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May the best man win: ASU quarterbacks battling for starting role in spring ball

Five different ASU football quarterbacks are vying for the top spot and have the chance to show their mettle to new head coach Kenny Dillingham


From left to right, ASU freshman quarterback Jaden Rashada, redshirt senior quarterback Trenton Bourguet, and redshirt junior quarterback Daylin McLemore.

There are many questions surrounding ASU football under the new regime led by head coach Kenny Dillingham. How will Dillingham do in his first year? How will all the new players adjust? Is getting to a bowl game possible this season? 

However, one of the biggest questions two and a half weeks into spring practice has been who will start at quarterback. Will it be senior Trenton Bourguet, the backup turned starter last season? Could it be redshirt sophomore Drew Pyne, a high-profile transfer who joined from Notre Dame over the offseason? 

Maybe we'll see freshman Jaden Rashada, an exceedingly touted recruit who was a top 10 quarterback in his high school class nationally. There's also no reason to count out BYU transfer and former Chandler High School quarterback Jacob Conover or freshman Bennett Meredith, who redshirted last season.

Dillingham expressed that all of the quarterbacks are on an equal playing field since they all saw the playbook simultaneously without prior knowledge.

Another thing Dillingham has done to guarantee that all his guys get an equal opportunity is splitting the quarterbacks and the entire team into two groups — the maroon and gold teams. The two sides go against each other toward the end of every practice.

"I think the competition is great. We're all pushing each other to be better," Bourguet said. "Having two groups allows everybody to get reps; there are not a lot of people just watching and standing around, so it allows everybody to get an opportunity to show the coaches what they can do."

Bourguet and Pyne are taking the most first-team reps out of anyone else, with Bourguet being the slight favorite to start over Pyne. Rashada has also taken first-team reps, but the freshman has had a learning curve to overcome since he arrived in Tempe. 

"The first week, I was a little overwhelmed," Rashada said. "Everything was moving fast, and I was taking in a lot of information, but after the first week, I got used to it, and I got the ball moving. I've been adjusting pretty well." 

As of right now, Rashada doesn't seem too likely to see the field this season, as he's a true freshman out of high school. Don't be surprised if he has been redshirted for the upcoming season by the end of spring to get some experience before starting.

Rashada committed to ASU at the beginning of February after being released from the University of Florida when a $13.5 million NIL deal with a collective in Gainsville fell through.

READ MORE: Jaden Rashada, other new players highlight exciting start to Dillingham era

Bourguet and Pyne have the most collegiate experience out of the bunch, which has shown so far in spring ball. Bourguet was one of the few brights spots on last season's Sun Devil squad that went 3-9, while Pyne started 10 games for the 9-4 Fighting Irish. During his final season at Notre Dame, he threw for over 2,000 yards with 22 touchdowns and six interceptions. He was ranked 20th in the nation in quarterback efficiency after he completed 64.6% of his throws in 2022-23.

After the 2022 season ended, Pyne entered the transfer portal the day it opened, Dec. 5. Exactly two weeks later, Pyne announced on Twitter that he committed to play in Tempe. 

The reason he committed so quickly? He fell in love with the program. 

"I love everyone here. The coaches have been great," Pyne said. "I wake up every day, and I enjoy driving to the facility. I truly appreciate looking around and seeing the cactuses and the mountains. It's beautiful. I'm happy to be here." 

Like Pyne, Conover entered the portal right when it opened, but his decision came even quicker. Two days after entering, he committed to play at ASU. 

Conover is an outlier in the quarterback room. The Chandler native signed his letter of intent with BYU in 2018 but didn't join the Cougars until 2020 after going on a 15-month mission with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to Asuncion, Paraguay. In two seasons with the Cougars, he only played five games and only threw 11 combined passes in all the games.

He's considered a Chandler High School football legend after leading the Wolves to three straight 6A state titles while finishing with over 10,000 passing yards in his tenure. A significant factor for his commitment was getting on the same sideline with ASU running backs coach Shaun Aguano again, who was Conover's head coach at Chandler. 

Conover already knew Dillingham from his previous recruitment process coming out of high school when the current head coach was the offensive coordinator at Memphis and wanted to recruit him. Since returning to his home state, Conover has enjoyed getting to know all his teammates and coaches. 

"We're creating a new family," Conover said. "As a team, in general, there are a lot of accepting personalities. A lot of people have come in with this humility just to build and work. It's been an awesome transition."

Meredith has also embraced this family tradition and has enjoyed the competition with his teammates so far. The freshman has also taken a few first-team reps and adds another layer to an already complicated decision that will have to be made by the coaching staff eventually. 

"It's a very healthy competition," Meredith said. "Everyone wants to be the guy. Everyone's coming in early. Everyone wants to be taking the snaps in the fall, but ultimately, it'll be one of us."

Whoever it is, they all have an equal shot, from the start of spring ball until the home and season opener on Aug. 31 against Southern Utah. 

Until then, ASU's annual spring game is on April 15.

Edited by Walker Smith, Reagan Priest and Grace Copperthite.

Reach the reporter at and follow @vdeangelis2024 on Twitter.

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Vinny DeangelisSports Reporter

Vincent Deangelis is a full-time reporter for the sports department at The State Press. He has previously worked for Arizona PBS and 

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