Defensive tackle Will Sutton answered Arizona State’s biggest question Tuesday by announcing that he’ll stay for his senior season. Quarterback Michael Eubank quietly answered another one shortly thereafter: He’s not going anywhere.
There has been speculation that Eubank could explore transfer options with Taylor Kelly the incumbent starter with two years of eligibility left. Even the notion, though, caught Eubank off-guard when given the chance to preemptively squash any rumors.
“Me?” Eubank said, looking puzzled. “Without a doubt I’m here. People thought I was leaving?”
Some did, mostly because it would make some sense. Eubank possesses incredible athleticism, and coaches love his potential, but with Kelly having a breakout year and seemingly entrenching himself as the starter, Eubank might not get many more opportunities in 2013 than he did in 2012.
Coach Todd Graham told the Arizona Republic last month that there would not be a three-man quarterback competition — Mike Bercovici being the third man — in the fall as there was before this past season. Kelly has earned the right to be No. 1, Graham said, but that doesn’t guarantee his job.
“It’s not a three-man race,” Graham told the paper. “He’s got to be beaten out.”
That could serve as motivation for Eubank, who declined to share what coaches have told him about his playing time next season but said he’s prepared to earn more chances by showing coaches more of what he can do.
“I’ve just got to work hard each and every day, come ready with a different mindset than I had last season,” Eubank said. “I see what’s at stake, I see the opponents on our schedule and I see the things this team could do, so I’m just going to work my hardest to get in games.
“Every practice is an audition. Nothing is too set in stone.”
Eubank also admitted that his worrying about playing time in the first half of the season hindered his development. The second half, he said, was much more productive.
“I was too worried about not playing,” Eubank said. “It kind of blocked my mental aspect of the game. Once I got over that, I was able to expand myself mentally.”
Bercovici also is expected to return, according to a report on the asudevils.com recruiting site.
An athletic department source confirmed over the past few days that at least eight players, including four who were on scholarship, are no longer part of the program for various reasons.
The scholarship players were redshirt receiver/cornerback J.J. Holliday, a starter at receiver for the season opener who was later moved to defense and had just one catch and five games played this season; redshirt junior cornerback Jarrid Bryant, who played sparingly as a backup; redshirt freshman cornerback Joe Eason, a late addition to Dennis Erickson’s 2011 recruiting class; and redshirt freshman linebacker Brock Haman, a former Scottsdale Saguaro standout who transferred to ASU from Arkansas and sat out this season per NCAA transfer rules.
The others, all walk-ons, were redshirt junior cornerback Ronald Kennedy Jr., junior defensive tackle C.J. Ryan, redshirt freshman quarterback Danny Lewis and freshman quarterback Parker Rasmussen. None of the players saw game action this season.
ASU had a team meeting Sunday, and it’s possible more players were not present and thus no longer part of the program.
Recruiting service Scout.com revealed its final “Scout 300” rankings Wednesday with the Feb. 6 National Signing Day less than a month away, and ASU landed two players on the list.
At No. 136 is four-star Alpharetta, Ga., quarterback commit Joshua Dobbs, and at No. 148 is four-star Lakeside Blue Ridge linebacker Chans Cox, who has already signed with ASU and begun taking classes.
The list also features a couple of ASU’s top targets who remain uncommitted. Tempe Marcos De Niza defensive back Priest Willis, a five-star prospect, came in at No. 41 on the list, while four-star Phoenix Brophy receiver Devon Allen came in at No. 114.