As Arizona State spring football practice is off and running, a lot is being made of the battle for the starting quarterback job and even who is going to emerge on the offensive line with so many seniors from last season gone.
Another position that is already seeing quite the battle on the field is at wide receiver. The Sun Devils graduated D.J. Foster, Devin Lucien and Gary Chambers from last season who were three of the top four players statistically at that position in catches, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. It is another area were the Sun Devils are hoping that new players will emerge and take a strangle hold of jobs available.
“Oh yeah there is a lot of competition there,” said the 6-5, 213 pound Ellis Jefferson. “You’ve got to make sure you have no missed assignments and you’re doing everything right. Coach Norvell, Jay Norvell, he actually grades us every day and he actually says if you have an 85 percent or better every day, you’ll be considered a starter in the fall. So that’s what every receiver is trying to get.”
“At every position our deal is we’ve got to get better and I like the fact that there is a lot of competition,” stated head coach Todd Graham. “I think at receiver, defensive line those are two areas where we do have quite a few players but it creates a lot of competition.”
While Tim White returns going off his breakout 2015 campaign and Cameron Smith is back after missing all of last season with a knee injury, Jefferson is another player who has been the cusp of being a big time playmaker for ASU. Both in 2013 and 2014, Jefferson was one of the players who stood out the most during fall camp at the wide receiving position but during both regular season’s, the production on the practice field was not seen on game day.
Now as spring ball 2016 is five practices in, Jefferson is back and looks to have taken that next step needed. This is being backed up with getting that coveted 85 percent and up grade all but just one time so far.
“I’ve been above 85 percent a lot of times actually,” Jefferson explained. “I’ve had one 84 and that’s when he told us we had to be above 85. So I was real mad about that.”
“He’s stronger and more mature and he’s had a good spring so far,” mentioned Graham of Jefferson. “I think he’s developed really well. I am really pleased to see the his development and how he’s moved forward.”
In the end, the Quarterback starter while prove to be the biggest news once the depth charts start to be formed for next season, but the competition between the Sun Devil receivers to get that 85 percent grade or above will continue to be a quite angle that will need to be watched this spring.