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BREAKING: Jaden Rashada named starting QB for ASU’s season opener

© Rob Schumacher/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK

Highly-touted freshman QB Jaden Rashada has been named the starting quarterback for Arizona State’s season opener against Southern Utah on Aug. 31, as first reported by Arizona Sports’ John Gambadoro.

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The decision will be re-evaluated after the Southern Utah game, according to 247 Sports’ Chris Karpman.

As the highest-rated recruit and lone four-star in the Sun Devil’s 2023 high school class, Rashada, a 6-foot-4 dual-threat QB from Northern California, came to ASU with a lot of expectations.

After having an infamous NIL deal go wrong with Florida, Rashada could have gone anywhere, but he flipped his commitment from the Gators to Arizona State, following in the footsteps of his father, Harlen Rashada. Harlen played defensive back for the Sun Devils from 1992-94.

Jaden’s brother, Roman Rashada, a defensive back who didn’t appear in any games for Ole Miss last season, also recently transferred to Arizona State. Jaden spoke on the impact of having two Sun Devil family members, saying it was a “blessing.”

Jaden started his last two high school seasons and threw for 5,816 yards, 80 touchdowns and completed 60% of his passes. He also had 592 yards and nine touchdowns rushing.

Now, he’s beat out returning starting junior QB Trenton Bourguet for the job after Notre Dame transfer Drew Pyne went down with an injury during the team’s trip to Camp Tontozona.

Rashada will be the second ever true freshman to start a season opener for the Sun Devils after Jayden Daniels became the first in 2019.

Breaking down what Rashada brings to the table

This is a pretty unexpected move by first-year coach and QB guru Kenny Dillingham. Rashada is the future QB of this team and Dillingham will get to see what he brings to the table right away.

Right now, his big play ability and mobility are his biggest strengths. This weekend, he really improved his accuracy and showed how quickly he has gotten familiar with the first-team offense. As Dillingham pointed out, Rashada will be prone to making freshman mistakes.

From what I tracked, Rashada improved his accuracy to 64% in Saturday and Sunday’s team drills after going 6/17 (35%) in last Wednesday’s scrimmage. He still had highlight plays during all three of these practices.

Rashada was slated to be the third-string quarterback upon coming to ASU, but he quickly ascended in fall camp after Pyne’s injury.

Since his arrival at ASU, Rashada says he has learned “everything” from coach Dillingham.

“I came in here not knowing much about football,” he said on Saturday, “just because (in) high school everybody comes from different circumstances, from different high schools. But honestly, he’s taught me a whole lot, and I’m glad I’m here.”

Dillingham being established in developing quarterbacks, such as Bo Nix and Jordan Travis, was a large factor in Rashada’s decision to come to ASU.

“It’s a big reason why I ended up here,” Rashada said. “So it’s pretty valuable, and I’m just blessed to be in the position I’m in with great coaching and great teammates around me. But it’s definitely helped me a lot having coach Dilly.”

After Wednesday’s scrimmage when Rashada had two touchdowns from 50 yards out, Dillingham gave praise to his freshman.

“He’s just gotten better and better and better every day,” Dillingham said after the scrimmage. “When he’s on the field explosive plays happen. Now is there a learning curve with him? Yeah, he didn’t really get many reps in spring ball, because he showed up the day before. (When) he started, he didn’t earn the right to be with the ones or twos to start full camp. So he started with the threes, but over a period of time, he’s grown and gotten better and better and better. And he’s earned the reps to be with the ones, he’s earned the reps to be with the twos.

Dillingham continued: “It’s a matter of watching the tape and seeing: Are his positives and explosives, do they outweigh the young moments that you’re going to have as a young quarterback? And can us as a staff control those young moments enough to where we can showcase his talents, which is you saw throwing the ball 50-60 yards down the field. There was almost another one that would have been a 75-80 yard walk off, (but) the DB tipped it. So those plays are obviously different when he’s in the game.”

Bourguet has noticed the development of Rashada since he arrived on campus.

“We all have a different role on this team,” Bourguet said about Rashada on Saturday. “He came here in the spring right out of high school and kind of was thrown into the fire. But at Camp T and obviously, the last couple of weeks, he’s finally, you can see, he’s starting to anticipate those throws, making some deep ball throws. He’s really anticipating and in the meeting room, he’s asking questions. He’s texting people, stuff like that. So we’re kind of all on the same page.”

After only one day of receiving primary first-team reps in fall camp before last week, Rashada saw the bulk of them last Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

He still feels like he is learning and growing every day, especially with increased first-team reps.

“I’m still growing every day,” Rashada said. “I feel like I progress, honestly like, night and day just in terms, knowing the offense and knowing looks. I feel like I progress pretty well, but I’m nowhere where I want to be, I just want to keep going every day. That’s all I can ask for.”

Despite the outside noise of the competition for the starting QB job, Rashada did not view it as such.

“I’m not really looking (at) anything as a competition,” he said. “Whatever happens, happens. I’m just trying to grow every day and be the best version of myself and be the best teammate I can be.”

Since spending more time with the first team, Rashada feels the chemistry he has with that team continuing to get better.

“I’ve seen it develop a lot since I’ve been getting more reps with the ones,” Rashada said. “Although, everybody’s still growing that chemistry. We’ll be growing that chemistry till the season ends. So (we’re) just building brick by brick and trying to get better every day.”

What Dillingham had said about a decision

After ASU’s last practice just a couple days ago, Dillingham sounded still uncertain about a decision, which he said was likely to come on Thursday, a week before the team’s first game.

“I would say all things are on the table,” Dillingham said on Sunday in terms of the QB battle. “We’re still figuring out exactly what we want to do right now, and how we want to do it. I think those guys all have different skill sets. They all have their strengths, they all have their weaknesses. How can we maximize their skill set to put the best team on the field that can win? That’s our goal.”

He continued in saying he is not thinking about the future of the team, he is focused on now.

“Our goal in not for the future,” Dillingham said. “Our goal is not for next year, two years, that’s not fair to the seniors that put in the work. Our goal and my goal is to put the best product on the field to give these seniors the best chance to win football games right now. And whatever avenue that is, we’re going to cross and we’re going to try to do.”

(After this quote it seemed as if Bourguet would be starter)

On Saturday, Bourguet complimented Rashada and said he just wants to win.

“I think he’s a great athlete,” Bourguet said of Rashada. “I’ve seen him over the years in the 7-on-7 circuit. I think he has a very strong arm, and I think the game is finally starting to slow down for him. And he’s able to make those long throws, and he’s able to make some moves with his legs. But it’s awesome to see he’s finally getting comfortable. And I think at the end of day, we’re just pushing each other, he’s asking me questions, and vice versa … We’re all Sun Devils, and we all want to win at the end of the day.”

Dillingham added more comments about Rashada on Sunday.

“He hasn’t turned the ball over very much in fall camp,” Dillingham said. “To be honest, he’s done a pretty solid job with that. I think one of the big things for him is the awareness in the pocket. The game’s a lot faster, the pass rush is faster. They catch you from behind a lot faster. Normally, he’s athletic, he can skate out of the pocket and float at 80% and he’s out-running people. Right, now you have a (junior EDGE) B.J. Green chasing you down, you better run. Like Forrest Gump: ‘Run Forrest run,’ like you better get on your horse and go.”

How ASU QBs view the quarterback competition

Sun Devil fans now get to see their quarterback of the future right away. His talent shines through whenever you watch him, as many got to see at Camp T, it’s just a matter of if it all can come together when he’s in a game situation.

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Brendan Mau is a college sports insider and general assignment reporter for Burn City Sports. You can follow him on X via @Brendan_Mau

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