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ASU Football: Maroon & Gold Spring Practice notebook

Back in action

Jalin Conyers catches a touchdown during the first segment of Arizona State’s annual spring football game at Sun Devil Stadium.
Katelyn MacCrory (Sun Devil Athletics)

Arizona State concluded its spring football practices with the Maroon and Gold scrimmage in front of 5,200 fans at Sun Devil Stadium on Sunday. Here’s what went down.

Before the practice began, wide receiver Frank Darby shouted words of encouragement to the players.

Darby, who chose to enter the 2021 NFL Draft in December, will work out at ASU’s football Pro Day tomorrow. He managed to capture the attention of Chase Lucas. Lucas emphatically gave him a wave hello before turning to receive the opening kickoff.

Jayden Daniels took the field first with Rachaad White in the backfield. Although Daniels couldn’t get rolling on the first drive, head coach Herm Edwards said he allowed the officials to call a few flags in order to get the offense more reps. The drive finished with a 43-yard field goal by Logan Tyler.

The first score of the day came on a connection between backup quarterback Trenton Bourguet and Oklahoma transfer tight end Jalin Conyers from nine yards out.

Bourguet rifled a pass between three Sun Devils and Conyers made a strong catch in the back of the end zone as T. Lee swiped at the ball.

Conyers didn’t stop there, racking up five total catches over the course of the day. He caught his second touchdown of the day on a slant route thrown by Finn Collins.

Edwards described Conyers as a “very talented player” and believes the tight end will play a big role in ASU’s system this fall and beyond.

“We’ve got some tight ends but we’ll continue to look for some,” Edwards said in a Zoom call following the practice. “We want length. I think this football team is all about length right now. Length and size, that’s what we’re looking for, in the tight end position especially. We want guys that are six-five or more, to be quite honest. But the guys that we have here now, they’re functioning in the system.”

Another impressive piece of the Sun Devil offense was freshman wide receiver Elijhah Badger, who caught a pair of catches on both sides of the field for long gains. Geordon Porter dazzled with a jumping grab down the left sideline as well.

Fullback Case Hatch rotated 180 degrees to catch a lob from Jayden Daniels before barreling into the south end zone for a score, too.

Johnny Wilson also hauled in a 30-yard pass from Collins late in the game, who threw across his body while rolling to his right to get his big target the ball.

The offense seems to finally be clicking after a 2020 season dogged by inconsistencies in the passing game.

“I feel very comfortable,” Daniels said. “I feel like you guys can tell out there on the field that everybody on the offense looks more comfortable than what we did last year.

“Repping it over and over in practice, just diving more into the playbook, Coach Hill is making it real easy on us to just go out there and play fast. And if we just play fast, we’re playing confident.”

Defensive highlights included a fumble return for a touchdown by Stanley Lambert and an interception to end the game by cornerback Keon Markham.

Other notable plays were key pass breakups by Lucas and linebacker Jordan Banks, who saved a touchdown by batting away a quick pass intended for wide receiver Evan Burkhardt.

“I thought the spring game went as planned,” defensive coordinator Antonio Pierce said. “Kept it simple, let the guys play, have fun. I think we saw that out there. The good part about spring is you get to see guys with the bright lights and big stadium, and obviously having fans here was one of the biggest pluses for me.”

Yes, it’s only spring ball, and even Edwards himself said that he doesn’t feel like the Sun Devils are game-ready just yet.

But the improvement on offense is noticeable with many young players finally getting a full spring slate under their belts. Inevitably, expectations will remain high.

Daniels, for one, wants to make his mark on the program in his third year as a starter. A player that has been praised for his poise and decision-making, Daniels is looking to make his mark and cement his place in Sun Devil lore.

“I want to no matter what, just leave a legacy,” Daniels said. “Going down the road I want to win a Rose Bowl. I want to be the quarterback that won a Rose Bowl in a very long time here. The fans deserve that. This team deserves that. That’s what we’ve been working for each and every day.”

Daniels will have to wait to begin his quest until the Sun Devils face off against Southern Utah in Tempe on September 2. It’s only six short months away.