Ideal scholarship roster number: 10Potential returning number: 8 (D.J. Foster, Cameron Smith (injured and will likely miss 2015 season), Gary Chambers, Frederick Gammage, Ellis Jefferson, Eric Lauderdale, Tyler Whiley, Jalen Harvey) Likely returning number: 8 Signees: 3 (Terrell Chatman, Tim White, Devin Lucien
After not signing a wide receiver on National Signing Day, Arizona State now has three additions who are all immediately available for the 2015 season, the latest of which is UCLA post-graduate transfer Devin Lucien.
This is a big development for the Sun Devils in the wake of the loses of Jaelen Strong to the NFL Draft and Cameron Smith for the what's expected to be the full season due to knee surgery.
Wide receiver, without question, was one of ASU's most uncertain position groups on the roster in the spring, with little in the way of consistency outside of senior running back convert D.J. Foster.
At a minimum, ASU needed to have more field stretching options, and Lucien provides that (as does White). In his three seasons at UCLA, Lucien wasn't a high volume target, but he was a legitimate big play threat and had a huge 20.8 yards per reception average as a junior and 18.8 yards per catch a sophomore.
As Lucien broadened out his skill set more in 2014 as a junior, he became a bit more of a possession receiver, but it's still the vertical shots that are a hallmark of his game, at least at UCLA.
At 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds, Lucien is well put together and has deceptive speed and range which he further advantages with consistently well executed hitch and go route, usually from the boundary side of the field. UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley is excellent at selling the pump fake on this throw, and when defenses are in relaxed man coverage at cornerback, it's a play that has resulted in a good number of Lucien's explosive plays.
In the ASU scheme, Lucien thinks he'll be able to seamlessly transition to the back shoulder fades into the boundary that were so prevalent the last two years with Jaelen Strong, but that remains to be determined. Lucien does make high point plays on the football and has a pretty big catch radius for his 6-foot-1 frame, so it is reasonable to think he'll have a chance to do some of these things. He's also shown a nice ability to run with the ball after the catch, but that's another sign that he's more of a big concept route runner than a traffic receiver.
Lucien has never been a big production player, so it's probably too much to ask of him to step into a new offensive system with personnel he's also never played with and be able to immediately be a go-to target. But he gives ASU an experienced option who can definitely keep defenses honest when coupled with the arm of senior quarterback Mike Bercovici.
Competitively, Lucien gives the Sun Devils more flexibility. Foster can still play into the boundary (9-receiver), where he practiced much of the spring, or he can play the field side (2-receiver), where he's probably best suited. Lucien also can play either spot, or even the 5-receiver, which is the bigger slot role in the ASU offense, though that he's as good of a fit for his skill set.
Senior Gary Chambers is the likely 5-receiver starter, which is a big blocking position and possession-type player, and we can be reasonably sure Foster will start at one of the two other positions. ASU has to find its third best receiver option, and that will determine where Foster lines up. That could be Lucien on either side of the field, junior college receiver Tim White, a 2-receiver, senior Freddie Gammage, a 2-receiver, Ellis Jefferson, a 9-receiver, junior Eric Lauderdale, who can play on either side, or perhaps even newcomer Terrell Chatman at the 9-receiver.
Jefferson is the most Strong-like -- though of course not nearly as capable at this stage -- and the player ASU would probably like to really seem emerge. He's shown flashes of doing so at times, including in the spring, but isn't able to be as consistent as he'll need to be in that regard. Gammage is a steady option on the field side, but one who is more of a possession type with a lower ceiling. White is a field stretching option on the field side. Lauderdale is still early in his skill development but has a higher potential than some other options due to his length and mobility.