With the beginning of fall camp just a couple of weeks away, it’s time to get prepped for the upcoming season. The Sun Devils lost seven starters on offense and five starters on defense to graduation from the 2015 team, so there will be a lot of new names on the 2016 depth chart. Here’s a guide to help you get a grasp on all of the position battles that will be occurring during pre-season practice starting Tuesday, Aug. 2.
The ASU offense returns five starters, if you count Cameron Smith, so there’s going to be a lot happening here. Four of five members of the starting offensive line are gone, as are Devin Lucien, DJ Foster, and Mike Bercovici.
Returning starter: none
Other returning players: Manny Wilkins, Brady White, Bryce Perkins
Newcomer: Dillon Sterling-Cole
At Pac-12 Media Days, heads coach Todd Graham would not give any indication as to who leads the competition heading into the fall. Wilkins, White and Perkins all received first-team reps in the spring, and will again to start fall practice. My gut tells me that Manny Wilkins has a slight lead over Brady White, with Perkins lagging a little farther behind. However, remember that the 2012 job was won by the player who was in third position at the end of spring practice. Sterling-Cole will be given the opportunity to compete for the starting job, but will probably end up redshirting.
Returning starters: Demario Richard, Kalen Ballage
Other returning players: Nick Ralston, Jason Lewis, Gump Hayes, Jacom Brimhall
Newcomer: Tre Turner
This is the most settled position group on offense, with Richard and Ballage well established as the co-starters. Lewis and Ralston are the two that are most likely to work their way into the rotation after that, but, barring injury, there won’t be a significant number of carries available to any backup.
Returning starters: Tim White, Cameron Smith
Other returning players: Ellis Jefferson, Terrell Chatman, Jalen Harvey, Frederick Gammage, Ryan Jenkins
Newcomers: N’Keal Harry, Kyle Williams, Jeremy Smith, Jack Smith, Frank Darby
White and Cameron Smith are the likely starters at the H and Z positions, respectively (X and Z are the outside receivers, H is the slot), and are solid PAC-12 level receivers. Jefferson is currently listed as the starter and the X, but will be challenged by Chatman and Harry. Harvey, who got into the WR rotation late last season after recovering from an injury, is not likely to be displaced, probably backing up Smith, with Gammage, Jenkins (the transfer from Tennessee) and Williams competing to back up White in the slot.
Returning starter: Kody Kohl
Other returning players: Raymond Epps, Jay Jay Wilson, Grant Martinez, Tommy Hudson
Newcomer: Jared Bubak
Kohl is entrenched as the starter here, and was productive last season, despite some drops in key situations. Epps and Wilson will be competing to get reps behind him. Both have the potential to be playmakers in the passing game. Hudson could see some time in run-blocking situations.
Returning starter: Evan Goodman
Other returning players: Sam Jones, Stephon McCray, Tyler McClure, Quinn Bailey, Zach Robertson, Stephen Miller, Connor Humphreys, Cade Cote, Mason Walter, Dillon Faamatu, Corey Smith
Newcomers: Tyson Rising, AJ McCollum, Cohl Cabral, Alex Lasoya
Although Goodman is the only returning starter, McCray and Jones have starting experience, and are likely to join Goodman in the starting five; McCray at center or right guard, and Jones at left guard. Bailey is currently penciled in at right tackle, but could be challenged by Robertson or Miller. McClure was the first team center during much of the spring, and will continue to compete for that position, along with McCollum. Robertson could also challenge for the starting right guard position. While there will be four new starters on the line in 2016, the long-term future looks bright, with several players showing significant potential on the depth chart, most notably Jones, Robertson and Miller.