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ASU Mailbag: Sun Devils Freshman Impresses Transfer Portal Expectations

The Sun Devils are done with spring practice, but the questions from ASU fans are only beginning.

Easter weekend has come and gone, and while the public still works through their share of candy, the Sun Devils look to get right back to the weight room. 

We learned a lot about ASU's core of players over the last month, but the reality of the situation is the Sun Devils might not be done adding to their roster. 

"It (the transfer portal) will ramp itself up again after spring ball. We anticipate that, so we've saved a couple (scholarships) in our pocket to make sure that we can go out and play in that market of free agency," said Edwards following the spring showcase. 

That's where we'll start this mailbag. Thanks to everybody across social media for sending in your questions.

Freshman Impresses; Transfer Portal Expectations

How good was Robby Harrison last night (during the spring showcase)? We heard his name like seven times!

The hype around freshman defensive lineman Robby Harrison is real. His position coach, Robert Rodriguez, captured it best when we spoke to him earlier in the spring:

"He should be getting ready for his prom here in a couple of weeks," said Rodriguez about Harrison, who enrolled early at ASU. 

"I'm telling you, his ceiling is so high. He's such a good kid, and he's naturally tough. He was a state champion in wrestling. Just a good kid and the guys love him and he's funny as heck. If you're ever around him; get him talking. But the guys love him, they think he's gonna be really special. I do too. I think he's got a bright future."

Harrison naturally has a long way to go before filling the shoes of a lineman such as Jermayne Lole, but even the flashes he showed at the spring showcase where he consistently found himself in the backfield was impressive. 

We'll see if his improvement over the next few months lands him snaps in a deep defensive line unit, but there's no denying the future is his for the taking. 

Thank you for all your coverage throughout the spring. Have you observed a change in the approach by the new coaching staff? Are they more hands-on than the prior staff?

At the beginning of spring practice, Edwards said the chemistry between the coaching staff was "different" than last year, in a good way.

I don't believe that was a slight to any of the five coaches that are no longer at Arizona State, but we do have to remember that Edwards is now surrounded by more of "his" guys with promotions or hires.

Some will point out that Edwards simply hired his friends. The reality, or at least what he relayed to reporters, is he wants people he can trust to get the job done.

Unfortunately I can't speak too much about the prior staff, as I never had the opportunity to watch or interact with them closely in a practice setting. 

However, I do believe the present slew of coaches understands the temperature around ASU. They're well aware of the outside noise and how that could impact their kids. 

Installing new offensive and defensive philosophies requires hands-on attention at all times, and I can confirm after spending time with coaches such as Rodriguez and offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh, they didn't let the slightest mistake go unnoticed while working with each player. 

Sure, sometimes the language got colorful, but what's life if you're only living in black and white? 

The most notable changes have come on the defensive side of the ball under new coordinator Donnie Henderson. Multiple players have said Henderson brings a no-nonsense approach to his side of the ball, unlike previous coordinator Antonio Pierce who encouraged his players to let loose their confidence. 

"Yeah, there's reasons for it. I want them to play football. Let's control our emotions where we don't get to the point where we become combative, and just be competitive," said Henderson after defensive end Michael Matus told reporters he wasn't a fan of talking smack. 

Offensive coordinator Glenn Thomas was more reserved when we spoke with him, although there's already a ton on his plate in teaching a new offense while trying to evaluate the right quarterback to run it at the same time. 

If anything, you could say Arizona State intends to let their play do the talking moving forward. We'll see how much noise they make on the scoreboard, but the current coaching staff continues to push the professional model at ASU, which includes carrying yourself like a pro on and off the field. 

Any transfer portal predictions?

Thankfully, Edwards made this question easy to answer when he spoke with media members following the spring showcase when he spoke about the cornerback depth.

He said, "We've got a lot of talent, and we're actually bringing in probably two more corners. And we've got some more guys to bring in. We've got, I think, seven, eight scholarships left and there's some guys that we're going to bring in here. They're ready to come. We're going to wait, just see how things work out."

So, put me down for two more defensive backs coming in the portal. That would leave about six scholarships left.

Then, there's the debate whether Arizona State will bring in another passer in the transfer portal. 

Ultimately, I think ASU's last hope of bringing somebody in is Florida's Emory Jones. If Jones goes elsewhere, I think the Sun Devils are better off rolling with what they have. 

It wouldn't be a surprise to see Arizona State grab another wide receiver in the transfer portal, either. Perhaps another defensive lineman since ASU has put a heavy emphasis on controlling the line of scrimmage. 

I don't think ASU uses all of their scholarships on transfer guys, which hopefully means some deserving players within the program are able to get some much needed assistance. 

Overall thoughts on the running backs after watching them?

I think Arizona State plans to utilize many of their backs like they did in previous years. 

Xazavian Valladay was extremely impressive carrying the ball, and I think he'll be fun to watch at Sun Devil Stadium. He might be one of ASU's top adds in the portal for this year.

Daniyel Ngata is set for a nice uptick in touches, and deservedly so. Ngata has worked hard and stayed the course playing behind very talented backs such as Rachaad White and Chip Trayanum. 

Valladay and Ngata will see most of the action in the backfield, although incoming freshman Tevin White may make a cameo or two during the season. 

Quick thoughts on each runner:

Valladay: Has a strong chance to emerge as RB1. Overall strong back who can give you the ability to hit a home run any time he has the ball. 

Ngata: Takes pride in doing the dirty work. Quiet but extremely hardworking and will be used often in 2022. 

White: A lot of potential, but would love for him to hit the weight room and focus on what could be a monster sophomore season at ASU with meat on his muscle. 

There's also running backs such as Deonce Elliot and George Hart III who are capable of being serviceable at Arizona State, but are buried on the depth chart. 

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