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Monday Mailbag: Spring football, NIL, and more in our first Q and A of 2022.


NCAA Football: Arizona at Arizona State Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Who’s going to be the starting quarterback next season? - Sundevils23

KEVIN REDFERN: This is the million-dollar – or lack thereof – question. Tempe seems to be split on whether it wants the Marana product in Trenton Bourguet, or the Alabama transfer Paul Tyson. Bourguet (8-for-12. 115 yards, one TD) and Tyson (10-for-16, 150 yards) have a combined experience of about one total game of collegiate football.

People with knowledge of the ins-and-outs of the program expect Bourguet to compete. In three years at ASU, he has moved up the depth chart from scout team QB to the true backup. His football IQ is supposedly very high, and he is not expected to struggle learning a new system from incoming offensive coordinator Glenn Thomas.

Tyson, the Alabama transfer, was seen working out with fellow transfer Messiah Swinson over spring break, which got a lot of traction on social media. Fans have high expectations for Tyson, who has backed-up Tua Tagovailoa, Mac Jones and Bryce Young at Alabama.

Visually, Tyson (6-foot-5, 250 pounds) and Bourguet (5-foot-11, 180 pounds) could not be more different, but we have not seen enough to truly dictate a difference in play style. Tyson will have a bigger arm, but Bourguet seems to have a cerebral advantage.

Expect this competition to run deep into August or maybe even September. There is no rush for Herm to preemptively make a decision on two fairly inexperienced quarterbacks before week one against NAU. I’m going to go out on a limb with a bold take and say that Herm goes with what he knows in Bourguet for at least the opener. I believe it is going to be very hard to bench him as he develops a relationship with the new scheme.

I heard that (Texas A&M has a $30 million per signing class NIL “fund.”

Realizing that ASU must start doing the same to compete, what is a realistic NIL “fund” dollar amount? (Disclosure-I believe that ASU will struggle to raise even $5 million per year) - Troll Slayer

RICKY WEIPZ: Before we dive into this, Jimbo Fisher vehemently denied these claims back in February, but that is what a head coach is supposed to do when these reports surface. For the purpose of answering your question I will assume it’s true. For ASU, I can’t necessarily put a dollar amount on it, but I would agree that $5 million per year would be a big stretch. I think there are two things Texas A&M has that Arizona State lacks: (1) Boosters that can contribute an insane amount of money for recruiting purposes and (2) the united desire of said boosters to create a unified, coherent agenda for football recruiting. It’s all about how that booster money can be washed into NIL dollars.

It is also important to note that in general that ASU does not have a lot of NIL partnership opportunities at its disposal at the moment, which has been rumored to be part of the reason J*yden D*niels transferred to the SEC. Each state also has different NIL laws so potential “loopholes” could be found on a case-by-case basis. It is still all over the place.

Why do none of the top AZ HS recruits in any sport not want to go to ASU? - sundevils

REDFERN: Retaining homegrown talent is a dilemma that coaches at most large, state universities run into as part of the gig. Obviously, Arizona is becoming more of a ripe breeding ground for four-and-five-star talent as the state’s identity continues to go through a shift. It is no secret that athletes are born in this state.

For ASU, it is pretty evident that under Herm Edwards, high-profile in-state acquisitions are viewed as unattainable. With players like Spencer Rattler, Ty Thompson, and more receiving blue blood attention from a very young age, high school coaches in the Valley do not see ASU matching the same energy from a recruiting standpoint as some SEC and other Pac-12 schools. We saw this through former associate head coach and recruiting coordinator Antonio Pierce prioritizing southern California as ASU’s recruiting “backyard.” Will this change with a new recruiting coordinator in Andy Vaughn? I’m sure it’s a priority, but with scarce NIL opportunities in the area, the portal may be a better option to leverage.

As a young adult not too far removed from this age, I also notice the greater desire for younger people to explore the country/world as opposed to staying close to home. Take into account these recruits just spent 2-3 years of their high school careers in limbo with the pandemic. I would want to leave too.

Can I get press credentials for at least one spring practice? Thanks - Zoon P

REDFERN: Not much I can do for you there, Zoon. I’m sure you know, but the annual spring game is scheduled for April 9th and will be open to the public. This will be the first time the fanbase will have a look at the new coaches, the new bells and whistles from the portal and incoming freshmen who enrolled early. House of Sparky will have a report from Monday’s Pro Day for Tuesday as well.

What’s the new offense, backfield in particular, going to look like? Potential, possibilities, etc.? - Lisa A

REDFERN: We talked about quarterbacks, but there is going to be some more turnover offensively from a personnel standpoint. Gone is the backfield tandem of White and Trayanum, and in steps Daniyel Ngata and Wyoming transfer Xazavian Valladay. Ngata has shown flashes the past two years that showed us he has feature-back capabilities in his future. Valladay, a Wyoming transfer, already has two 1,000+ yard rushing efforts in four collegiate seasons. These two will receive the bulk share of carries, along with a few here-and-there from four-star freshman Tevin White and gadget-back Elijah Badger. I do not see the run-game taking a step back, even without Rachaad and Chip.

For the receivers, almost nothing will change. Ricky Pearsall (580 yards, four touchdowns in 2021) has established himself as the most reliable route-runner and true catcher of the group, and he will be close to an every-down guy. LV Bunkley-Shelton (418 yards, two touchdowns) remains one of the few class of 2020 recruits to remain on the roster, and he will be the number-two guy. WR3 is up for grabs, but I imagine it will go to the former Utah-transfer Bryan Thompson as he looks to complete an injury-free season.

We will go over tight ends, offensive line, and defense as spring practice kicks into higher gear.

Who are the frontrunners for the HC job when the inevitable happens and Herm gets fired? - DevilForce1

WEIPZ: In all honesty, it depends when Herm gets the boot/retires/resigns/is no longer with the program. The coaching carousel is almost, if not as fluid as the transfer portal these days. Is Arizona State a job that will attract a high-profile coach? It would probably take a lot more convincing than USC did to Lane Kiffin. For now, there are plenty of more relevant storylines to follow.