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ASU Football: The Impact of no Elijhah Badger

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With Elijhah Bager ruled academically ineligible for this upcoming Sun Devil football season, there could be a substantial shift in the offensive game plan.

With just one returning receiver who was integral to ASU’s offense last year, Frank Darby, coming back, ASU was set to rely on the young receivers they poached from California in this last recruiting class.

Johnny Wilson, Badger, LV Bunkley-Shelton, and Chad Johnson Jr were going to be competing for depth chart priority in those slots under Darby in 2020.

They are more talented than any other returning receivers other than Darby. And, for what it’s worth, all of them showed more potential than Darby when he was coming out of high school.

Badger is the second-most talented out of the four incoming freshmen.

Wilson was the more highly-touted recruit, but it is worth mentioning that it would be no surprise if Badger ends up being the best receiver in the class.

His high school numbers were scary. According to MaxPreps, Elijhah Badger put up 3,398 receiving yards in his sophomore through senior years along with an insane 52 touchdowns at Folsom High School. His best season was his senior campaign, where he posted almost 1,400 receiving yards and his second 20 touchdown season.

Even more impressive is his yards per catch. He averaged an insane 17.5 yards per reception in 2019, and that wasn’t even one of his best marks. In 2018, he averaged 20.2 yards per reception, and in 2017, he averaged 18.3 yards a reception.

He’s an incredibly efficient deep threat and one that ASU was going to be looking for in a passing attack that already likes to go vertical. Great speed and decent size at 6’2,” 195 lbs is something the Devils will surely miss.

On the contrary, as mentioned before, ASU has other talented freshman receivers that possibly could’ve beaten Badger out if they outperformed him in these fall practices. An issue with that type of wishful thinking is that it’s not just offense where Badger could contribute, but on all three phases of the game.

Badger wasn’t just a receiver recruit. He was an all-around athlete who had the potential to play as a defensive back. His athleticism, length, and outstanding anticipation give him tools to potentially have a future on defense. These tools come in clutch with that potentially crowded receiver room.

He’s flashed on special teams too. In his senior season, he returned 10 kicks for 409 yards. In his junior season, he returned 17 punts for 417 yards. He’s shown that he can be incredibly efficient with the return game as well.

Again, ASU has other talented receivers coming in. They could end up making do with what they have. Nobody wants to see a player who would potentially be high on the depth chart, not play, though, and Badger has some tools that these other guys don’t necessarily have.

Badger can play on both sides of the football, on special teams, and was an elite deep threat in high school with a ton of potential. ASU will be going up against a very talented defensive backfield that’s finally healthy in USC week 1 and a defensive backfield that has been very impressive in the last two years in Cal week 2.

It’s even possible that ASU would need the most depth it can have for the Utah game in week 4. Utah embarrassed ASU’s receivers last year, and while Utah’s returning little of that talent, Kyle Whittingham is a good coach who has shown ability in bringing the best out of players before in his career.

Elijhah Badger’s someone ASU wants around and could be a force when he comes back for his now-redshirt freshman season.