Fall Arrivals: Where Do They Fit?

With spring practice come and gone, now is a fitting time to discuss potential depth chart openings and position battles going into fall camp and the regular season. Devils Digest's Joe Healey analyzes where each fall arrival of ASU's 2013 signing class fits in with the current depth chart.

Wide Receiver

Post-Spring Depth Chart

XWR – Kevin Ozier (Sr.)/Alonzo Agwuenu (Sr.)/Jordan Gaston*

YWR – Gary Chambers (So.)/Blake Covey (So.)*

ZWR – Richard Smith (So.)/Frederick Gammage (RS-Fr.)*/Daniel Groebner

(So.)*/Byron Thomas*

*-Walk-on

Fall Arrivals

Ellis Jefferson

Ronald Lewis

Joseph Morris

Cameron Smith

Jaelen Strong

In all, the spring reinforced the belief that ASU is in major need of upgrades at wide receiver, both in quantity and quality. While Richard Smith showed the skill set to be a difference maker this year and beyond and Kevin Ozier remained a somewhat viable starting option, the third starting spot is still a big question mark as Alonzo Agwuenu relinquished his starting role to Gary Chambers. Beyond those four, ASU had zero scholarship wide receivers this spring, though walk-on Frederick Gammage might have earned an on-field role for 2013 with his efforts.

In the fall, ASU expects to welcome five new scholarship wide receivers to the roster and as ridiculous as it seems to discuss, all five have a possible shot at seeing action in 2013—both a statement favoring the group's collective skill level and a mark of despair with the current wide receiver depth.

Ellis Jefferson comes to ASU and brings a big, physical presence and has drawn comparisons to the likes of Gerell Robinson due to his physical stature and style of play. However, Jefferson isn't the only big-bodied wide receiver signee of the 2013 class, so he can't simply bank on physical traits in hopes of bypassing a redshirt season. Of all the incoming wide receivers, Jefferson seems to be the most likely to redshirt.

On signing day, Todd Graham loosely compared Ronald Lewis to D.J. Foster as a versatile threat both as a runner and receiver, a trait that can propel him into immediate action. Lewis also was a standout return man in high school, giving him special teams appeal as well.

With the scarce number of scholarship wide receivers on the spring roster, the need for JUCO transfers Joseph Morris (pictured) and Jaelen Strong to come in and contribute is undeniable. Both players should see substantial playing time—potentially as starters—especially Strong, one of the nation's elite junior college receivers last year. Strong's first hurdle to clear is ensuring he completes the requisite academic work to transfer this fall. Morris should be able to enter the two-deep at wide receiver in any event, and could be a starting candidate should Strong not meet academic requirements.

Cameron Smith brings a well-balanced skill set and could see action as a backup receiver in year one of his Sun Devil career. Smith was productive at the high school level and also brings solid speed to ASU, so his could be a valued addition this fall.

In all, seemingly only Richard Smith's starting position appears to be concretely safe at this point. Ozier has the greatest amount of playing experience, but his contributions tapered tremendously over the final month or so of last season. Agwuenu and Chambers are talented receivers, but haven't proven nearly enough to be considered at insurmountable competition for the fall arrivals. Depth is an even greater concern, as no receiver beside Smith, Ozier and Agwuenu has caught a pass in a Sun Devil uniform.

2013 Predictions

Strong – Starter

Morris – Possible Starter/Top Reserve

Lewis – Likely Reserve

Smith – Likely Reserve

Jefferson – Likely Redshirt

Tight End/3-Back

Post-Spring Depth Chart

TE – Darwin Rogers (Sr.)/Kody Kohl (RS-Fr.)/Alex Bykovskiy (So.)*/Chris Hughes*

3-Back – Chris Coyle (Sr.)/Billy Davis (So.)*

*-Walk-on

Fall Arrivals

Grant Martinez

De'Marieya Nelson

Nelson is a unique talent and the coaching staff likely will be creative in integrating him into the offense, as he isn't the traditional line of scrimmage type player like Darwin Rogers and it's unreasonable to expect him to unseat record-setter Chris Coyle.

Nelson's athleticism, however, cannot be denied and it's plausible to think that several offensive packages will be designed to put Coyle and Nelson on the field at the same time. Of course, this is assuming Nelson can avoid or at least limit the early and natural learning curves most fall junior college transfers face. Above all, there's a definite need for a solid reserve three-back behind Coyle as the final spring depth chart had walk-on Billy Davis as the second-stringer at the position.

Martinez (pictured) brings impressive combination of size and athleticism and could etch out a role as a true freshman. With only two players returning to the tight end/three-back positions with game day experience, depth positions are definitely up for grabs and Martinez has the skill set to capitalize on such an opportunity.

2013 Predictions

Nelson – Top Reserve (Three-back)

Martinez – Reserve (Tight End)

Offensive Line

Post-Spring Depth Chart

LT – Evan Finkenberg (Sr.)/Evan Goodman (So.)

LG – Sil Ajawara (Jr.)/Devin Goodman (So.)/Billy McGehee (So.)

