When junior wide receiver N’Keal Harry declared for the NFL Draft last December, a question mark revolved around the position.
Who’s the next man up?
With an established wide receiver core of seniors Kyle Williams and Brandon Aiyuk, joined by junior Frank Darby, the incoming freshmen would see playing time this season and in the future.
Those three freshmen are Jordan Kerley, Ricky Pearsall and Geordon Porter. The group not only had to amass themselves with the upperclassman but build a relationship with their true freshman quarterback, Jayden Daniels.
In the first four weeks of the season, the three receivers have caught six balls for 113 yards. It might not seem like a lot but the offense opened up against Colorado, allowing for all three freshmen to have at least one catch this past Saturday.
One of those catches was a first for a freshman wide receiver. Porter hauled in an 11-yard reception for his first catch of his Sun Devil career.
“It felt pretty nice,” Porter said. “Finally getting that first catch felt good.”
A consensus agreement about having an offensive coordinator like Rob Likens and wide receivers coach Charlie Fisher who trust them, gives them confidence every day to improve.
“It feels good just knowing that our coach has confidence in us,” Porter said. “It gives us more confidence on the field, going out there and performing.”
After Saturday’s loss, Likens spoke to the media about what he liked from the young receivers and how they can help the future of the program.
“I was very pleased with the youngsters,” Likens said. “Jordan Kerley kind of had a breakout game, I was very excited for him. I have been waiting on that because he’s such a great player.
“You kind of saw tonight what the future can hold with Geordon Porter, Jordan Kerley, Ricky Pearsall out there. It was exciting to watch a lot of it and we just fell short.”
On Monday, Likens spoke about the five-wideout formation set and if it will be used more this year.
“Yeah, we’re going to try to build off of that a little bit down the road,” Likens said. “Like I said, it all depends on what we see on film as far as how people do things, whether we like this formation or that formation.”
In the first three games of the year, the offense was a little conservative and hesitant as Daniels became confident in addition to changes on the offensive line.
Now, the offense has been able to mold together and put up numbers that fans expected this season and Pearsall knew it was coming.
“We had a really good week of practice and that kind of translated into the game,” Pearsall said. “The speed of our offense throughout practice, we kind of noticed it and coach noticed it and we carried on that speed to the game and that’s why it transitioned so well.”
Pearsall isn’t worried about playing early and the expectations he has on himself.
“I really wasn’t too worried about that to be honest,” he said. “I was just going to come out here and do my best and work really hard and let the coaches decide that. They are going to put me in some good hands and i just let them decide that.”
With Arizona State playing 28 freshmen, this gives the freshmen a chance to showcase themselves and prove that they belong. For Kerley, he knows the chance to build something special in Tempe is in the air.
“I think it’s really special, I think it’s really good that we are playing a lot of freshmen because we are just building that experience,” Kerley said. “We are just really excited for the future and it’s going to be really nice. We are just looking forward to putting in that work and building something special here.”
To build something special, the wideouts know that having a strong relationship with their freshman quarterback will help them out and their QB.
“It’s been really special,” Kerley said. “It’s been really cool to experience and grow together each week and getting better and better together.”
Porter couldn’t hold back how excited he is to play with Daniels for years to come.
“Im just excited for what’s to come in the future and just building that relationship and that comradery with him.”
Pearsall adds that practice is the strongest way for the guys to build a relationship with Daniels.
“I think it’s very important to have that relationship with the quarterback and develop that throughout the year,” Pearsall said. “He obviously has a good relationship with Brandon Aiyuk and their connection is really good. Developing that relationship with him throughout practices and getting everybody going on offense makes you even more lethal on offense.
“We throw passes everyday and that’s just a step in the right direction in developing our relationship. And even going on the field and catching passes like me and Jordan did in the game that just gives more confidence in him and to us and the trust gets stronger.”
The three still want to improve on their route running and as they see the field more this year, they can build that and take the next step in their games.
As the Sun Devils play more freshmen on offense, Pearsall knows that the offense will get better every single day.
“The offense is going to keep getting better and better even with the young guy,” Pearsall said. “We are still developing and getting that experience out there and the more and more we can get, the better we will end up being.”