ESPN’s Connelly: 2 ASU transfers can dictate College Football Playoff

Aug 12, 2022, 9:08 AM

Quarterback Jayden Daniels #5 of the Arizona State Sun Devils looks to throw under pressure from li...

Quarterback Jayden Daniels #5 of the Arizona State Sun Devils looks to throw under pressure from linebacker Nick Herbig #19 of the Wisconsin Badgers as tight end Curtis Hodges #86 of the Sun Devils blocks during the SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl at Allegiant Stadium on December 30, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

As Arizona State manages low expectations from outside the program, it’s easy to forget the Sun Devils’ place in the larger fabric of college football.

The transfer portal took from Tempe more than it gave back, and that could very well have implications in the College Football Playoff for 2022.

ESPN’s Bill Connelly patched together his list of 25 players who will have the largest impact in the College Football Playoff race, and two former Sun Devils made the cut: LSU Tigers quarterback Jayden Daniels and USC Trojans linebacker Eric Gentry.

Daniels came in ranked 25th on the list in a tier that Connelly calls “spoiler quarterbacks.” The quarterback probably would be higher on the list if Daniels had already locked down the starting nod over returnee Myles Brennan and redshirt freshman Garrett Nussmeier. Writes Connelly:

Daniels is ungovernable. Among QBs with at least 375 dropbacks last season, his 15.1% rate of scrambles per dropback was comfortably the most, but he’s good at it. He averaged 8.9 yards per carry on scrambles and produced a raw QBR of 85.5 when passing from outside the pocket. LSU probably isn’t going to contend for the SEC West, but with the Tigers’ overall athleticism and Daniels’ unique improv skills, they could beat any single team on the schedule. If he wins the job.

Daniels brings 723 passes of experience and a combined 32-13 touchdown-to-pick ratio, which got tanked by a 10-10 ratio last season.

While his passer rating fell off considerably — 136 last year compared to 146 and 149 respectively in his sophomore and freshman campaigns — Daniels did break out as a scrambler. He rushed for 710 yards and six touchdowns in 2021.

LSU’s trajectory also might have something to do with Daniels’ ranking. The Tigers find themselves five spots outside the USA Today Coaches’ Poll this preseason, and they must come together quickly under a new staff led by former Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly.

Gentry, maybe surprisingly, finds himself at No. 11 on Connelly’s list and in the “most important transfers” tier.

While Caleb Williams & Co. will probably not need long to turn USC’s offense into an absolute force, the defense is far less proven. Among others, the Trojans will need a huge season from Gentry, a sophomore who was Arizona State’s steadiest defender late last season.

The 6-foot-6 linebacker eased in as a freshman. As a former edge rusher, he played as an off-ball linebacker for ASU, recording 26 tackles with 5.0 for loss, plus two passes defensed in 10 games.

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ESPN’s Connelly: 2 ASU transfers can dictate College Football Playoff