C – Kody Koebensky (Sr.)/Nick Kelly (So.)/Stephon McCray (RS-Fr.)

RG – Vi Teofilo (So.)/Christian Westerman (So.)#

RT – Jamil Douglas (Jr.)/Tyler Sulka (Jr.)/Chip Sarafin (Jr.)*

*-Walk-on

#-Likely will have to sit out 2013 season

Fall Arrival

Jack Powers (OT)

ASU is in more than adequate shape at offensive tackle in terms of starting options and scholarship depth, so Powers is a virtual guarantee to redshirt in 2013.

2013 Prediction

Powers – Redshirt

Defensive Line

Post-Spring Depth Chart

Tackle – Jaxon Hood (So.)/Sean O'Grady (So.)/Mo Latu (So.)/Brayden Gazlay (Fr.)*

Nose – Will Sutton (Sr.)/Jake Sheffield (Sr.)

End – Gannon Conway (Sr.)/Davon Coleman (Sr.)/Junior Onyeali (Sr.)/Kisima Jagne (Fr.)

*-Walk-on

Fall Arrivals

Demetrius Cherry (Nose)

Marcus Hardison (End)

Corey Smith (Nose)

Last season proved that as valuable as top-end talent is along the defensive line, a team can be tremendously vulnerable if the superstars aren't complemented by capable reserves.

ASU's 2013 signing class did an excellent job of addressing both immediate and long-term needs, highlighted by a pair of top-notch junior college defensive linemen.

Demetrius Cherry, pegged by Coach Graham on signing day to be able to play virtually any of ASU's three line positions, brings much-needed versatility to the line. Initially, he is expected to compete for time at nose tackle but can shift around if needed. Cherry presumes to be a candidate to be a top reserve in 2013 as it will be difficult to unseat the current starters but his presence will still be tremendously valuable for depth purposes.

One of the most heavily pursued junior college recruits last year, Marcus Hardison (pictured) is expected to be an impact contributor from day one for the Sun Devils. Though the end position includes three seniors with ample game experience, Hardison figures to add more fuel to the position's competitive fire. Both Davon Coleman and Junior Onyeali have extensive experience and Gannon Conway exited spring drills as the first-stringer at the position, but it should not be considered a shock if as the season progresses Hardison unseats everyone at starting defensive end.

Rounding out the fall newcomers is Corey Smith, a lineman with an incredible frame and like Cherry, the ability to play multiple positions. Smith is expected to begin his ASU career inside and presumes to be a fringe reserve/redshirt candidate this year with the likes of Jake Sheffield, Mo Latu, Sean O'Grady and Cherry as other options at the tackle and nose positions.

2013 Predictions

Hardison – Starter/Top Reserve (End)

Cherry – Top Reserve (Nose)

Smith – Possible Reserve/Redshirt (Nose)

Linebacker

Post-Spring Depth Chart

SPUR– Chris Young (Sr.) OR Anthony Jones (Sr.)/Dwain Bradshaw (Sr.)*/Brandon Matthews (Sr.)*/Andres Garcia (Sr.)*

SAM – Steffon Martin (Sr.)/Salamo Fiso (RS-Fr.)/Lucas Revelle (Fr.)*

DEVIL– Carl Bradford (Jr.)/Kipeli Koniseti (Sr.) OR Chans Cox (Fr.)/Jason Franklin (So.)*

WILL – Chris Young (Sr.) OR Grandville Taylor (Sr.)/Matthew Rowe (RS-Fr.) OR Carlos Mendoza (RS-Fr.)/Jordan Henderson*

*-Walk-on

Fall Arrivals

Eriquel Florence (SAM)

Alani Latu (WILL)

Viliami Latu (SAM)

Antonio Longino (WILL)

The Sun Devil coaching staff did an excellent job with linebacker recruiting for the 2013 class, an achievement both helpful for immediate effect as well as future impact.

Replacing Brandon Magee at the WILL position has created a potential shuffle with this group as Chris Young is a possibility to relocate from his SPUR position. If Young moves to WILL, senior Anthony Jones should be first in line to take his place at SPUR, although he could also be battling with Carlos Mendoza.

If Young stays at the SPUR position, several candidates will compete at WILL, likely including incoming fall junior college transfer Antonio Longino (pictured), who boasts the various skills needed to thrive at the position and is expected to challenge for substantial playing time this fall.

In recruiting interviews, junior college transfer Eriquel Florence mentioned ASU is primarily positioning him for the SAM linebacker role, currently featuring Steffon Martin as starter. Martin is expected to hold on to his first-team role, but Florence can use his college playing experience to compete for playing time as a primary reserve.

Tabbed as a prototype inside linebacker, Viliami Latu is one of ASU's most prominent high school signees of the 2013 class. He has the talent to play right away, however he will have to battle players such as Salamo Fiso and fellow class member Eriquel Florence for reps at SAM in the fall.

