ESPN ranks 3 former Sun Devils in top 50 of college football transfers

Oct 29, 2022, 5:56 AM
LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels (5) carries against New Mexico safety AJ Haulcy (24) in the second h...

LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels (5) carries against New Mexico safety AJ Haulcy (24) in the second half of an NCAA college football game in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. LSU won 38-0. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

En route to their 2-5 record, Arizona State football has endured a coaching change, a quarterback controversy and an ongoing NCAA investigation into recruitment violations during the pandemic.

Perhaps adding insult to injury, a few players lost to the transfer portal are key contributors in their new homes.

Tom VanHaaren of ESPN ranked the top 50 transfers in college football this season.

There are no current Sun Devils in VanHaaren’s top 50. However, two former Sun Devils are in the top 20, while three made his list overall.

There are three current Arizona Wildcats on the list as well.

Who are they?

18. LB Eric Gentry – USC

Gentry was a true freshman All-American at Arizona State in 2021, finishing the season with 45 total tackles, 5 tackles for loss and 2 pass breakups. The Trojans needed help on defense, and Gentry now leads the team in total tackles with 52 through seven games. Gentry also has an interception, 2.5 tackles for loss and a forced fumble this season.

Last season, Gentry ranked sixth on the Sun Devils in total tackles, tied for sixth in TFLs and added two passes defended as a true freshman. Now, he’s a productive member of a Trojan team that’s ranked 10th nationally.

20. QB Jayden Daniels – LSU

Daniels got off to a slow start at LSU but lately has been very good for the Tigers, who have won six of their past seven games. He has 1,812 yards passing, 12 touchdowns and 1 interception, and he leads the team in rush yards (524) and rushing touchdowns (nine) as well.

Daniels became a polarizing player in Tempe despite a great freshman campaign in 2019. In 12 games, he threw for 2,943 yards and 17 touchdowns and two interceptions.

In his final 17 games as a Sun Devil, he threw for 3,082 yards, 15 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

Daniels’ hot streak has catapulted LSU into the top 20 nationally despite being unranked all but one week through eight games.

42. WR Johnny Wilson – FSU

Wilson, a big target at 6-7, 235 pounds, leads the Seminoles with 492 receiving yards and three touchdowns. He is averaging 18.2 yards per catch and 70.3 receiving yards per game.

The sophomore wideout played just seven games as a Sun Devil out of a possible 13. When he was on the field, he accumulated 18 receptions for 243 yards and one touchdown. He’s more than doubled his production for a Seminoles team that was ranked as recently as Week 5.

Arizona Wildcats transfers

13. WR Jacob Cowing – via UTEP

Arizona needed playmakers at receiver after finishing last season ranked No. 69 among all FBS teams in pass yards per game with 226.3. Cowing has helped in a big way, combining with transfer quarterback Jayden de Laura to put Arizona at No. 5 in pass yards per game this season with 334.4.

Cowing averaged over 18 yards per reception and tallied 14 total touchdowns in three seasons with the Miners. While his average yards per reception is down to 13.9, he’s averaging a touchdown every 7.6 catches — an improvement from every 10.8 at UTEP.

24. QB Jayden de Laura – via Washington State

De Laura has helped elevate the Arizona offense, which was near the bottom of the league in pass yards last year. He is the No. 9 quarterback in total pass yards with 2,274. He has 19 touchdowns and is averaging 8.27 yards per attempts. The Wildcats’ offense has been on a different level with de Laura at the helm.

The junior quarterback is in the midst of his best collegiate season, with career bests in completion rate, passing efficiency rating and yards per attempt. He is also on pace for 33 touchdown passes.

While the Wildcats are the No. 80 team in FBS, they’ve jumped to 55th in points per game from 124th a season ago.

48. TE Tanner McLachlan – via Southern Utah

He’s fourth on the team in receiving yards with 309 and has two touchdowns. He’s averaging 13.43 yards per reception and has been a dependable target for de Laura.

The sophomore tight end corralled 15 passes for 168 yards and two touchdowns in two seasons for the Western Athletic Conference’s Southern Utah Thunderbirds. This year, he’s 17th among FBS tight ends in receiving yards.

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