When Todd Graham took over for Dennis Erickson as the head coach of Arizona State he inherited a program that had stopped using a traditional tight end. Chris Coyle had previously been converted to wide receiver and was the only returning player in the program who could contribute at the tight end.
Midway through the fourth year of Graham’s regime the program's available personnel still doesn't allow its coaches to fully explore all of what's possible from the position in the scheme. Junior Kody Kohl has the ability to play tight end and 3-back, but has run hot and cold this year. His route running and blocking have improved but his hands have been inconsistent.
Junior college transfer Raymond Epps is an athletic but raw player who could play either tight end of 3-back. Just a sophomore, Epps has flashed some potential this year but has struggled at times with his assignments and not been able to be used in all of ASU's potential applications.
Third year sophomore Grant Martinez was expected to be a contributor this year but a leg injury has basically wiped out his 2015 season. It is hard to project his future right now.
True freshman Thomas Hudson had the size and strength to play as an in-line tight end this year but ASU chose to redshirt him so he could become more technically proficient and better learn the system.
Freshman Nick Ralston primarily practices with the 3-backs but is more of a traditional fullback.
True freshman JayJay Wilson has bounced between offense and defense in practices but this week has been working with the tight end group. He's got to lean out to maximize his athleticism but is an intriguing option. It appears that true freshman Jason Lewis will remain at running back, as he has been earning rave reviews inside the program for his scout team work.
Moving forward, ASU probably feels good about at least three of its players returning in 2016 but it's been demonstrated that depth at this position is especially important given the multiple tight end formations coaches would like to use, and also how players at the position have been frequently injured. Kohl and Martinez have each been seriously injured at needed surgeries and last year, De'Marieya Nelson was diminished due to injuries. Coyle also played through injuries. This is a position that requires blocking and physical play against bigger defensive players and a lot of opportunities to get hurt.
The Sun Devils have one committed prospect, Jared Bubak, who plays quarterback in high school, and is a 3-back prospect. A good athlete, his potential is similar to Coyle as more of a receiving threat.
ASU's healthy scholarship target number at the position group is six players entering a season, and it doesn't graduate anyone. Kohl, Epps, Martinez, Ralston, Hudson and Wilson give ASU six players and Bubak would make seven.
At one point the Sun Devils had another commit at the position group, Darel Middleton, but he could have easily been moved to defensive line or offensive tackle. He's unlikely to come back into the fold. Philadelphia recruit and Florida State commit Naseir Upshur could re-emerge as an option late but probably will not. Thaddeus Moss, the son of former NFL all-pro Randy Moss, reportedly has ASU in his top-3 but doesn't conduct media interviews. The 6-foot-4 235-pounder is viewed as more of a move tight end but does have the frame to play with his hand on the ground. He may officially visit ASU but that's unclear at this time.
ASU could just as easily be done at this position group and not take any others in the class besides Bubak.