TEMPE, Ariz. - Saturday’s spring game is looking to be a spectacle in contrast to the Maroon and Gold scrimmages of recent years. While we do not have many details in regards to how the game will operate, there will surely be game-like aspects embedded within the scrimmage.
Arizona State has held 13 practices leading up to the spring game. Below, House of Sparky compiled a list of inaugural Spring Practice Superlatives. Here are the players that have raised eyebrows this spring, and who you should know before entering Sun Devil Stadium Saturday afternoon.
Best inbound transfer, offense: WR Xavier Guillory
A day before ASU spring ball started, members of the team’s leadership council met with the media for a spring luncheon. Idaho State transfer Xavier Guillory’s name was brought up multiple times as someone to watch when practices started, and sure enough, Guillory was the first-day MVP.
In three seasons at Idaho State, Guillory scored nine times and averaged 15.09 yards per-reception. During individual drills at ASU, he has been the most sure-handed receiver on the team. He excels in the yards-after-catch department, as he is one of the fastest players on the team. From an athletic standpoint, Guillory is one of the most explosive players on the field.
“He’s a fast receiver and I can tell he’s hungry,” cornerback R.J. Regan said. “He really wanted this.”
Elijhah Badger was the expected top-receiver heading into camp, but do not be surprised if Guillory surpasses Badger in touches this season. Guillory, who wears No. 1 on his jersey, will surely catch eyeballs on Saturday.
Honorable mentions: RB DeCarlos Brooks, WR Melquan Stovall, OL Max Iheanachor
Best inbound transfer, defense: LB Travion Brown
With Kyle Soelle, Connor Soelle and Merlin Robertson gone, the Sun Devils are going through a full shift-change at linebacker this season. Defensive coordinator Brian Ward’s scheme will showcase two linebackers at the second level instead of three most of the time, and Travion Brown is one of the top candidates to fill an open spot.
Brown comes to Tempe from Washington State with Ward, and his knowledge of the defense made itself apparent in week one when he solidified himself as a vocal leader on the practice field. If any transfer felt the most comfortable in a new environment, it was likely Brown.
“(Brown has) done a great job of coming in and kind of being the guy who kind of knows (the defense) already,” coach Kenny Dillingham said. “He already knows 85% of it, so he can come in and help get guys lined up and be that communication piece, that ‘coach on the field’ when he’s out there.”
The 6-foot-4-inch, 230-pound linebacker collected 49 total tackles and 1.5 sacks last season in Pullman.
Honorable mentions: EDGE Clayton Smith, DB Shamari Simmons, DT Tristan Monday
Freshman standout, defense: DL C.J. Fite
Barring any injuries, C.J. Fite will likely be the first ASU freshman from this year’s class to take starting snaps.
Fite, a 5-foot-11-inch, 290-pound defensive lineman, is already one of the Sun Devils’ finest plugs against the run based on his performance in practice. By week two of the spring, he was taking first-team reps in team drills and scrimmages.
Fite will likely join veteran Anthonie Cooper as a top-two interior defensive lineman on the depth chart. The freshman wearing No. 99 could be at the top of defensive snap counts among defensive lineman for ASU.
Honorable Mention: DB Montana Warren
Freshman standout, offense: QB Jaden Rashada
As the lone offensive freshman to join the team in the spring, Rashada ran unopposed in this category, but we feel he is definitely still worth mentioning.
Rashada and ASU are playing the long game. With two quarterback transfers coming to Tempe to challenge Trenton Bourguet, Rashada has taken the spring to drill-down the fundamentals and learn the system.
During 7-on-7 drills, ASU QB Jaden Rashada was seen motioning the offensive signals on the sideline. HC Kenny Dillingham came over and said, “You already know the signals? That’s impressive.”— Jonah Krell (@JonahKrell) March 14, 2023
Then a fist pump between the two.@sportscronkite
But when we do get to see him throw the football, everyone on the field is impressed. The ball comes out of Rashada’s hand with more zip than any other quarterback in the room. Physically, he’s also the biggest quarterback in Tempe.
