Player Capsule: Renell Wren
Position: Defensive Tackle
Weight: 290 pounds
2015 season quick review: Wren played in four games last season as a redshirt freshman and had one tackle, when went for a loss.
ASU head sports performance coach Shawn Griswold on Wren: "Renell Wren is still pretty young and an absolute freak in [the weight room]. Kids will tell him, once it clicks (on the football field) he'll be unstoppable. But he hasn't played much football. As soon as it does he'll be able to put it together and be a great player. That's why we coach. Not everybody can come in and play at a high level as a freshman."
SunDevilSource.com analysis (06/2016): Visually, Wren has the appearance of being an absolute physical specimen. He's huge-framed and long and yet has no excess weight even at 290-plus pounds. Everyone wants to have football players who look like Wren. He has an NFL defensive lineman body type. He's also one of the strongest players on the ASU roster according to Shawn Griswold, the program's head strength coach. All of this though has yet to translate to the football field with any real consistency.
Wren had just one tackle in four games last season and is still working to prove to coaches that he's ready to handle a greater role on the defensive line this fall. There are a lot of areas in which he stands to improve, particularly with regard to pad level and using his hands effectively. Being so tall and long is an advantage if used properly but can be a disadvantage until that time. Wren tends to provide too much blockable surface area to offensive linemen and has to develop a better sense of how to keep offensive linemen from getting their hands located on him where they're comfortable and can manage his length more effectively.
Becoming quicker and more violent with his hands and understanding how and when to coordinate his movements will be an important part of Wren's development. He's also got to be better at violently disengaging from lock up situations. Wren's a hard guy to move off his anchor and at this point in time uses his length better as a two-gap read and recognition player. He gets his hands up to bat down throws and can make reach plays with his long arms on running backs in his lane. But this is a very aggressive one-gap scheme and one that defenders like to play in as a result. What it means, however, is that more dynamic playmaking will have to be demonstrated for Wren to get the bounty of reps he no doubt hopes for. Playing with a more consistently higher revving motor is one thing that should help. The physical tools are there.
(07/2015): One of ASU's best looking players from a physique-standpoint, Wren is angular and long, with a big frame and almost no bad weight on a 6-foot-5, 285 pound frame. He improved quite noticeably during his redshirt year, getting a good handle on his base set up and not popping up as vertically off the snap, which is leverage sapping. He'll have to continue that trend this year and start to better coordinate use of his long arms with the rest of his body in order to give linemen problems with holding their ground. If he can do all that and be aggressive and precise with his feet while being assignment sound, he's got a chance to become one of the team's best defensive linemen over the long run. Playing with a great motor is also key, as Wren's energy has ebbed at times.
Projected depth chart status: Success for Wren this season would be to put himself into a four man rotation at defensive tackle along with starters Viliami Latu and Tashon Smallwood and talented redshirt freshman backup George Lea. Wren has played all three defensive line positions but it probably best suited for the 1-technique tackle spot in a way that is somewhat similar to Demetrius Cherry, who was a senior last season for the Sun Devils. If Wren can get a lot of reserve reps he'll be well positioned to play even more in 2017 as a junior when Latu has departed the program.