ASU’s Todd Graham counting on big things from Jaelen Strong

Aug 16, 2013, 11:39 PM | Updated: 11:39 pm

If you’re headed to Arizona State’s scrimmage at Camp Tontozona Saturday, you may be asking “who is number 21 on offense.”

The answer is Jaelen Strong, a transfer from Pierce College in California. The wide receiver has only been with the Sun Devils for a short time, but his head coach is expecting him to make a big impact for his new team in 2013.

“Jaelen is really going to be a great force for us,” Graham said following Friday’s practice. “He hasn’t done anything yet, but he’s got unbelievable potential to do some great things.

“In pretty good coverage, he’s making some plays over the top of people, so he’s a guy that stuck out to me.”

Strong was rated as the fifth-best junior college wide receiver prospect in this class by after catching 67 passes for 1,263 yards and 15 touchdowns last season.

The Philadelphia native is being counted on to infuse some life into a unit that accounted for only 44 percent of ASU’s total receptions in 2012.

Strong got off to a slow start at Camp T, but according to Graham, that’s because he’s playing catch-up. The sophomore wasn’t academically cleared when the rest of his teammates started fall camp.

“He had to learn the system,” Graham said. “He doesn’t know what he’s doing, I think. The guy’s only been practicing for like five days or something like that.”

Strong agrees with his coach.

“I had a couple big catches, but I’ve still got a lot of things to work on,” he said. “I had some mental mistakes out there on the field, working with plays and stuff. The catching is going to come easy because I’ve been doing that since I was young, so that’s not really the main thing for me right now.

“The main thing for me right now is focusing on getting my plays right, stop making mental errors and just doing everything right and moving fast.”

Strong is part of a new-look receiving corps that will also feature his former junior college teammate, Joe Morris, along with freshmen Ronald Lewis and Cameron Smith.

Although he hasn’t been on the field long, Graham notices one thing that’s very promising as the Sun Devils creep closer to their season opener against Sacramento State in early September.

“You want to see a quarterback and a guy get a feel for each other and Taylor (Kelly) and him are starting to get a feel for each other,” he said. “So they’ve got to do a whole bunch at the end of practice — you’ll notice every day we do fade work and ball drill work and things like that.

“He is a phenomenal, gifted player, the kind of player that we want in our system that we have not had is a big, physical receiver like that.”

The Sun Devils’ annual Camp Tontozona scrimmage will start at 10:00 a.m. Saturday morning.

Penguin Air

Arizona State Football

A Arizona State Sun Devils pylon with a football during the NCAAF game against the USC Trojans at S...
Arizona Sports

Pac-12 Conference to begin negotiations for next media rights agreements

The Pac-12 Board of Directors met on Tuesday and authorized the conference to immediately begin negotiations for new media rights agreements.
2 days ago
(AP Photo/Ralph Freso)...
Arizona Sports

Pac-12 exploring all expansion options with USC, UCLA heading to Big Ten

The Pac-12 is looking into expansion following the decisions from USC and UCLA on Thursday to head to the Big Ten as early as 2024.
6 days ago
Basketballs are rolled off the court during the NCAAB game at McKale Center on January 03, 2022 in ...
Arizona Sports

Arizona ‘extremely disappointed’ in USC, UCLA leaving Pac-12 for Big Ten

The Arizona Wildcats broke their silence Friday regarding USC's and UCLA's plans to leave the Pac-12 for the Big Ten as early as 2024.
6 days ago
UCLA plays Oregon during a Pac-12 NCAA college football game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., ...
Arizona Sports

UCLA, USC to leave Pac-12 for Big Ten in 2024

UCLA and USC will be leaving the Pac-12 for the Big Ten, beginning in the 2024-25 season, the two schools confirmed on Thursday evening.
7 days ago
Defensive back Jordan Clark #1 of the Arizona State Sun Devils celebrates with the Territorial Cup ...
Nikash Nath

Kyle Soelle, Jordan Clark ready to lead new faces for ASU football

ASU junior CB Jordan Clark and senior captain LB Kyle Soelle are expected to lead a Sun Devils defensive that'll have many new faces in 2022.
13 days ago
Arizona State Sun Devils offensive lineman LaDarius Henderson (77) lines up during the college foot...
Nikash Nath

Arizona State OL LaDarius Henderson talks new culture amid low expectations

OL LaDarius Henderson has been with ASU since 2019 and is no stranger to experiencing personnel and cultural changes within the program.
22 days ago
ASU’s Todd Graham counting on big things from Jaelen Strong