ASU football digest: 8 Arizona State players earn Athlons preseason honors

Eight Arizona State football players have earned recognition from Athlon Sports which has published its preseason Pac-12 All-Conference teams in advance of the 2022 season.

The nine total selections (one player named twice) are the third-most in the Pac-12 South.

Return specialist D.J. Taylor highlights the group as the first team punt returner, also earning second team kick returner distinction. Taylor was one of only three players to appear twice on the list.

Other second team honorees included running back Xazavian Valladay, offensive lineman LaDarius Henderson, and linebacker Merlin Robertson.

Offensive lineman Ben Scott and linebacker Kyle Soelle landed on the third team. Rounding out the selections were defensive lineman Nesta Jade Silvera and defensive back Khoury Bethley, who were selected to the fourth team.

Former coach, kicker on Hall of Fame induction ballot

Former Arizona State football player Luis Zendejas and former head coach Darryl Rogers are among those on the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) portion of the 2023 College Football Hall of Fame induction ballot announced by the Hall and The National Football Foundation (NFF) Monday.

The 2023 ballot includes 80 players and nine coaches from the Football Bowl Subdivision and 96 players and 33 coaches from the divisional ranks. Zendejas is on the ballot for the third consecutive year, while Rogers' name appears for the fourth time.

The announcement of the 2023 College Football Hall of Fame Class will be made in early 2023, with specific details to be announced in the future. The 2023 College Football Hall of Fame Class will be officially inducted during the 65th NFF Annual Awards Dinner on Dec. 5, 2023, and permanently immortalized at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta. They will also be honored at their respective schools with an NFF Hall of Fame On-Campus Salute, during the 2023 season.

Zendejas left Arizona State as the NCAA's all-time leading scorer, finishing with 380 points. He was named a consensus first-team All-American after a historic 1983 campaign. He remains Arizona State's all-time leader in single-season field goals made, with 28 in 1983. Zendejas completed his career with 81 made field goals, the second-highest mark by a Sun Devil.

By the time his career in Tempe came to an end, Zendejas had claimed several NCAA records that have since been surpassed. However, he still holds the NCAA record for most times making three or more field goals in a game during a season, accomplishing the feat six times in 1983. The four-time Pac-10 All-Conference selection was inducted into the Sun Devil Athletics Hall of Fame in 1995.

Former ASU football coach Darryl Rogers accepts his plaque as he is inducted into the ASU Hall of Fame at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe AZ, on Sept. 22, 2012.
Former ASU football coach Darryl Rogers accepts his plaque as he is inducted into the ASU Hall of Fame at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe AZ, on Sept. 22, 2012.

Darryl Rogers went 37-18-1 with ASU from 1980 through 1984 and defeated Oklahoma, 32-21, in the 1982 Fiesta Bowl. He also coached at Cal State East Bay (formerly Cal State Hayward) (1965), Fresno State (1966-72), San Jose State (1973-75), and Michigan State (1976-79). He took Fresno State to two bowl games while achieving an unprecedented national ranking at San Jose State. He was named Big Ten Coach of the Year in 1977 and National Coach of the Year by Sporting News in 1978. He won the Big Ten title in 1978.

Defensive tackle Jermayne Lole headed to Louisville

Even when Arizona State defensive tackle Jermayne Lole put his name in the NCAA transfer portal, there was still some hope he might remain in the Sun Devils program because he hadn't closed the door on that possibility.

But Lole is indeed moving on after committing to Louisville Friday after a visit to the school. That announcement came before other trips he had planned to Florida, Texas Tech, and Pac-12 foe Oregon.

Oregon State quarterback Jake Luton (6) is sacked by Arizona State defensive linemen Jermayne Lole and Roe Wilkins during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Corvallis, Ore., Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019.
Oregon State quarterback Jake Luton (6) is sacked by Arizona State defensive linemen Jermayne Lole and Roe Wilkins during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Corvallis, Ore., Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019.

Lole sat out last season, after sustaining a torn triceps injury in late August. That injury eventually required surgery. He participated in some spring drills on a limited basis did not partake in any contact activity.

Lole, a 6-foot-3, 305-pounder, was a three-year starter for the Sun Devils before that injury and was regarded as the No. 2 ranked available prospect in the transfer portal by 247Sports.

Lole, who came to ASU from Long Beach Poly (Calif.) High School, recorded 123 tackles, 20 of which were for loss, and 11 sacks in his three years at ASU. He was ranked as Pro Football Focus' 24th-best player in college football heading into 2021.

There was some thought he might explore the draft after last season despite the injury but decided in late November to return for another season in college.

Lole has dealt with considerable adversity in his ASU tenure, even before the injury. In late 2020 he lost three relatives close to him, including his father and a brother.

The defensive line is considered perhaps the strongest unit for the Sun Devils, even with the loss of Lole. Omarr Norman-Lott, who inherited considerable playing time last year with Lole out, also put his name in the portal but opted to return to ASU and looms as the favorite to start at the three-technique tackle spot

Former standout Tyler Johnson headed to the CFL

Former Arizona State defensive end Tyler Johnson has signed with the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League.

