Kenny Dillingham’s first football signing class at ASU ripe with new talent

New ASU football coach Kenny Dillingham cleaned up last week on National Signing Day and landed arguably the nation’s top quarterback recruit in Jaden Rashada. (Photo by Nikash Nath/Cronkite News)

TEMPE – A year ago, in what would be the last offseason of the Herm Edwards era, the Arizona State football recruiting class ranked last in the Pac-12 and 103rd in the country after National Signing Day.

After this year’s signing day last week, new head coach Kenny Dillingham and his staff built a class ranked ninth in the conference and 47th overall, per 247 Sports. The class was highlighted by one of the highest-rated high school commits in recent history, four-star quarterback Jaden Rashada, who broke the news of his plans to join ASU on Twitter.

“I’ll be attending Arizona State University, my childhood dream school, my alma [mater], a place where I’m happy and a school where the [h]ead [c]oach has always had my back,” Rashada said. “Can’t wait to carry on the family name at the [u]niversity and start my journey!”

ASU football is a tradition in the Rashada family. Jaden’s father, Harlen, played defensive back for the Sun Devils from 1992-1994, tallying two interceptions over three seasons in Tempe.

The decision for Rashada to become a Sun Devil came less than two months after signing a national letter of intent to the University of Florida. Almost a month to the day later, he decommitted from Florida and, a week after, took an unofficial visit to national championship runner-up TCU.

Arizona State was one of the first programs to give Rashada an offer in 2020 under the direction of Edwards. As Rashada’s tweet suggests, the relationship with ASU’s new coach ultimately led to his commitment.

“I have some connections in the QB private training world from my time coaching guys at my prior schools,” Dillingham said. “They want to send kids for somebody they trust.”

The 6-foot-4, 185-pound quarterback threw for 3,055 yards and 32 touchdowns in his senior season at Pittsburg High School in California. He joins an already talented quarterback room that includes last year’s starter Trenton Bourguet and Notre Dame transfer Drew Pyne.

“The reality is, everywhere around the country, you’re gonna compete against four or five guys,” ASU offensive coordinator Beau Baldwin said. “At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what you did before, it’s about what you’re doing right now.”

A long list of accolades follows Rashada’s name. He is the 31st-ranked overall prospect in the ESPN 300, the highest-ranked recruit to sign with Arizona State since the 2020 class and a top-5 rated prospect of all time to become a Sun Devil. But what made him an appealing prospect was more than what he could do on the field.

“This is a really, really good kid who wanted to be an Arizona State Sun Devil,” Dillingham said. “This is a kid who gets to live out his dream, and that’s pretty special.”

Dillingham and his staff brought in a record 43 new signees to the program, which only further breeds competition at each position on the field. Each player will get a chance to compete, but no one is guaranteed a starting position.

“We’re looking for guys to come in, have a mindset to learn, to grow, to listen,” Dillingham said.
“They didn’t get promised anything other than an opportunity to be pushed to a level they’ve never been pushed … in an environment where you can have a lot of fun getting better.”

Paul Schulz pawl shults (he/him)
Sports Broadcast Reporter, Phoenix

Paul Schulz expects to graduate in May 2024 with a bachelor’s degree in sports journalism before pursuing master’s in mass communication. Schulz is the president of Inferno Intel and has interned with Arizona’s Family and Varsity Sports Show in broadcasting and production roles.

Nikash Nath nih-KAUSH nath
Sports Visual Journalist, Phoenix

Nikash Nath expects to graduate in May 2023 with a bachelor’s degree in sports journalism. Nath, who is assigned to the Cronkite sports bureau this semester, has interned with Arizona Sports and Times Media Group.