Back of the running backs, ASU national recruiting station for success
TEMPE – Rachaad White and Chip Trayanum led a dynamic Arizona State backfield in 2020. The smooth transfer from junior college and formidable freshman were big reasons the Sun Devils average more yards per game than any offense in the Pac-12.
So what’s next for these two talented full-backs in 2021? Learn to be a professional.
What does it mean?
“Understand and pay attention to the details,” said running back coach Shaun Agauno. “Better read second and third level defenders. Just their development as a running back.
“I think they did a great job (last year) hitting holes and finding their way through tackles. But now (it’s) understanding all the blocking patterns, and then figuring out how people play them on the second and third level, especially on the security level, so they can plan their escape when they break it.
White and Trayanum both broke long runs in 2020. Understanding how the defenses will attempt to stop them in 2021 should bode well for their ability to build on their promising debut, add to their arsenal of rushers and continue to perform. stand out from potential abusers.
Daniyel Ngata, a sophomore who won in the second half of the Sun Devils’ abridged season, will join them in the backfield.
Ngata, a former four-star rookie at Folsom High School in California, signed up in early 2020 but was hampered by a hamstring injury. It affected his resolve when he punched holes in the line, Aguano said, and limited the explosiveness he was known for as a high school player.
“I saw in high school his ability to pull away from defenders and play with confidence. I think this spring, after five training sessions, we will see old Daniyel again, ”said Aguano. “He’s confident, he’s smiling, he’s having fun there. And it’s a great addition to the other two. They’re helping him too, so these three are going to be a hell of a weapon for us in the backfield.
Offensive coordinator Zak Hill previously mentioned that Trayanum and White have become respected leaders among their teammates for their preparation and work ethic. Aguano said the attention to detail of the two riders sets them apart.
“I think Chip and Rachaad do a great job in their details, and now we have to take it to the next level,” Aguano said. “How can I see more than the box? How do I go about it and see the outer skirts of the defense and figure out what they’re trying to do for (us)? And so, it’s more of a classroom detail and learning more about defense and how to attack it than it was last year.
“Last year was an attack (mentality), and that’s how we’re going to do it and learn offense. Now it’s more understanding and the why of everything we do.
With Trayanum and White honing their understanding of defensive roster, Ngata rediscovering his high school form and dynamic talents like DJ Taylor working in the mix, the ASU backroom should have plenty of options to mix and match during what is expected to be a full 12-game season in 2021.
The room also has its fair share of camaraderie, especially between White and junior running back Jackson He. He, who caused a stir when he became the first player of Chinese descent to score a touchdown in an FBS game against Arizona, quickly became a friend of White’s.
” They are very close. They ride together to train. I don’t know how much I should say, but Rachaad helps Jackson a bit in the female category, giving him a bit of help there, ”Aguano said. “And so it’s really funny watching them. But they get along very well. Jackson communicates very well with the group and is a very appreciated person in our room.
White and He spend so much time together that ASU staff have compared them to Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan from the “Rush Hour” film trilogy.
“Jackson, he’s my guy,” White said. “I mean, all (running backs are) my guys and we’re all hanging out outside of here. We all just have a great relationship. Me and Jackson kinda hang out. This is a poster the staff made, they call me Chris Tucker and Jackson like Jackie Chan, because we’re so together, they try to make it seem like it’s rush hour or something. And it was funny to see.
With continued success in the backfield in 2021, Rush Hour could take on meaning beyond the film franchise for the Sun Devils.
New pipeline in Florida
A distinguished defensive player and recruiting coordinator Antonio Pierce after recent spring training was freshman Eric Gentry. A 6-foot-6, 220-pound linebacker from Neumann Goretti High School in Philadelphia, Gentry looks like a physical specimen and is already running with the second team in training. He’s one of the first players to catch your eye when you watch the Sun Devils at the Kajikawa training grounds.
