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Roster outlook: How ASU's position groups are shaping up amid spring practices

With the help of new additions and improved players, the Sun Devils roster is more complete than it was last year


ASU redshirt freshman quarterback Jaden Rashada (5) prepares to pass the ball during the Sun Devil football spring practice at the Bill Kajikawa practice fields on Thursday, April 11, 2024, in Tempe.

What will ultimately separate Arizona State football from its 3–9 finish last year to a better result next season is the completeness of its roster. Kenny Dillingham's squad had a number of standouts in 2023, but there wasn't talent across the board. 

With the addition of new faces and the improvement of more experienced players, there's a chance that ASU's seemingly more complete roster can propel the team toward a more desirable result this season. 


ASU sophomore quarterback Jaden Rashada participated in spring practice on Tuesday after he was previously sidelined with a thumb injury on his throwing hand. 

He was expected to remain inactive during spring ball and was going to wait until he was in a good spot, head coach Kenny Dillingham said during an offseason press conference on March 21. Dillingham didn't address Rashada specifically, but said the team expects to have a few players back during some portions of practices. 

Rashada has been practicing alongside redshirt senior Trenton Bourguet and redshirt freshman Sam Leavitt, as well as freshman walk-on Navi Bruzon, within the quarterback carousel.  

Among them, Leavitt has shown off during spring ball by displaying improved accuracy, especially during last week's practices. 

"(Leavitt's) getting better, and he's still a freshman," Dillingham said. "He's out here, and he's growing." 

The Sun Devils have yet to see Rashada consistently perform for the team after he was sidelined two games into his first season with a knee injury. He made an appearance during the Territorial Cup but was expected to be absent from most spring drills after his hand injury.  

Offensive Skill Players

Versatility shines when it comes to ASU's skill-position players. At running back, senior Cam Skattebo's power and senior George Hart III's explosiveness have provided an effective contrast in the backfield, while four-star freshman Jayden Fortier's receiving and 280-pound redshirt junior Markeston Douglas' blocking complement the tight end room. 

Redshirt senior wide receiver Troy Omiere has made highlight plays during multiple practices, whereas graduate student Melquan Stovall has consistently gotten separation from the slot. In addition, redshirt senior Elijhah Badger and redshirt senior Xavier Guillory are proven targets on offense. 

Although spring ball is just jumpstarting this season, Omeire is already praising the chemistry and work ethic among members of the offense, starting with its leaders. 

"Trenton, Sam, Navi, and J5, I love all of them," Omeire said. "We all make sure to get our reps in." 

Offensive and Defensive Lines

According to Dillingham, the offensive line has stood out on the practice field, especially from a run-blocking perspective. Conversely, the Sun Devil defensive line that boasts senior Elijah O'Neal, redshirt senior Prince Dorbah, and sophomore C.J. Fite needs to get better at defending the run. 

"The offensive line went out there, and we ran the damn ball," Dillingham said. "It was quite evident. And defense, on the contrary, we've got to stop the damn run. The challenge was that I didn't think the energy level was there from the defense, especially from the front-four early."

The leader of the offensive line is redshirt senior Leif Fautanu

"Leif is the veteran leader of that group," Dillingham said. "I had him select an award to be representative of what a Sun Devil is. He's a great person; he's a hard worker; he's smart; he's highly academic; he's tough; he's reliable — he's so many things that you want your entire football team to be. For him to be the focal point of our offensive line is a great starting point from a leadership standpoint."

Besides the recent growing pains from the defensive line, ASU's defense doesn't appear to have any glaring weaknesses. That's mainly because of their variety of experience levels. 

"We have some experienced guys on defense that we brought in from the portal. We have younger guys who are going into their second year here, and then we have older guys who are going into their second year here," defensive coordinator Brian Ward said.


At the second level, Ward said that the team's linebackers are still in their "50 First Dates mode." After the loss of veteran presence Tre Brown, the group, headlined by the additions of redshirt junior Zyrus Fiaseu, junior Jordan Crook, and junior Keyshaun Elliott, is still growing. 

"There's still brand new things they're trying to learn," Ward said. "But once the terminology gets set, you've seen those guys flash already; They made some plays here in these first five practices. I'm excited to see how they continue to progress."

Defensive Backs

ASU's coverage unit, comprised of new faces and improved defensive backs, appears particularly enticing this spring due to its growth potential. 

Ward is convinced that ASU's freshman defensive backs, including Rodney Bimage Jr., Chris Johnson II, and Tony-Louis Nkuba, will blossom as they continue to work. 

"Everyone's really talented in that defensive back group," Dillingham said. "You can see them move during one-on-ones. Rodney is so twitchy when he gets out of his brakes, Chris is so long, and Tony's a combination of both that length and twitching."

Ward also said that sophomore Keith Abney II is the smartest player on the defense despite only being a second-year player and Dillingham made sure to mention that redshirt freshman Montana Warren is not making rookie mistakes.

The Sun Devils have bolstered their roster from last year. The team's younger players have grown, and there's more talent, but whether 2024 will be ASU's breakout season remains unknown. 

But one thing's for sure — this group is more together than they were last year. Dillingham said the biggest surprise thus far in spring practices has been the chemistry of the team. That can breed the completeness that's necessary to win in the Big 12. 

"When you go in the locker room, guys are hanging out and going out together," Dillingham said. "Clayton Smith got baptized last Friday, and four different guys, three of which are brand new players, are there. That's the stuff that's hard to get, but if you get it, they're gonna play together, and we're gonna be a better football team."

Edited by Alfred Smith III, Alysa Horton and Grace Copperthite.

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