It has come up fast, but ASU Football’s spring game is only a week away. During the third week of spring practice, some questions were answered, while others will likely remain unsolved going into summer ball. Here are the main points of note from this week’s four practices.
Honestly, I thought there would be a bigger reaction to arguably the Sun Devils’ best player slowly making his way back to practice. On Friday, Jermayne Lole participated in a limited capacity in some individual drills.
The front seven with a healthy Lole should be one of the best in the conference, particularly against the run. Defensive players in media availability have mentioned that Donnie Henderson’s defense will not vary too far from Antonio Pierce’s, which had Lole at the three-technique tackle role.
Right now, that spot is occupied in team drills by sophomore Omarr Norman-Lott, who primarily found success on third downs last season. Michael Matus, TJ Pesefea and Anthonie Cooper have filled out the rest of the line on most first-team defense reps. BJ Green, Travez Moore and Nesta Jade Silvera have been out.
Kyle Soelle, Merlin Robertson and Eric Gentry unsurprisingly have been the first-team linebackers.
Lole was projected to be one of the Sun Devils, and the conference’s, top pro prospects in 2021 before he tore his tricep last August and missed all of last season.
While they are controversial, PFF loves him, and ranked him as an All-American and the 24th ranked player in the nation going into the 2021 season. The hope is he will be ready for Week One, and if he can mirror his 2019 and 2020 outputs, watch out.
Big options in the 12 personnel
Something HoS hasn’t brought up in our practice recap and Mailbags is the tight end room. Right now, we are seeing a lot of two-tight-end looks offensively, with Jalin Conyers and the Missouri transfer Messiah Swinson.
Conyers (6-4, 250 pounds) and Swinson (6-7, 255 pounds) provide unparalleled size and strength at a position for which Sun Devil nation has been clamoring for years. The Curtis Hodges-Jayden Daniels connection (373 yards, two touchdowns) was strong, but there is still room for improvement production-wise at the position.
The run game looks like it will be the foundation for the offense, so look for those two to be on the field together often. Their blocking responsibilities will be crucial on the edge.
Holes in the Secondary
With Chase Lucas and Jack Jones clocking out, the two outside cornerback positions need to be filled. Timarcus Davis is the most definite option for one of them, as his size and (6-0, 175 pounds) and experience are optimal for an island job.
Isaiah Johnson, Macen Williams, Ed Woods, Jean Boyd III and Keon Markham have all taken first-team reps at outside corner as well. Williams was also seen among Johnson and Davis in a nickel package on Saturday.
Johnson, a four-star prospect, has impressed recently, and his talent immediately puts him in the discussion for a corner spot.
Kejaun Markham and Samford transfer Chris Edmonds are taking snaps at the safety spots, with Jordan Clark mixing in as well. Clark showed his versatility last season as a nickleback. Alijah Gammage and Khourey Bethley also have gotten meaningful reps.
Mandatory QB talk
Two weeks ago, it was Paul Tyson vs Trenton Bourguet. Last week, a transfer acquisition seemed definite. This week, even with Bourguet getting most of the first-team reps, it feels more like an open competition than ever.
While watching drills, it is very difficult to separate production among the quarterbacks. All of them spoke to the media on Friday, and the group seems to be enjoying themselves and welcoming the competition. That sentiment reflects on the practice field.
The most significant thing we have seen over the last two weeks is sophomore Daylin McLemore sneaking in with the second-team during team drills. McLemore (6-3, 205) has not seen any game action as a Sun Devil.
In Saturday’s practice at Sun Devil Stadium, we were allowed to watch six plays from the team portion of practice. The first was a kickoff return. The next was a play-action pass that saw Elijah Badger cut open across the open field. Bourguet put it on his numbers, but Badger dropped it.
The next play was a wheel route to Conyers down the right sideline, but Bourguet left the ball about five yards too short and it was picked off (did not catch who, but it was the second team defense). A pair of decent runs, one by George Hart III, followed for a first down. Finally, Bourguet hit Ricky Pearsall on a whip route for a short gain.
Sloppy, but fairly insignificant.
- Des Holmes, who had been getting starting reps at tackle, did not practice at the end of this week. Northern State Emmitt Bohle took the first team reps in his absence. Chris Martinez also has slipped into the RG role over Spencer Lovell on a few occasions.
- LV Bunkley-Shelton practiced in a limited capacity this week. Pearsall, Bryan Thompson, and Badger have been the trio in the three-receiver set.
- Xazavian Valladay and Daniyel Ngata continue to split running back reps.
ASU’s spring game is next Saturday, April 9th, with events starting at 5:30 pm.