Players like Gentry are the manifestation of ASU’s growth as a national recruiting power. In addition to Gentry, the Sun Devils have recruited players from Louisiana, New York, North Carolina and Washington. But one state in particular, Florida, brought in ASU Tommi Hill, a four-star athlete from Orlando who entered early and is battling for a cornerback spot in both depths.
This new depth gave Pierce confidence that his second team players could start if the need arises.
“” Our two (second teams) are pretty good. Our two could be starters and we’ll be comfortable with that. Could this now be what we want, and refined across the board? No. But we’re really comfortable with our two, ”Pierce said. “And I’m just going to use linebackers for example. I think sophomore Caleb McCullough is about to be a starter. Eric Gentry is a true freshman, and he’s very impressive.
“Tommi Hill, you look at (defensive backs) Cameron Phillips, Kejuan Markham, you name a bunch of guys in our second group, and you say, ‘Wow. If that was the starter, I’m fine. And these guys understand it, and the guys in front of them understand it because I tell them every day. And we also tell our freshmen that, because that’s what we tell rookies when they get here, that they’re going to have the opportunity to compete. And that’s how we’ve built this culture here over the past four years.
And after landing at Hill in 2021, the Sunshine State has already borne impressive fruit for the Sun Devils in the 2022 class, with Alfonzo Allen at four safeties signing up to ASU on March 13. Allen joined his teammate, 2022 four-star safety Jaylin Marshall, as the second Hallandale High School player in Hallandale Beach to commit to the Sun Devils within a month.
Landing two four-star teammates from across the country is not something ASU has usually done in the past. With prospects like four-star quarterback AJ Duffy (IMG Academy, Bradenton, Fla.) And four-star defensive tackle Anthony Lucas (Chaparral in Scottsdale) seriously considering the Sun Devils, the building blocks are there for a recruiting class. transformative nation that could match or exceed ASU’s impressive talent pool in 2020.
This will continue to improve the level of talent in all positions, something Pierce has already noticed on the training ground this spring with players like Gentry and Hill.
“It’s a beautiful thing to see,” Pierce said. “I’ll be honest, when we look at our offensive line and go back to the other side of the ball, and see these freshmen coming in and the mass and size and length and athleticism that they have now. , which we have with our second and third units, it’s impressive. Since we’ve been here and since I’ve been here with Coach Edwards, I’ve never seen our third offensive line group look like this. never saw that kind of body wandering around the building. And we have almost 17 offensive linemen, I believe, here in the spring thanks to a scholarship, and it’s amazing how long, how tall and how the stature of these guys.
“And then when you switch to the defensive end of the ball, look at the guys we brought in. I mean, you just saw Eric Gentry in person. And yes, he’s skinny, but he’s long, and he’s athletic, and he’s quick. And then Tommi Hill and (cornerback) RJ (Regan) did a great job of competing. Tommi weighs almost 200 pounds, probably our biggest DB, play corner, and one of our fastest guys. So a very impressive group of guys who were brought into this class of ’21 last year for us. And it’s going to continue to build on what we’ve been doing over the past year. “
ASU frequently played freshmen, which Pierce notes that the program sells to rookies and then backs up in the field. This fosters an atmosphere of competition that Pierce and Edwards design to elevate the level of intensity and execution of each unit.
Senior safety Evan Fields, a Sun Devils starter and defense anchor with NFL draft aspirations, said he appreciates how talented young players are pressuring ASU veterans to they give the best of themselves.
“I feel like our coaches have done a great job of recruiting and bringing in talent, and I feel like it helps us a lot,” said Fields. “It keeps everyone on your toes. If you are not doing your job, then there is someone else who can come and do it. So I feel like it makes the play better when you have a competition like this, and it forces the older player to work hard and set the young player a good example to follow. And if someone younger (is) playing, then the next man. “
If players like Allen and Marshall continue to sign with ASU, the Sun Devils will build even more depth in all positions and continue to challenge even NFL-related talent like Fields for the starting spots. The Sun Devils will create the type of intra-team competition that builds a roster deep and battle-proven enough to take on the best of the Pac-12.