About a week ago, junior college transfer wide receiver Eric Lauderdale verbally committed to ASU. This is a huge boost to coach Todd Graham’s recruiting class. Lauderdale was highly sought after. He had several impressive offers, including Oregon. All of the recruiting services label him a 4 star recruit and rank him in the top 25 wide receivers available in the nation.
The book on Lauderdale is that he is a possession receiver. The 6’2”, 200 pound Georgia native is not considered a “burner”, but rather a big target that can cause matchup problems and go get the ball. Many around the ASU program liken him to current Sun Devil receiver, Jaelon Strong. Strong, in his first year with ASU was among the conference leaders in receiving last season. He was a beast to defend, especially when he ran the back shoulder fade route. Apparently, Lauderdale will be in the same mold.
Lauderdale’s talents will no doubt be welcomed by the ASU staff and the offensive players. However, one has to wonder how the coaching staff is going to handle all these receivers. As of today, there are nine wide receivers returning next year, including Strong. Plus, ASU has recruited 2 other very talented high school players at the receiver position. Assuming those two recruits red shirt next season, that still leaves 10 receivers on the roster. In coach-speak, that’s a lot of mouths to feed.
Admittedly, this is a good problem to have. But the wide receiver position at all levels is notorious for being a “diva” position. Wide receivers all around the country have the reputation for wanting the ball. They want 8 catches a game and aren’t happy if they don’t get it. This is not necessarily an indictment of the current ASU receiving corps—just an observation from a trained eye.
The ASU offense gets a lot of snaps, throwing the ball quite a bit. And offensive coordinator Mike Norvell likes to line up in a lot of spread formations. But even if ASU lines up in an empty formation, they would have 5 receivers on the field at once. That leaves 5 receivers on the bench. And ASU doesn’t run empty very often. There could be some unhappy campers in that receiver group.
This is not to say that ASU will have issues here. In the end, playing time and overall happiness falls on the players. Coaches have an obligation to play the best players—the ones that produce. It will be interesting to see how Lauderdale will fit in with this group and how his arrival will affect the depth chart and personnel packages.