With a large crop of young, talented wide receivers, Arizona State is well positioned for the future at the position.
However, the Sun Devils learned one veteran wideout won't be returning to the program next fall, as sources confirmed to SunDevilSource that Texas native Ellis Jefferson is set to graduate in May and transfer to another school for his final season of eligibility.
The 6-foot-5, 212-pound Jefferson spent four seasons with the program, redshirting in 2013 before posting 11 catches as a freshman in 2014 and 12 receptions as a sophomore in 2015.
Entering Jefferson's junior season, he enjoyed a strong spring practice slate, but was beaten out early in fall camp by true freshman N'Keal Harry, who went on to become a Freshman All-American and set an ASU freshman record for receptions with 58.
As a junior, Jefferson caught just two passes for 21 yards, earning most of his playing time as a blocker in ASU's "Sparky" formation.
Jefferson's departure leaves the Sun Devils with 11 scholarship players at wide receiver, including sophomore Jack Smith, who spent his freshman campaign as a quarterback.
The Sun Devils anticipate 2016 transfers John Humphrey Jr. and Ryan Newsome to make an immediate impact in 2017 after sitting out the 2016 season due to NCAA eligibility rules. Jefferson will not have to sit out the 2017 season, because he will earn his degree in May and be eligible to transfer to a school that offers a graduate degree that ASU does not offer.
With Jefferson out, the Sun Devils return Harry, Smith, Humphrey, and Newsome who are all sophomores, senior Cameron Smith, junior Jalen Harvey, sophomores Terrell Chatman and Kyle Williams, and redshirt freshmen Jeremy Smith and Frank Darby. The Sun Devils will also add three-star signee Curtis Hodges, a local product out of Mountain View (Mesa) High.
The Sun Devils will have their third different wide receivers coach in three seasons in 2017, as ASU replaced Jay Norvell with former Kansas offensive coordinator Rob Likens. Norvell departed to become the Nevada head coach in December, and Likens was chosen as Norvell's replacement. Prior to ASU hiring Norvell ahead of the 2016 season, former tight ends coach Del Alexander coached wide receivers at ASU from 2012-2015.