Arizona State football’s Kenny Dillingham clear with QBs about competition, talks transfers

Jan 9, 2024, 6:41 PM

Arizona State head football coach Kenny Dillingham sat with every player during exit interviews at the end of the 2023 season, and he was honest when discussing the future with his quarterbacks.

In discussions with 2023 true freshman Jaden Rashada and redshirt junior Trenton Bourguet, Dillingham made clear his intentions to bring in another quarterback to compete.

“‘If you want to leave, leave, and if you don’t, stay and compete,'” Dillingham told them, he explained to Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo on Tuesday. “But if you run, you’re gonna run forever from competition. Jaden and Trenton both said, ‘Great. No issue. No problem. Let’s go, bring somebody in.’ So I went and I found the best person to go compete with them for the job.”

Dillingham searched for another signal caller and landed Michigan State transfer Sam Leavitt, who played four games as a true freshman last season.

Leavitt was presented the same set of circumstances as Rashada and Bourguet.

“I said, ‘Listen, it’s an open competition. You can ask them, I told them the same thing,'” Dillingham said. “‘Now, am I gonna guarantee you a job to get you here? No. Are other schools gonna promise you a job to get you to transfer there? Yes, they’re full of crap because nobody can promise you a job. Eventually, you’re going to have to win something. So you can come here, you know whom you’re competing versus, I’m not going to take another transfer. Win the job, point blank.'”

Dillingham appreciates the balance in the quarterbacks room with the youthful and talented Rashada and Leavitt along with sixth-year senior Bourguet. Rashada and Bourguet have remained supportive of the program on social media as transfer news breaks.

Fellow quarterbacks Drew Pyne and Jacob Conover have transferred out.

The Sun Devils have been busy in the portal with 22 incoming players, four of whom announced their commitments last weekend. Former four-star recruits defensive back Cole Martin from Oregon and running back Raleek Brown from USC are among the class.

Dillingham said ASU has become a deeper and bigger football team this offseason after injuries and talent shortages doomed his squad for much of his first year at the helm.

The head coach said he’d love to get to a place where 70% of his roster is recruited and 30% are transfers, but he also made the point that transfer portal students are not mercenaries.

“If you look at the kids we signed in the portal, only one kid does not have two to three years left,” Dillingham said. “We didn’t target portal kids to go win next year only. We targeted portal kids who had two, three, sometimes four years left to build a culture. So I don’t think I box it into portal versus high school. It’s how many years do they have left. Because some high school kids only are there for three to four years. What’s different from that and the portal kid who has three?”

Brown and Martin, for example, have three years of eligibility remaining. Leavitt has four, just like Rashada.

Dillingham said he sees Martin as a “high school transfer” from Basha HS, since he has time to help build the culture in Tempe.

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