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Sun Devils Ready for Receiving Corps to Hit Next Level

ASU WR coach Bobby Wade spoke with reporters and gave a vote of confidence for his receivers room.

TEMPE -- Arizona State wide receivers coach Bobby Wade knows what it's like to adapt to new situations as a receiver. Wade entered the NFL as a fifth-round pick and played for five different teams during a career that spanned over eight seasons. 

So perhaps nobody may be better equipped to help ASU's receiving corps adjust to a new offense under coordinator Glenn Thomas than Wade, who returns a majority of his position group. 

"It's difficult, you know? I really feel for them having played the position and playing multiple positions within the position. You really got to spend the time (studying and practicing). That's really the only way you can have a complete understanding about it," Wade told reporters. 

"They really got to spend the time (mastering the offense), they've got to study and that's difficult for them and where they're at in their lives and what they got going on in school and everything else outside. But you got to find a way to really focus when we're on the field on what we're trying to get done. Lining up is, Coach Herm (Edwards) always harps on it, it's the most important thing. If you don't line up you don't got a play. Procedural penalties before the play that are non-competitive are things we got to eliminate. And it's just concentration, continuing to focus and study, and repetition. 

"The more that we rep it, the better they'll get at it and they'll find their niche within it. I think they'll settle down and be much more comfortable."

The receivers will also be adjusting to a new starting quarterback after the departure of Jayden Daniels. The open competition at quarterback that features Trenton Bourguet and Paul Tyson as the top candidates duking it out could make it difficult for receivers to mesh and find themselves on the same page as their passer.

When asked how not having an established starting quarterback could impact the receivers, Wade said his guys needed to be ready regardless of the situation.

"In our room, we focus on our room," he said. "We really never let the receivers ever really get into thinking about who's taking snaps and which guy's taking snaps at quarterback. For us, it's about being diligent and taking care of our details and handling our responsibilities. Whether you're playing with the starter who's started forever or a guy who just walked in, we still need to make ourselves available to the quarterback.

"In order to do that, we got to be diligent about discipline, alignment, assignment and technique. And then at the end of the day, we need to find a way to make a play. When the quarterback throws us the ball, regardless of who it is, we got to have the mentality that it's our ball, and we got to attack the football. Whether it's 9 (Tyson) or 16 (Bourguet) or whoever is back there, you know, we got to figure it out. We got to be able to gain maximum separation, put it on film and be consistent so when they're watching film, they can know what to expect from us."

Redshirt sophomore Elijah Badger caught the eye of many Arizona State fans when he was on the field last season, although his appearances were rare. Badger is seen as a potentially dynamic playmaker that could be a chess piece for ASU's offense. 

Through two full weeks of spring practice, Wade said Badger has shown some of the most improvement out of the bunch.

"Probably Badger, I think that him starting in a position and taking multiple reps with the ones, not only working in the three-receiver set with Ricky (Pearsall) on the field in the inside but also in some two-receiver set stuff, I think I've really challenged him to try to be a pro in a way. We use that more just being very studious in the classroom and carrying himself a certain type of way," said Wade. 

"I don't think the football stuff is as important as it is to just the character things that we're trying to make sure that we push him to be great at, like we do all our boys on the roster. How you act away from football will directly correlate to how you perform on the field; we truly do believe that. So not only the challenges on the field, but also off the field (are important), just being on time, making sure you're where you need to be and carrying yourself with the respect that you need to carry yourself."

When it comes to leadership, Pearsall has stepped up on and off the field.

In an offense that primarily utilized running back Rachaad White and the rest of ASU's rushing attack, Pearsall paced the team in receptions (48), yards (580) and receiving touchdowns (4). He had 15 more receptions than Sun Devils receiver LV Bunkley-Shelton, who was the next-highest receiver in the category.

Wade believes Pearsall can handle whatever duties asked of him at a high level.

"I think Ricky is still climbing," Wade said. "I think he's far from reaching his peak. I think a lot of it has to do with his mentality each week and how he prepares and he does a great job at that. We're gonna do a great job of moving him around. I think that he's a guy that can handle the multiple snaps in multiple positions. I think he's a physical player. I think he's mentally tough and we'll rely on him to make a lot of plays. 

"With that said, the rest of the room understands exactly the pressure that we're putting on them right now. For us not bringing in any transfers in the spring was really letting them know that: A, we believe in the group that we have, and B, they're going to be challenging each other. Somebody's going to have to start to step up, start to separate and understand that if we had to play tomorrow, this is all we got. There's no magical men coming in here that are going to change the outlook of the offense. 

"In the receivers room, we need to be ready to go. So whether if we add two pieces to it or we stay the way we are, the group as a whole has to be ready to move forward."

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