Brandon Aiyuk quickly filling role as ASU’s no-doubt No. 1 wideout
TEMPE, Ariz. — Entering the 2019 season, the Arizona State Sun Devils knew there were big shoes to be filled in the offense.
Most notably at the wide receiver spot.
Gone to the NFL is N’Keal Harry, along with his nearly 3,000 yards and 22 touchdowns, which in turn created a glaring void at the No. 1 wide receiver position.
But departures lead to new opportunities. It’s solely on the players to seize them.
And from the early returns, senior wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk has clearly grabbed the bull by horns.
Through four weeks, Aiyuk has been freshman quarterback Jayden Daniels’ go-to guy, recording 22 receptions for 424 yards and two scores. He leads his fellow pass catchers in yards and receptions, and is tied with junior running back Eno Benjamin in touchdowns.
Aiyuk is even rivaling Harry’s numbers over the same span just a year prior: In an established offense under Manny Wilkins, Harry saw 26 balls come his way for 335 yards and four scores, just four more receptions and two more touchdowns than Aiyuk through the air.
“Just knowing him and really just getting him the ball,” Daniels said of his favorite target. “He’s a special type of player so it’s just getting him the ball and let him do what he has to do.”
It’s clear Aiyuk has taken it upon himself to be at the best of his abilities, with another year in the offense aiding his cause. It’s not only paying off for him, but for his teammates as well.
Especially for Daniels, who built a rapport with the senior WR since before the season even began.
“This was just the work that we’ve put in since the moment that he got here,” Aiyuk said. “We knew when he got here in spring he had a good chance at playing quarterback for us, so that was just the work that we put in. Spring ball, after practices, watching film on the offseason. Just running routes together to get that stuff down because we knew we had limited time.
“We talk about it all the time,” Aiyuk added. “We kinda have that help-me-help-you mentality so we just go out there and work and then you just want to be better every single game.”
Aiyuk’s mindset isn’t just rubbing off on the young signal caller, either.
“Obviously he’s a great player, he’s going to go really far in life with football,” freshman wide receiver Ricky Pearsall said of Aiyuk. “Learning from him is really important. It’s really made my game even better, and he’s really helped on the field and off the field with everything throughout football, the college process, all that stuff.”
As it stands, Aiyuk needs just 12 more receptions, 51 yards and two more scores to surpass his 2018 totals.
With six regular season games still to play, Aiyuk is provided with a golden opportunity to not only etch his name among the ASU receiving greats, but to help set his quarterback and team up for the future.