The Pac-12 Conference held its preseason media day in Los Angeles on Tuesday. Representing Arizona State was head coach Herm Edwards, quarterback Jayden Daniels and cornerback Chase Lucas. It was also the first time that any Arizona State football representative talked publicly about the NCAA Investigation.
It came to no surprise that people asked the Edwards and the Sun Devils about the recent news of the NCAA investigation into the Arizona State program. The answers were also not shocking as it trended to be typical type of allegation answers.
“It hasn’t been a distraction at all, to be quite honest,” Edwards said. “If you watch our players work and our coaching staff, we’re excited about getting back in the building tomorrow. They’re there today, but I’m going to be back in the building tomorrow. Really going forward on starting camp the fourth of August. I heard the local guys, you guys will actually hopefully get to attend practice, kind of see what it looks like.
“We’re a focused football team. I think it has a lot to do with the players that decided to come back in the spring. That’s kind of where our mindset is right now, as far as what I know, what I see and feel about the players.”
Lucas and Daniels said that following the reports of the investigation becoming public that the captains called a team meeting to address the issue. Lucas, the fifth-year starter, stated that the words were brief from each captain but got the point across.
“We told them, ‘If you have any problems with this, the transfer portal is right there,’” Lucas said. “‘If you don’t, you can stay down in your seats and keep going.’ Nobody stood up. Nobody flinched. So we’re just going to keep going.”
Edwards also noted that one person will fill tight ends coach Adam Breneman’s role after he was put on administrative leave. However, that individual was not named.
“Yes, there be, because you don’t want too many voices in the room,” Edwards said. “We’re staffed enough to be able to adjust. That’s what you do, you always adjust. We’ll be in good shape that way. Right now I don’t want to (say who). I don’t think it’s appropriate to do that right now, before our whole staff actually knows. I would like to tell them first (smiling).”
It seems like yesterday that Daniels made his commitment to Arizona State and revamping the fandom in some of the Sun Devil faithful. Now, the quarterback enters his junior year, an important season for himself and the program. The talent is clearly there, but for the Sun Devils to reach the destinations they want, a lot of it depends on Daniels’ individual leap.
“In college football, it’s really shown that you have to score points, score points in college football, even pro football, through the passing game. You have to be able to throw the football. We’re built in a way where Jayden is going to have opportunities,” Edwards said. “I think for him, just listening to him and being with him, the young receivers that he played with last year, all the work they’ve done behind the scenes and during the spring, when spring was over with, even now.
“Talking earlier in the green room, telling me how those guys have progressed. He has to throw the ball, there’s no doubt about that. We have to score points. You know that in this conference. You got to be in the high 30s to have a chance, right? That’s just the way it is. It’s hard for a defensive guy to say that, but that’s the life we live now. You got to be able to throw it.”
Daniels said that he’s gained 12 pounds this offseason, putting him closer to 200. His weight has always been a big discussion since he arrived on campus with his thin physique and having came in as a freshman at 158 pounds. It’s probably a smaller deal than it’s made out to be, but it shows Daniels dedication to improve himself.
“I’ve been taking this offseason very seriously,” Daniels said. “Everybody, the whole team has. We’ve been working very hard.”
The wide receiver group should be better and grow as the season goes on, helping Daniels along the way. The pieces are in place for him to start peaking as all would hope for a few years ago.
Daniels also announced on Tuesday that he had agreed to a deal — as part of the new name, image and likeness rules — with Venezia’s Pizzeria in Tempe where fans can order his signature J5 pizza.
Edwards answered the question about how coaches and everyone will be changed by the NIL rules.
“Well, I’ll tell you this, I think it’s a new day in college football,” Edwards said. “But not just college football, in college athletics, for all student-athletes. When you think about student-athletes, it’s not just football, it’s all sports. We have over 600 athletes at ASU. How it affects the student-athlete, your university, on where he or she may decide to go, I think this is part of the recruiting of it now. You better embrace it. If you don’t, you’re going to get left behind. That’s the thing we learn in life, that things move on. You have to be ahead of it.
“I think we’ve got a plan how to do that. I think there’s going to be some glitches. First time that we all are dealing with this. But it will be interesting to watch the next three or four years of how this really develops and what it looks like, the model of how to do this. I don’t think anyone has an answer right now because it’s so new to us.”