Gold: Is Kenny Dillingham on the verge of a major splash?
Kenny Dillingham, step right up to the diving board. It’s time for you to make a splash.
In an offseason that has brought one talented quarterback after another to the west coast, Arizona State just might be on the verge of giving the Pac-12 another QB coup.
Former Florida signee Jaden Rashada is reportedly leaning toward joining the Sun Devils after an embarrassing breakup with the Gators. Should Dillingham reel in Rashada, all of a sudden, Arizona State’s depth chart doesn’t look quite as bad as it did just a little over a month ago.
5⭐️ QB Jaden Rashada is back on the market. ASU reportedly expected to make a strong push. Kenny Dillingham has a prior relationship with Rashada and his family. Rashada's father, Harlen played for the Sun Devils in the early 90's. (@247Sports)
— Tim Ring (@timringTV) January 18, 2023
After watching what Dillingham did with Bo Nix and the Oregon offense in 2022, is it much of a surprise that he’s become a bit of a QB pied piper in his short tenure as head coach of Arizona State? Like an NFL product who puts some good tape together, Dillingham’s Nix fix showed what he could do with a quarterback with whom he has a bit of familiarity.
Don’t be surprised if he hands the keys of the car over to Rashada, should he land the talented quarterback instead of Washington and Cal and more, as Dillingham is playing long game back in his hometown in the desert.
Then again, he might just have some other options in 2023.
Arizona State entered the 2022 offseason with one of the worst QB rooms in the Pac-12, if not all of college football.
There was Trenton Bourguet, the former walk-on who seized the starting position and played admirably in wins over Washington and Colorado before losing 4 straight despite solid passing stats. Bourguet ended up finishing the year with a respectable 144.3 passer rating, with 1,490 passing yards on 145 completions and 11 touchdowns versus 6 interceptions.
There was Emory Jones, the other former Florida Gator starter turned Sun Devil starter who won the QB battle coming out of training camp only to fall flat on his face as the leader of the ASU offense. But he had one foot out the door after it was pretty clear that he was not the answer for the Sun Devils after completing just 62.8 percent of his passes for 1,533 yards and 7 touchdowns with 4 interceptions.
And there was Paul Tyson, grandson of the great Bear Bryant, who transferred from Bryant’s familiar Alabama to Arizona State last season and then to Clemson this offseason after riding the pine the whole year.
And speaking of Pyne…
A week after Jones announced he would enter the portal, and a few weeks after Tyson did the same, Notre Dame’s Drew Pyne announced his intention to transfer to Arizona State.
Pyne, who started 10 games this year for the Fighting Irish after replacing the injured Tyler Buchner in Week 2, ended up with a fine season after leading the Irish back from a slow start. He completed 164-of-254 passes for 2,021 yards and 22 touchdowns with 6 interceptions. He left Notre Dame after learning his grip on the starting gig was not quite so secure, with the Irish likely to explore transfer portal options, which they did, landing the biggest whale on the open market, former Wake Forest quarterback Sam Hartman.
Pyne’s arrival in Tempe was already an upgrade in the QB room, as the former 4-star recruit fits well into Dillingham’s style of play.
But now with Rashada possibly entering the mix, ASU’s offensive outlook is much, much brighter.
The Sun Devils already have a quarterback commit in Corona Centennial’s Israel Carter, who chose Arizona State over offers from Hawaii and Tulane, among others.
But Rashada is in another category altogether.
His breakup with Florida is already the stuff of legends, reportedly related to buyer’s remorse from Gator boosters who balked a laughable $13.2 million price tag. Rashada is not worth that much, and even if that number is three or four times reality, that’s still too much.
He is good, though. Very good.
The nation’s No. 6 quarterback out of Pittsburgh (Calif.) High, Rashada had suitors at some of the top programs in the country, and he was on his way to being the prized signing of Billy Napier’s first real class with the Gators.
Pittsburg's @jadenrashada balled out during his senior season.
Dude threw for 3,000+ and 32 touchdowns to go with nearly 500 yards rushing and 7 TDs. pic.twitter.com/5yL11v5plg
— Zack Poff (@Zack_Poff_MP) January 26, 2023
Alas, he’s now up for grabs, and ASU has a good shot, with Dillingham leading the conversation. Their prior relationship from Dillingham’s Oregon days has the Sun Devils in good position, and Rashada’s familial connection bodes well, as well. if Dillingham can seal the deal, it speaks volumes. Hell, it screams from the rooftop.
ASU getting Rashada would join a passing party that puts the Pac-12 ahead of every other conference in the category.
He would join USC’s Malachi Nelson, UCLA’s Dante Moore and Oregon State’s Aiden Chiles as Class of 2023 top-7 quarterbacks headed to the league, joining what might just be the best crop of returning quarterbacks in the country in USC’s Caleb Williams, Oregon’s Nix, Utah’s Cameron Rising, Washington’s Michael Penix Jr., Arizona’s Jayden de Laura and Washington State’s Cam Ward. And that’s not to mention a talented crop of transfer portal arrivals in Oregon State’s D.J. Uiagalelei, UCLA’s Collin Schlee and Colorado’s Shedeur Sanders.
If Dillingham makes the latest Pac-12 splash, all of a sudden the Sun Devils feel a lot more secure about their standing in that bunch.