Johnson, a 6-foot-4, 280-pounder out of Highland High School, was not drafted but recently participated in mini-camp with the Baltimore Ravens.

Johnson was a first-team All-Pac-12 selection the past season, the only Sun Devil to earn that distinction. He registered 36 tackles, 8.5 tackles for a loss, four sacks, and two fumble recoveries.

In his career, Johnson racked up 112 tackles, 29.5 tackles for a loss and 15.5 sacks.

Johnson was selected to participate in the Hula Bowl but was snubbed when it came to an invite to the NFL combine. He tried to increase his draft status with his showing in ASU's Pro Day with marks of 4.81 in the 40, 19 reps in the bench press, and 7.54 in the three-cone drill.

Johnson is the ninth ASU player to sign with a professional team. Four were drafted and four others signed with NFL teams as free agents.

Former All-American Eric Gentry headed to USC

It was one thing for Arizona State's freshman All-American linebacker Eric Gentry to put his name in the transfer portal. It's another thing for him to decide his next school will be one of the Sun Devils biggest rivals.

But Gentry is indeed staying in the Pac-12 and will play at USC as word of that move spread on social media Friday.

No doubt there were numerous suitors for the 6-foot-6, 200-pounder from Philadelphia who earned Freshman All-American honors last season by ESPN, Pro Football Focus, 247 Sports, Pro Football Network and the FWAA. He was the first consensus Freshman All-American at Arizona State since fellow linebacker Merlin Robertson in 2018.

Gentry started the final three games of 2021 with starter Darien Butler sidelined with a concussion. Gentry's rookie campaign ended with a start in the Las Vegas Bowl against Wisconsin in which he collected five tackles and one tackle for loss.

He finished his first season with 45 tackles, five tackles for loss, one sack, and two pass breakups while playing in all 13 games. He was one of just three true freshman linebackers in the Pac-12 to play at least 250 snaps. The highlight of the season came on a crucial fourth down stop, when he tackled UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson in the backfield for a momentum-changing play.

Gentry was expected to fill the starting role previously occupied by the graduated Butler and was widely considered one of last season's breakout stars.

Nov 27, 2021; Tempe, Arizona, USA; Arizona State Sun Devils linebacker Eric Gentry (9) tackles Arizona Wildcats quarterback Will Plummer (15) during the 95th Territorial Cup game at Sun Devil Stadium.
Nov 27, 2021; Tempe, Arizona, USA; Arizona State Sun Devils linebacker Eric Gentry (9) tackles Arizona Wildcats quarterback Will Plummer (15) during the 95th Territorial Cup game at Sun Devil Stadium.

Gentry participated in all of ASU's spring practices and appeared happy to be in Tempe with his move reportedly coming down to NIL deals with him expecting to garner well into six figures in such endorsements.

The loss of Gentry is one of many blows the program has taken in recent months. The cloud of the NCAA investigation remains and is no closer to being resolved than it was months ago.  ASU has also been woefully behind other schools when it comes to coming up with NIL-type programs that might keep players in the fold.

2 offensive linemen headed to the transfer portal

Red-shirt senior Spencer Lovell and red-shirt freshman Ezra Dotson-Oyetade are the latest Arizona State players headed to the transfer portal. Both were backup offensive linemen.

The 6-foot-6, 325-pounder has been primarily a backup in his time in Tempe. He did start three of the last four games of the season including the Las Vegas Bowl against Wisconsin at right guard as a fill-in for senior starter Henry Hattis, who was injured.

Lovell, a native of Fort Collins, Colorado, saw some reps with the first team early in spring drills last month but that was largely because other players were missing.

Dotson-Oyetade, a 6-3, 270-pounder from Texas, did not play in any games last season and was redshirted after arriving in Tempe in 2020 as a four-star prospect. He was also the No. 43 recruit in Texas in the class.

The Sun Devils have two starters up front returning in Ben Scott and LaDarius Henderson with Scott moving to center from right tackle. They lost three starters but brought in some reinforcements on the offensive line in Chris Martinez (San Diego State) and Des Holmes (Penn State), both of whom joined the team in January.

They added another transfer starter this week in local product Joey Ramos, a former starter at Iowa State. In addition, the Sun Devils are high on sophomore Isaia Glass who has been progressing and took some first-team reps in the spring.

Wide receiver LV Bunkley-Shelton the latest Sun Devil to transfer

The Arizona State football team was already in need of wide receivers but that position took another hit as red-shirt sophomore LV Bunkley-Shelton has decided to seek playing time elsewhere and indicated that on social media Thu.

He is the second wide receiver to enter the portal, following the lead of Rick Pearsall who did so last week. That also means ASU will be without its four top pass catchers from last season.

The Sun Devils are down to five scholarship wide receivers who combined for 32 receptions for 377 yards and one touchdown last year. The best left is Andre Johnson who had 12 catches for 186 yards.

Bunkley-Shelton, a 5-foot-11, 195-pounder, was a limited participant in spring drills last month after having foot surgery during the offseason. Last season he recorded 33 catches for 418 yards and two touchdowns. His best game came against Colorado when he had four reception for 76 yards.

