offseason shoulder surgery. Wide receiver Geordon Porter appeared to be banged up mid-practice.
What went on
Depth charts will of course be scrambled for the first few weeks of practice. Remember when Darien Butler and Merlin Robertson weren’t starters?
In non-practice news, Oregon transfer offensive lineman Cody Shear was granted immediate eligibility and could have up to four years in Tempe.
Now to get to the meat and potatoes: the quarterbacks.
Practice wasn’t too intense for the playcallers on day one, but there were some glimpses of guys separating themselves at least a little bit.
Near the end of practice, the team split into 11-on-11’s. Earlier in the evening, the team had a short period of 7-on-7’s, and redshirt junior Dillon Sterling-Cole took first team reps. Freshmen Jayden Daniels was second string, freshmen Joey Yellen took third string reps, and freshmen Ethan Long rounded out the group.
Daniels was nothing but steady on day one. In 11-on-11’s, he started out by dropping off a swing pass to junior running back Eno Benjamin. He also hit senior wide receiver Kyle Williams in stride on a short crossing route, and he hit redshirt senior running back Paul Lucas on a quick checkdown. He even showcased his legs and scampered out of the pocket once.
The one deep shot that Daniels took was during 7-on-7’s, and he just overshot his intended receiver. Other than that, the freshmen looked cool and poised on his first day.
“Jayden is Jayden. He’s always played that way,” said Edwards.
As for Daniels’ counterparts, they showed up as well. Sterling-Cole had a couple of missiles that he completed over the middle of the field, although he did have a couple of missed opportunities on balls that he threw behind intended targets.
Like Daniels, Yellen also seemed poised, dropping off a few swing passes and completing some short throws in 11-on-11’s. More will be learned about the players over the coming week, and things will only be ramped up with each day. For now, though, day one was somewhat quiet.
Offensive lineman Steven Miller also looked to be slimmed down at practice. Another person who looked lean was Benjamin. He had the looks of a 210-pound wrecking ball.
Also on the o-line, standout center Cohl Cabral slid over to left tackle because of Robertson’s absence.
Freshman Dohnovan West and redshirt freshman Jarrett Bell took over at center. As an All-Conference player at center and a veteran leader, Edwards noted that Cabral is doing whatever it takes to help his team.
“We are hoping that’s not the case (with moving Cabral to left tackle), but for a guy to do that with so many awards that he’s in line to receive, it says a lot about who he is,” Edwards said. “He says, ‘I just want to win the Pac-12 South. If I have to play left tackle, then I’ll play left tackle.’ That’s the kind of kid he is.”
There might be some slight cause for concern with the absence of Robertson and an unknown timeline for when he is coming back. Nevertheless, it’s only day one, and things can always change. But for now, it appears that Robertson will be out for the near future.
Big men doing big men things pic.twitter.com/QtNYQ06Qqx— House of Sparky (@HouseOfSparky) August 1, 2019
On the defensive side of the ball, the goal seems to be to build a nine-man rotation for the d-line. Rice grad transfer Roe Wilkins (95) lined up at the left end of the 3-3-5. JUCO transfer T.J. Pesefea (44) was put into the nose tackle position.
Coach Cain working his first “fall” practice with ASU pic.twitter.com/Gdtde9V7NA— House of Sparky (@HouseOfSparky) August 1, 2019
Freshman Amiri Johnson was expected to be a part of the defensive line, however, at 6-foot-6 and very athletic, the team is giving him a try at outside linebacker. Johnson will definitely need to put on weight. Ely Doyle continued his switch from safety to linebacker.
The quote of the night came from linebackers coach Antonio Pierce. His position group was working with tackling dummies and they had to pick a path based on the way the coaches moved a bag. Star linebacker Merlin Robertson got a bit juked out on one and Pierce let him hear it.
“You got crossed over by a god damn bag,” Pierce exclaimed.
The second team defense featured freshman cornerback Jordan Clark, son of former NFL player Ryan Clark. Former Saguaro standout Connor Soelle was part of the second team safety duo. Once again it seems as if Edwards’ team will have difference makers at a very young age.
During 11-on-11s, the lone interception belonged to Kobe Williams on an overthrown ball out of the hand of Long.
Long, who had limited time at quarterback in practice, also lined up at wide receiver and caught a ball from Yellen. Edwards said he’s going to try to get Long on the field any way possible, whether it’s on offense or defense. He spoke highly of the first-year player from Oregon.
“I love that kid. He’s the best, and he gets it,” Edwards said. “He’s a marvelous young man and a really good football player. He’s got to be on the field, and that’s what I told him. I told him, ‘You are going to play. I have to get you on the field.’ And the players know it too. He’s going to be fun...I told him I am not done with him and I told him, ‘You might be going to the other side of the ball too in certain practices.’”
QB: Dillion Sterling-Cole
RB: Eno Benjamin/Isaiah Floyd
WR: Brandon Aiyuk, Kyle Williams, Frank Darby
TE: Tommy Hudson/Jared Bubak
OL: Cohl Cabral (LT), Alex Losoya (LG), Jarrett Bell (C), Cade Cote (RG), Steven Miller(RT)
DL: Jermayne Lole, D.J. Davidson, George Lea
LB: Darien Butler, Merlin Robertson, Khaylan Kearse-Thomas
CB: Chase Lucas, Kobe Williams
Tillman: Tyler Whiley
S: Cam Phillips, Aashari Crosswell
QB: Jayden Daniels/Joey Yellen
RB: A.J. Carter/Paul Lucas
WR: Jordan Kerley, Keith Davis, Tannor Park
TE: Jared Bubak/Mark Walton
OL: Ralph Frias (LT), Cade Cote (LG), Dohnovan West (C), Roy Hemsley (RG), Spencer Lovell(RT)
DL: Roe Wilkins, T.J. Pesefea, Michael Matus
LB: Kyle Soelle, Case Hatch, Ely Doyle
CB: Darien Cornay, Jordan Clark
Tillman: Evan Fields
S: K.J. Jarrell, Connor Soelle