The Athletic’s transfer rankings lend Arizona hope, ASU worry

Aug 29, 2022, 10:22 AM
Wide receiver Jacob Cowing #6 of the UTEP Miners breaks the tackle of safety Alexander Teubner #34 ...
Wide receiver Jacob Cowing #6 of the UTEP Miners breaks the tackle of safety Alexander Teubner #34 of the Boise State Broncos to score a touchdown during first half action on September 10, 2021 at Albertsons Stadium in Boise, Idaho. (Photo by Loren Orr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Loren Orr/Getty Images)

This offseason’s transfer portal gives the Arizona Wildcats reason for hope, representing an injection of talent to a one-win team from 2021.

It is also the reason for the rival Arizona State Sun Devils to worry about the diffusion of talent out of Tempe compared to what came in.

Before the season began, The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman and Max Olson ranked the top 100 college football transfers. The list lays out why Arizona hopes to parlay the portal action into a major step forward, and it gives evidence for why analysts and fans worry about ASU’s departures.

For the Wildcats, it starts with former UTEP receiver Jacob Cowing, a Maricopa High School product returning to the state of Arizona. He’s ranked 18th on The Athletic’s list.

Cowing posted 1,354 yards and seven touchdowns last season, averaging 19.6 yards per reception.

He had long receptions of greater than 30 yards in nine of his 13 games played last year, and that big-play ability wasn’t a fluke with his three-year reception average sitting at a fine 18.4 yards per catch. Writes The Athletic duo:

After leading the Miners in receiving in each of his three seasons and earning first-team All-Mountain West recognition, Cowing came home to Arizona to be closer to his son and help Jedd Fisch get the Wildcats’ offense rolling.

It’ll help the 5-foot-11 Cowing that Washington State transfer Jayden de Laura will be throwing him the ball. De Laura ranks 64th on The Athletic’s list of transfers, ahead of Arizona State transfer Jayden Daniels (68th), the new starting quarterback for LSU.

De Laura threw for 2,798 yards, 23 touchdowns and nine picks last season with WSU and fairly quickly won the starting quarterback job over a threesome of returning Wildcats, plus highly touted freshman Noah Fifita.

Daniels is one of seven former Sun Devils on the list that only includes a single newcomer to head coach Herm Edwards’ squad, running back Xazavian Valladay.

Receiver and new Florida Gator Ricky Pearsall (36th) and first-year USC Trojans linebacker Eric Gentry (44th) are the ASU transfers atop the list.

(Gentry) made a big impression on USC coaches and teammates in fall camp with his length, toughness, quickness and ability to both cover and rush the passer. Gentry should be a fascinating chess piece for Alex Grinch’s defense.

Other former Sun Devils on Olson’s and Feldman’s list are receiver Johnny Wilson (Florida State), defensive lineman Jermayne Lole (Louisville), defensive back Tommi Hill (Nebraska) and running back-turned-linebacker Chip Trayanum (Ohio State).

For the optimists, though, Valladay built his offseason hype by impressing the ASU coaching staff.

He’s coming off a 1,070-yard season with six touchdowns and in 626 rushing attempts over four years with Wyoming averaged 5.2 yards per carry.

The Athletic’s 2022 transfer rankings of ASU, UA players

18 — WR Jacob Cowing, UTEP → Arizona
36 — WR Ricky Pearsall, Arizona State → Florida
44 — LB Eric Gentry, Arizona State → USC
50 — WR Johnny Wilson, Arizona State → Florida State
55 — RB Xazavian Valladay, Wyoming → Arizona State
56 — DL Jermayne Lole, Arizona State → Louisville
64 — QB Jayden de Laura, Washington State → Arizona
68 — QB Jayden Daniels, Arizona State → LSU
85 — DB Tommi Hill, Arizona State → Nebraska
89 — LB Chip Trayanum, Arizona State → Ohio State

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The Athletic’s transfer rankings lend Arizona hope, ASU worry