Time is the healer of all wounds, and the answer to most questions. There are infinite unsolved queries on the gridiron, and new faces across Sun Devil Athletics who will make a name for themselves over the next year. In the meantime, here are the answers to some of those burning questions as the collegiate sports dead-period winds down.
Should ASU refuse to play USC or UCLA in any sport as a consequence if they’re leaving the conference, or should we continue to schedule them for recruiting and tradition? My vote is to play UCLA but not SC. - Troll S.
REDFERN: Props to Mr. Troll for continuously making me question my sanity as to whether I can decipher sarcasm over text. For the sake of this drill, I’ll answer it.
First, any scheduling agreements with the LA schools in 2022-2024 will hold up through the transition. Second, recruiting and tradition do not drive ASU to play USC and UCLA, contracts and the money associated with them are the motivating factor. There are more eyeballs in Los Angeles than any other city in the conference. Simply by competing against LA teams, there are more viewers, which in turn means more money on the table, than in Pullman or Palo Alto.
This is why USC and UCLA are so valuable, but rumors are swirling that the Pac-12’s new media rights deal, presumably with ESPN and/or Fox, will be lucrative enough to offset some of the lost revenue from letting USC and UCLA walk.
Which two players stand out the most in Fall Camp so far? - Zoon P.
KR: A lot of us are starving for information on the receiver room, so seeing Charles Hall IV step onto the practice field for the first time and make an immediate impression was eye-opening. Any time a player in that group separates himself from the rest, it is noteworthy.
Hall IV is a 5-foot-11, 205-pound senior transfer from Virginia Union University, an HBCU where he averaged 25 yards per reception in the last two seasons. He is noticeably fast, earning reps with the first-team offense and as a returner on special teams. When asked about the transfer receivers last week, Edwards mentioned Hall first.
Defense is harder to decipher with limited contact and minimal padding. If I were to choose one based on looks and hype, Merlin Robertson takes the cake. Ever since his breakout Freshman year in 2018, Robertson has generated preseason hype, but none like this. The senior linebacker has a new-and-improved, yet leaned-out frame. In a “prove-it” year with draft implications and a new defensive coordinator, Robertson has the opportunity to increase his stock while remaining a fan-favorite in Tempe.
Are you seeing any differences regarding how the players are responding to current QB’s vs the way they did to Jayden Daniels? - Lisa A.
KR: In terms of how the quarterbacks command a room, we don’t see much. Obviously the rest of the team will support their quarterback(s) publicly through the media, so it is hard to get a glimpse into the inner dynamics of a program.
From what I see, the ASU players will roll with whoever is taking snaps. They respect Emory Jones’s resume, they know Trenton Bourguet’s work ethic and they have meshed well with Paul Tyson on the field and in the NIL game.
It is also my understanding that no quarterback on the roster consistently brings family members around the facility. Make of that information what you will.
Is #5 the permanent number for an ASU QB? Like the Dallas Cowboys best WR is always 88? - Zoon P.
KR: Herm Edwards was actually asked about this at media day. Emory Jones picked number-five, but there is no reasoning or rationale related to Manny Wilkins or Jayden Daniels. Remember Jones arrived in the summer after Trenton Bourguet and Paul Tyson were already competing for the job. It is simply a coincidence.
Let’s hear about Natasha Adair, specifically relative to on court philosophy, and any chance we’ll see a difference in player style that she recruits to fit that style vs CTT did? Seems got a few transfer-ins, but I am unfamiliar with both the coach and what to expect as well as the incoming players. - ArizonaSon
WEIPZ: In what I have read regarding Adair and what to expect this year, I think it will be a nice change for the Arizona State women’s basketball team. Adair’s teams in recent years have been in the top of the league in scoring and she likes to give her players the freedom to play their style.
Her teams have also led the conference in offensive rebounding, which is something similar to what Charlie Turner Thorne emphasized a lot during the past few seasons with her team. I also think that both Turner Thorne and Adair prioritize defense.
I would look for Adair’s team to be a little more aggressive. The Blue Hens’ press defense forced turnovers nearly 30 percent of the time. Delaware also ranked among the top post-defending teams in the country (96th percentile) according to Synergy Sports. For reference, Arizona State was in the 30th percentile last year.
This is an evident point of emphasis, considering that Adair brought in three new players that are at least six feet tall to add depth at the wing and center positions. One player I would keep my eye on is Treasure Hunt, who transferred from Kentucky.
Hunt was a five-star recruit coming out of high school and still has a lot of upside coming to Tempe. She is one player that knows how to get a bucket, which will be necessary after leading scorer Jade Loville is off to the school down south.
Zeke Jones got a well deserved 5-year contract extension. The dude bleeds Maroon and Gold. There’s also more noise about a possible national championship this upcoming season (yeah, yeah when any ASU team has high expectations they seem to fall flat).
The team had been weak at 141 and 133 the year before last, but last year seemed to shore that up and then pretty much got smoked at 174/184 this last season costing them duals/meet positioning. How have those positions gotten shored up going into this next season, and any news on Kennedy Monday transferring from NC? - ArizonaSon
KR: Zeke Jones’s extension was well-deserved, and you are correct overall. There may be no better combination of traits at the school right now than his success paired with his passion for ASU athletics. He is a pleasure to watch and, from what I hear, to speak with.
There were drastic improvements at the bottom of the weight classes in last year’s fourth-place finish at nationals (Brandon Courtney, Michael McGee). McGee ended up corralling the second-highest point total (14) on the team at the championships at 133. He is a two-time All-American coming back for his sixth year. Along with the acquired portal depth, 133 should be a strong point for ASU. Courtney will undoubtedly be a cornerstone.
There are a total of five freshmen at 174 and 184 combined for 2022, on top of the returners who did not see the spotlight last season. While some may take a redshirt year and compete in opens, Cael Valencia will likely be the man at 174, even after being a top-prospect at 160. The third Valencia brother took a redshirt last year, but 2022 aims to be his breakout season after starting 9-0 and finishing 12-4 in opens last year.
I’m sure you are aware, but Anthony Montalvo is expected to be the starter at 184 after transferring in from Oklahoma State where he gathered a 45-10 record. It was potentially Jones’s biggest portal splash at a class that cost the team bonus points, last year.
Valencia and Montalvo are upgrades, but the depth is still thin. The success from these classes may be determined by how healthy they stay.
A detailed report from Monday’s fall camp practice will be coming early Tuesday, with clips from practice on Youtube and the website shortly before.