Pitchfork Notepad: ASU Wraps Up Spring Practices

Talk is cheap. Results aren’t. Spring practices for Arizona State University are over, following their scrimmage inside Sun Devil Stadium on Sunday. Now, the talk surrounding the program has to turn into results. 

There’s a lot to be excited about for Herm Edwards’ fourth season. The expectations stem from the culture and the increased ability to recruit. Here are five storylines to track, based on what was seen and said during spring ball.

1. The flow of the offense

Zak Hill’s offense was choppy last year, in large part due to the lack of consistent practice. This year, Jayden Daniels and crew are better equipped to be one of the most explosive scoring threats in the PAC-12. Edwards and Hill are raving about the trio of running backs and the growth of young receivers like LV Bunkley-Shelton, Andre Johnson, and Elijah Badger. Badger seems to be the next go-to guy, even as a true freshman. The offense feels more pro-style, with Daniels taking plenty of snaps directly under center in the spring scrimmage game. Also worth noting, backup QB Trenton Bourget is a gun-slinger who is making great throws all over the field.

2. Jalin Conyers

The former Oklahoma Sooner is good… like really good. He’s going to be a consistent red zone threat and a security blanket for Daniels. He scored two touchdowns in the spring scrimmage, albeit against second and third string defenses. With four years of eligibility left, he brings a skill set that matches Hill’s offense to a tee. Remember the name come fall.

3. The size passes the eye test

ASU has size at all starting positions, which is new for the program. The only team in the PAC-12 who consistently gets size is USC. The Sun Devils don’t have the same depth, especially in the trenches, but they’re close. This is what national recruiting does for a program. This program passes the eye test and the physicality should translate to better results. Eating wings may help in the size department.

4. Defensive Leadership

There are 11 returning starters on defense. Yes that’s every starter from last season. With all those returners comes the benefit of leadership and continuity. Chase Lucas has the C on his chest for the first time, which was part of his reasoning to skip the NFL Draft in April. That speaks volumes for how he and others view the potential for this team. Merlin Robertson, Kyle Soelle, and Jack Jones are leading the growth of this unit as well. 

5. The Young Coaches

This one may seem out of place, but don’t get it twisted. ASU has a few future head coaches on the staff. Antonio Pierce is the hot commodity, and rightfully so. Two coaches who really stand out though are defensive backs coach Chris Hawkins and tight ends coach Adam Breneman. When they speak to the media, they are poised and confident in themselves and their guys. Both are under the age of 27 and making themselves known nationally. Hawkins is ranked as the No. 1 recruiter in the West Coast by 247Sports.