Latu's twin brother, Alani, reportedly will begin his career at the WILL position. None of the other three linebacker positions is as difficult to predict right now as is the WILL spot, so Alani Latu will be one of a host of options vying for playing time in the fall. However, the opportunity he has is one present to multiple other combatants, so Latu's prospects for 2013 carry a variety of possible outcomes.

2013 Predictions

Longino – Starter or Top Reserve (WILL)

Florence – Top Reserve (SAM)

V. Latu – Possible Reserve (SAM)

A.Latu – Possible Reserve /Redshirt (WILL)

Defensive Back

Post-Spring Depth Chart

BC – Osahon Irabor (Sr.)/Rashad Wadood (So.) OR Marlon Pollard (Sr.)

FC – Robert Nelson (Sr.)/Rashad Wadood (So.) OR Lloyd Carrington (Jr.)

FS – Viliami Moeakiola (RS-Fr.)/Ezekiel Bishop (So.)/Luke Williams (So.)/Marcus Mehlhaf-Brown (Jr.)*

BS – Alden Darby (Sr.)/Shane McCullen (Sr.) OR Viliami Moeakiola (RS-Fr.)/Jordan Simone (Sr.)*

*-Walk-on

Fall Arrivals

Marcus Ball (FS)

William Earley (CB)

James Johnson (FS)

Solomon Means (CB)

Jayme Otomewo (BS)

Damarious Randall (CB or FS)

At cornerback, the spring competition was fierce as Robert Nelson, Rashad Wadood, Lloyd Carrington and Marlon Pollard fought valiantly for meaningful practice reps opposite Osahon Irabor.

The spring competition likely will have an impact on fall arrivals, in this case players including William Earley, Solomon Means and Damarious Randall (pictured).

With budding depth at cornerback, Earley may well be slated for a redshirt season as a true freshman contributor is not mandatory at the position. Junior college transfer Means comes to ASU with three years to play three, so he will likely be fitted for a third-team role this year and special teams' duty in 2013. However, any experience he gets will be valuable as three of ASU's top five cornerbacks will be seniors in 2013.

Randall is a definite wildcard in the secondary, as he can compete either at safety (likely field safety) or at cornerback. His experience is primarily at cornerback, but the greater need figures to be at safety so chances are that is where he ultimately lands. In any event, the playmaking ball-hawk figures to have a prominent role in 2013 as a possible starter.

Three high school safeties will join the roster in the fall in Marcus Ball, James Johnson and Jayme Otomewo. Ball comes to ASU as one of the key figures of the 2013 class, making him a viable option for extensive playing time as a true freshman. Depending on the play of athletes such as Viliami Moeakiola, Ezekiel Bishop and perhaps Damarious Randall, Ball could be in the thick of competition to start at field safety this year.

Johnson also is poised to join the squad as a field safety, and with the aforementioned depth at the position he could be a reserve/special teams player or redshirt candidate.

Otomewo is slated to begin his ASU career as a boundary safety, a position locked up by team leader Alden Darby. Behind Darby, senior Shane McCullen and Moeakiola will compete for time, challenging Otomewo's intention to bypass a redshirt year.

2013 Predictions

Randall – Starter or Top Reserve (FS/CB)

Ball – Starter or Top Reserve (FS)

Means - Reserve (CB)

Johnson – Reserve/Redshirt (FS)

Earley – Likely Redshirt (CB)

Otomewo – Likely Redshirt (BS)

Kicker/Punter

Post-Spring Depth Chart

KO – Alex Garoutte (Jr.)

PAT – Alex Garoutte (Jr.)

FG – Jon Mora (Jr.)*/Parker Flynn (Jr.)*

P – Dom Vizarre (Jr.)*/Sean Conaway (So.)*

*-Walk-on

Fall Arrivals

Zane Gonzalez (K)

Matt Haack (P)

ASU's issues at placekicker are well-chronicled and nothing was done this spring to dissolve those concerns. Head coach Todd Graham is all-too-aware of this problem, prompting him to sign high school kicker Zane Gonzalez.

Gonzalez not only comes to ASU to play a position of dire need, but has an impressive background to boot (pun intended). With ASU's highly-competitive schedule in 2013, the kicking game could prove to be a major difference-maker, so improved consistency at the position is a must even if that means starting a true freshman.

Garoutte and Mora have extensive game experience but have also generally lack the confidence and consistency ASU needs out of its placekicker moving forward. He could however continue to be designated as the team's kickoff role, since the coaches prefer to have a separation of duties between than role and field goal kicker.

Admittedly, Mora was a mild surprise down the stretch of the 2012 season as he connected on four of his final five attempts, but more legitimate competition at the position is a must.

Predicting Haack's (pictured) role in 2013 is simple arithmetic; All-Pac-12 punter Josh Hubner wrapped up his Sun Devil career in 2012 and no other scholarship (or otherwise experienced) punters exist on the roster. Though Dom Vizarre impressed during the spring game, Haack is fully expected to take control of the punter role upon his arrival this fall.

2013 Predictions

Gonzalez – Starter (K)

Haack – Starter (P)


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