Earlier this week, I reviewed the (few) seniors that will play a crucial role for Arizona State in this upcoming season. At the other hand of the spectrum, there are freshmen.
It is not often considered as a good sign to throw first-year or redshirt players on the gridiron. However, depending on the situation, there is no other choice if a team wants to be competitive.
Todd Graham faces this dilemma.
ASU has to go through a rebuilding phase in 2016, with some units being totally refurnished with new players. Inexperienced and young players, usually. But these players might be more talented than their older counterparts.
The lineup will be set on the practice field.
Brady White. Nobody seems to know which quarterback is going to start next week against Norther Arizona, but local redshirt freshman Brady White is still in play to inherit the biggest starting gig of the team.
While Manny Wilkins has been mostly running with the first team, White also earned some reps alongside the other starting offensive players. It seems unlikely at this point that Brady White will start for the Sun Devils; however, a slump or an injury might force Todd Graham to rely on his freshman quarterback.
No matter the scenario, Brady White will have to be ready to play for ASU.
N’Keal Harry. Of course, everybody expects the 5-star receiver out of Chandler High School to play right away with the Sun Devils. He most likely will. The jewel of this year’s recruiting class needs to be polished, and what’s better than playing time to get acclimated to the college level.
Harry won’t become the #1 target from Day 1, but he probably will be used as a complimentary piece to stretch defenses. His size and speed are undeniable strengths the have to be exploited by ASU.
Do not expect him to tear up the field from the very beginning, although he may flash his all-world potential on several occasions.
Zach Robertson. We are all talking about Evan Goodman being locked up at the left tackle position, but redshirt freshman Zach Robertson appeared to be stuck on the right side of the offensive line for all fall practices.
Linemen tend to fly under the radar pretty often (which is a shame). Freshman linemen even more. Robertson has not really been talked about over the offseason, but what if he ends up being a relatively strong piece on a whole new offensive line? Okay, there are very small chances he will dominate his position.
However, despite a furious competition at the position, he is still ahead more experienced players. As a freshman. It could mean (very) good or (very) bad things.
Cohl Cabral. Another freshman offensive lineman in the mix. Cohl Cabral will not start at the center position when the regular season begins, but he earned a pretty interesting reputation during fall camp.
The true freshman from California was regularly praised by the coaching staff and was seen participating on first-team drills. His time will come. For now, being the second-team center is a promising reward that could materialize rather sooner than later.
Robbie Robinson. ASU’s secondary is one of the most heated competition of the team. The entire two-deep has a real chance of earning a starting spot, and a few freshmen are in the mix.
True freshman cornerback Robbie Robinson was working lately with the first-team defense, notably at the nickel position. Laiu Moeakiola has been slowed down by a nagging hamstring injury, which could force Kareem Orr to slide back to safety in case of need, thus opening a spot on the outside.
The competition is wide-open among the defensive backs and it would not be surprising to see freshmen emerge as key players. For better or for worse?