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ASU running backs take center stage during the first week of spring ball

After sitting behind Rachaad White and Deamonte Trayanum, Daniyel Ngata is ready to take on a larger role on the Sun Devils' running squad

Daniyel ngata 2.jpg

ASU freshman running back Daniyel Ngata (4) catches the ball during practice on Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020, in Tempe.

ASU football has begun its preparation for the 2022 football campaign with spring practices that started last week. 

The Sun Devils will be without last year's top two running backs, DeaMonte Trayanum and Rachaad White. The Sun Devils added a couple of new players to fill that void in their run-heavy offense.

"I hope they run the ball 80% of the time," running backs coach Shaun Aguano said. "We welcome that load, I know it's going to have to be more balanced from under the saddle with our new quarterbacks and some play-action. But, I think from a foundational standpoint it starts with the run, and hopefully, we'll be productive in that."

The depth chart starts with redshirt freshman Daniyel Ngata who despite sitting under Traynum and White for the majority of the season, showed potential in his playing time. In 2021, Ngata rushed for 309 yards and four touchdowns in 56 attempts while averaging 5.5 yards per carry.

"Now that they are gone, I have to take that heavy role of carrying the ball so that toll is going to be heavier," Ngata said. "I just have to take care of my body even more seriously. It's all on me now."

The Sun Devils are excited to bring Xazavian Valladay, a graduate student transfer from the University of Wyoming, to their running back corps. During his tenure at Wyoming, Valladay rushed for 3,274 yards, which is the second-most in program history.

"I just wanted to come up to a better level, play against the nation's best guys and get better looks," Valladay said. "I like competing so wherever the best competition is, you'll see me there competing and having fun."

Freshman Tevin White is another intriguing name. White was a four-star recruit and was ranked the No. 12 running back nationally coming out of North Stafford. He was recruited by the reigning national champion, Georgia, before deciding on ASU.

"Hopefully Tevin will come along," Aguano said. "I think from a physical standpoint, he may take one or two years, he is still a little baby but I'm confident he will be productive as well."

The final piece is freshman George Hart III who despite not being able to crack the field last season, has a year of experience under his belt with the Sun Devils' program.

"George Hart is our bright guy," Aguano said. "He always does things right. I think he'll be there ready to go as well." 

Despite the competition, the group has bonded in the locker room. 

"I feel like the running back room is close and it's really genuine," Valladay said. "I feel it, the atmosphere has been different so it's been pretty good."

The competition will continue through the summer and into training camp.

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