Breaking down the offensive side of the ball, and the question marks that stand after the spring
Perhaps more than any other program in Division I, ASU football’s depth chart will look a lot different from what it did in 2021. With players using the transfer portal as a bullet train to-and-from Tempe, House of Sparky will dive into all three phases of the projected depth chart for 2022.
First, we start with the offense.
Quarterback: Emory Jones, Paul Tyson, Trenton Bourguet, Daylin McLemore, Finn Collins and more
Fall practices are more exciting when a new quarterback is in town, so don’t expect anything less than every news camera on the QB room come early-August. Is that the sign of a program in good shape? Of course not, but the quarterback storylines will be the center of attention at the start of camp.
Emory Jones is the only one of the group with starting experience, and that was against SEC competition. It is a long shot that Tyson or Bourguet would leap Jones, even with a head start on learning the playbook and practicing in the spring.
Jones (5.3 yards per-carry, four touchdowns in 2021) is a true dual-threat under center, and his play style will likely replicate that of Jayden Daniels (5.1 yards per-carry, five touchdowns in 2021).
Emory Jones throwing thread (drops and catches)…
— Jerry’s Backup (@IAmBreezyii) June 14, 2021
How will his arm hold up in Glenn Thomas’ supposed pass-heavy offense? There will be many factors.
How will the new-look offensive line hold up with a new crew of transfers? Will Herm Edwards demand the same “four-first downs” mantra for Jones on the ground? Can he find a reliable number-one target? More to come on that later.
Running back: Daniyel Ngata, Xazavian Valladay, George Hart III, Tevin White, Deonce Elliot and more
Tailbacks have been some of the most popular players in Tempe over the years, and the new crop of runners has the talent to match that success. Ngata is one of the only ASU class of 2020 four-stars who has not left for the portal, and he is on a steady incline production-wise as his touches increased (309 yards, four touchdowns) in 2021.
Valladay already has accolades to his name from his career at Wyoming, and he can be one of the Pac-12’s premier backs should he keep up his track record of success. Hart III was recently put on scholarship for his efforts within the program over the last few years, and White is another four-star with promise. The talent is there, but sometimes for an effective run game, that can be only half of the equation. The other half starts in the trenches.
Offensive linemen (interior): LaDarius Henderson, Ben Scott, Chris Martinez, Kolbe Stuckwisch
And the trenches last year were tough and effective. Dohnovan West (who is now in the NFL as an undrafted free agent with San Francisco), Henry Hattis and Spencer Lovell all started games in 2021 at interior offensive line and have moved on. Say what you want about each individual, but they were all apart of a unit that led a 193-yard-per-game rushing charge.
Henderson, arguably the best of last year’s crew, will return at left guard. He has the potential to boost his draft stock and become one of the top linemen in the conference if he continues to stay healthy.
Players I’m most excited to see in CFB – Pt 13
Ladarius Henderson – OG – Arizona State@Ladarius77 enters the year as a 3rd yr starter with All-Pac12 honors. Great technique and athletic ability jump off the screen. Tough kid, great leader.
Top 5 ‘23 draft IOL prospect ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/ckdSoAOqfq
— Adam Breneman (@AdamBreneman81) May 18, 2022
The versatile Ben Scott is making the move from tackle to center, and the SDSU transfer Martinez will have a good shot at landing the other guard opening with Lovell transferring. If those are the go-to’s on the interior, there are dozens of games started between the three of them.
Offensive linemen (tackle): Des Holmes, Isaia Glass, Emmit Bohle, Joey Ramos, Austin Barry
Kellen Diesch became an NFL prospect after immediately starting as a grad transfer at tackle in 2020 and 2021, so Edwards followed the same blueprint by leveraging the portal to get Penn State transfer Des Holmes, Iowa State transfer Joey Ramos and Northern State transfer Emmit Bohle.
Glass, a Queen Creek product, was a three-star recruit, and has been seen in the starting left tackle spot in practice. Holmes was slotted at right tackle when he was on the field in the spring, with Bohle, Ramos and Barry all earning meaningful reps as well.
The outside spots will be a competition to watch in the fall, and they will be crucial to Emory Jones’ success as a passer and a scrambler.
Wide receiver: Andre Johnson, Bryan Thompson, Elijah Badger, Cam Johnson, Giovanni Sanders, Chad Johnson Jr. and more
ASU wide receivers can be frustrating to dissect because there is so much talent in the room, but none of the remaining pass-catchers post-portal exodus separated themselves from the rest of the pack last season or during the spring.
— Hunter Whalen (@HunterWhalen16) April 10, 2022
Fans are still holding out for Andre Johnson’s breakout. Thompson has had high expectations, and shown flashes, since he transferred from Utah, but injuries and drop problems kept him from playing consistently. Elijah Badger proved versatile as a gadget-player last season, but will have to take a big leap in order to justify his hype. Cam Johnson has SEC success and mirrors the slot-style of the departed L.V. Bunkley-Shelton (with better numbers). Sanders and Johnson Jr. also had memorable moments in the Spring Showcase.
Vanderbilt WR Cam Johnson has transferred to ASU.
Johnson had 1,233 yards and 10 TD’s with Vandy
— WestCoastCFB (@WestCoastCFB) May 9, 2022
The point is, somebody will have to step up. Jones will need a go-to target, something Daniels lacked in his junior season at ASU. Whether that comes at receiver or tight end is yet to be determined.
Tight end: Jalin Conyers, Messiah Swinson, Bryce Pierre, Jacob Newell
In perhaps the most underrated (but still unproven) group on offense, each tight end for ASU will have an opportunity to compete for a large portion of snaps in 2022. Conyers (Oklahoma in 2021) and Swinson (Missouri) are both big-bodied SEC transfers that can produce in the running and passing attacks. Swinson (6-foot-7, 255 pounds) will become a new red zone threat with the departure of Curtis Hodges.
The coaching staff also likes Bryce Pierre as a blocker, and he also earned a lot of face time in the Spring Showcase. It would not be surprising if ASU leans towards the two tight-end personnel look more often under Glenn Thomas.
Fullback: Case Hatch
The heartbeat of the offense and Lowman Trophy nominee, Hatch provides a spark on offense and special teams that is irreplaceable. With a program that has had as many moving parts as the Sun Devils have, it is nice to have consistent faces to bridge any gaps created in the portal era. Hatch is a crucial part of the program as a captain and a player.