There’s a reason he is the crown jewel of this year’s recruiting class. ASU fans will just have to be patient.
Honorable Mention: N/A
Biggest sleeper, offense: TE Bryce Pierre
Sun Devils fans clamored for dynamic tight end play for a decade, and their prayers were answered last season with Jalin Conyers’ breakout. Based on what we have seen in the spring, there might not be enough spots on the field for three ASU tight ends.
Conyers and Messiah Swinson both saw a jump in usage when interim head coach Shaun Aguano took over play-calling duties, but Bryce Pierre never reaped the snap-count benefits.
The 6-foot-5-inch, 255-pound tight end has always looked the part. This spring, the play has followed. He earned respect in practice last season for his blocking abilities, but so far, it looks like his pass-catching skills are following suit.
He impressed in last year’s spring game. We will see if he can make the next step Saturday.
QB Drew Pyne —> TE Bryce Pierre pic.twitter.com/IYGuwEjFq6— Kevin Redfern (@KevinMRedfern13) April 6, 2023
Honorable Mentions: WR Troy Omeire, OL Joey Ramos, WR/RB Javen Jacobs
Biggest sleeper, defense: DB R.J. Regan
R.J. Regan was a top-50 cornerback nationally coming out of high school, but injuries and strong defensive back play from his teammates buried him down the depth chart in his first two seasons as a traditional cornerback, and then as a safety, in Tempe.
Now, Regan is making the full-time transition to nickel corner under Dillingham and Ward. Jordan Clark is the sure-fire starting nickel, but Regan could see himself get opportunities in dime packages should Clark stay healthy.
Regan saw a ton of meaningful snaps this spring with some minor bumps and bruises in the defensive back room, and he took advantage of it. He was sticky in coverage against ASU’s slot receivers and tight ends, which are some of the offense’s most talented players.
Honorable Mentions: DB Macen Williams, LB Caleb McCullough, LB James Djonkam, EDGE Prince Dorbah
Offensive MVP: TE Jalin Conyers
Jalin Conyers is certainly writing his own page in the Sun Devil history books, and he’s quickly reaching local superstardom. In the last five games in 2022, Conyers averaged six receptions a game for 69.2 yards and a touchdown per-game. He had not caught more than three passes before his three-touchdown game against Colorado when Aguano started calling plays.
That stretch of play generated a confidence in Conyers that is unmatched in the ASU locker room. He has an alter-ego (“Corn”). He’s loud and obnoxious on the field. He’s always smiling off the field. He just started hosting a podcast that is skyrocketing in popularity.
All the while, he is hauling-in one-handed grabs and running over defenders in practice.
TE Jalin Conyers is having a huge spring practice at ASU.— Adam Breneman (@AdamBreneman81) March 28, 2023
Conyers is one of the most natural pass catchers I've seen with great size and explosiveness after the catch.
There's no doubt @KennyDillingham and @CoachBBaldwin will get Jalin tons of touches.
I think we'll see… pic.twitter.com/ATPVOCa2K7
Book it now: if Conyers plays the full season, or even most of it, he will be a first-team All-Pac-12 player.
Honorable Mentions: RB DeCarlos Brooks, QB Trenton Bourguet
Defensive MVP: EDGE B.J. Green
B.J. Green returns to Tempe after back-to-back seasons as the team’s sack leader and a short stint in the transfer portal. Green, a former walk-on, is the most disruptive pass-rusher on the ASU defense. His motor operates hot every play, and he recorded a sack in nearly every practice this spring.
“Even if it’s not a one-on-one (matchup), (I have been) using my ability from past season’s to make myself open and get myself into the backfield,” It’s the only way I know how (to play), my hands, my quickness, my speed, my power.”
Honorable Mention: CB Ro Torrence
ASU’s Spring game will take place Saturday at noon at Sun Devil Stadium. Entry is free, and there are no tickets required.