In two years (16 games) Bunkley-Shelton tallied 44 catches for 518 yards.

ASU was also working him in special teams. He had six punt returns for 28 yards with a long of 12 yards last season.

Sunday is the deadline for player to enter the portal and still be able to play in the fall unless they do so as a graduate student.

Deer Valley product Joey Ramos headed to ASU

The Arizona State football program is a work in progress up front, having to replace three starters on the offensive line. A local product is looking to be a key factor in that transformation as Deer Valley graduate Joey Ramos indicated on social media today he is transferring from Iowa State to ASU.

The 6-foot-5, 305-pounder played in all 13 games for the Cyclones last year, primarily on special teams.

But in 2020 he played in eight games, starting five of those. That season the Iowa State group was named one of 11 semifinalists for the Joe Moore Award which is presented annually to the nation's top offensive lines. That year the team set a school record for rushing touchdowns (31) and posted the second-best scoring offense (32.9) in school history.

Ramos first joined the Iowa State program in 2018, redshirting in his initial collegiate season.

He had a lot of quality offers out of high school, eventually signing with Iowa State over suitors such as UCLA, Oregon and Washington, with both ASU and Arizona also offering him. He was dubbed a three-star recruit by 247Sports, Rivals and ESPN with Rivals pegging him a top-30 guard nationally and 247Sports putting him in the top 50 in addition to singling him out as the sixth-best prospect in the state.

Ramos participated in the Under Armour All-America Camp in 2017 and was invited to the 2018 East vs. West All-star game at AT&T Stadium. He was a three-time all-state selection and also competed in wrestling.

ASU graduated two starters from the past season in Kellen Diesch and Henry Hattis with a third, junior Dohnovan West declaring for the draft. Both Diesch and West are projected NFL draft picks with that event getting underway on Thursday in Las Vegas.

ASU adds transfer from Auburn

The Arizona State football program picked up a second player in as many days and this one should have an impact.

The newest addition is cornerback Roterius Torrance, who is transferring from Auburn but previously played at Hutchinson Community College (Kan.), a two-year school with an impressive track record in athletics. He will have two years of eligibility remaining and was snatched up by the Sun Devils a month after putting his name in the transfer portal.

It is a position of need for ASU which graduated its two starters in Chase Lucas and Jack Jones. The lone returning player in that position with significant experience is Timarcus Davis who played when each was out at different times.

The 6-foot-4, 197-pounder played in 10 games at Auburn last season, mostly on special teams. He managed five tackles, a breakup and forced a fumble.

Before that he excelled at Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College where he earned National Junior College Athletic Association's Defensive Player of the Year and first-team All-American honors He ignited his team to  its first NJCAA national championship in 2020. In eight games that season Torrance tallied 28 tackles, six pass breakups and one interception. He allowed just one pass completion in coverage.

Torrance was tabbed the No. 25 overall prospect and No. 4 cornerback in his junior college class in the  247Sports Composite rankings. He was first committed to Tennessee but flipped to Auburn a week later after receiving the  Auburn offer

Torrance, who is from Bessemer, Alabama, is a product of Bessemer City High School which is about two hours from the Auburn campus.

California QB becomes first recruit of 2021 cycle

The Arizona State football program has landed its first recruit for the 2023 class and it is quarterback Israel Carter out of Corona Centennial (Calif.).

The 6-foot-1, 180-pounder has been to Arizona State twice on unofficial visits, one of those occasions coming earlier this month when the Sun Devils wrapped up spring drills with their "Spring Showcase."

Carter had 10 offers but is only now wrapping up his junior season. ASU was in his final four schools along with other Pac-12 foes in Colorado and Oregon as well as Brigham Young. UNLV, Nevada and Washington State were among his other suitors.

Carter said ASU had been looking at him as far back as the eighth grade. He had been seriously considering ASU and that didn't change even when a new offensive coordinator came on board in Glenn Thomas.

"I really liked coach Herm (Edwards) and the other coaches," said Carter, while waiting for a flight to Las Vegas where he will be competing in a 7-on-7 tournament this weekend. "I really felt like they wanted me and we have been building a good relationship and I really appreciate that."

As a junior, Carter split reps with another quarterback in playing for a program that is one of the finest in Southern California. He threw for 844 yards and eight touchdowns with just one interception while completing 60% of his passes and rushing for 316 yards and eight more scores. He helped the Huskies to an 11-1 showing their season ending with a 21-16 loss to national power Mater Dei.

Carter had been tabbed by 247Sports as the No. 47 quarterback nationally and the No, 74 player out of talent-laden California.

Carter said he wasn't concerned about the ongoing NCAA investigation into recruiting violations that has yet to be resolved. He also didn't feel the need to wait and see if other higher profile offers were going to come in.

"I talked with Coach Herm about that and he said they are trying to put that behind them and move on with this coaching staff. He was very honest about everything," he said. "I am happy with this decision and it's the place I want to be."

Reach the reporter at or 602 444-4783.  Follow her on Twitter @MGardnerSports.

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: 8 Arizona State football players earn Athlons preseason honors