Arizona State Sun Devils

TUCSON, AZ - NOVEMBER 28:  Safety James Johnson #18 of the Arizona State Sun Devils during the Territorial Cup college football game against the Arizona Wildcats at Arizona Stadium on November 28, 2014 in Tucson, Arizona. The Wildcats defeated the Sun Devils 42-35.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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James Johnson tweets decision to transfer from Arizona State

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Another day, another player leaving to look for greener playing time pastures.

The latest to suffer personnel attrition is Arizona State, with James Johnson taking to his personal Twitter account to announce his decision to transfer from the Sun Devils.  The defensive back will be graduating from ASU this May, which would allow him to play immediately at another FBS program for his final season of eligibility.

A three-star member of the Sun Devils’ 2013 recruiting class, Johnson was rated as the No. 84 safety in the country coming out of high school in California.  He held offers from, among others, Fresno State, Houston, Nevada and Oregon State.

After redshirting as a true freshman, Johnson played in 23 games the next two seasons. Injuries limited him to just one game this past season.

Nearly three dozen teams show interest in Clemson grad transfer

CLEMSON, SC - OCTOBER 01: Lamar Jackson #8 of the Louisville Cardinals looks to pass under pressure from Scott Pagano #56 of the Clemson Tigers during the second quarter at Memorial Stadium on October 1, 2016 in Clemson, South Carolina.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
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It was expected there would be a significant market for a Clemson defensive lineman leaving the Tigers as a graduate transfer. Suffice to say, that is indeed the case.

This past week, Dabo Swinney‘s football program confirmed that Scott Pagano would be leaving the team and transferring elsewhere. The head coach also revealed that the tackle would “probably” end up at a West Coast school to finish out his career.

Teams in that part of the country are indeed interested in the one-year rental, as are myriad others as 247Sports.com is reporting that 32 made contact with the lineman in the hours after his impending pending departure was announced. Arizona State, Cal, Oregon, USC, Washington and Hawaii are among the teams out west who have expressed interest.

A handful of Power Five programs further east have expressed interest as well, including Arkansas, Baylor, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisville, LSU, Maryland, Nebraska, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Ohio State, Ole Miss, Purdue, Texas and Texas A&M. Group Five teams that have shown interest include Charlotte, East Carolina, FAU, FIU, Louisiana Tech, Memphis, SMU, Temple and Utah State.

Coming out of high school in Hawaii as a four-star 2013 recruit, Pagano was rated as the No. 24 tackle in the country and the No. 2 player at any position in the state. Pagano started 13 games the past two seasons, four of which came in 2016.

North Texas a possibility for transferring Arizona State WR

TEMPE, AZ - AUGUST 28:  Wide receiver Ellis Jefferson #19 of the Arizona State Sun Devils celebrates with quarterback Mike Bercovici #2 after scoring a 15 yard touchdown reception against the Weber State Wildcats during the third quarter of the college football game at Sun Devil Stadium on August 28, 2014 in Tempe, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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A Pac-12 school’s loss could end up being a gain for one from Conference USA.

This past week, Ellis Jefferson decided to transfer from Arizona State and continue his collegiate playing career elsewhere.  That elsewhere could ultimately be North Texas, with the Denton Record-Chronicle‘s Brett Vito reporting that “it appears as if Jefferson has interest in UNT.”

Jefferson went to high school in Denton, and the wide receiver’s younger brother is following in his football footsteps at the same school.  Vito does add one important part of the transfer equation: “The question now is if UNT has interest in Jefferson.”

Given the talent he’d be bringing, the answer would seemingly be yes.

A three-star 2013 signee, Jefferson took a redshirt as a true freshman. The next two seasons, the 6-4, 200-pound receiver showed promise as he caught a combined 23 passes for 304 yards in 2014 and 2015. He had a pair of receiving touchdowns for good measure.

His production dropped precipitously last season as he caught just two touchdowns for 21 yards in 2016.

Jefferson would be eligible to play immediately in 2017 as a graduate transfer.  The upcoming season will be the receiver’s final year of eligibility.

Blake Barnett seems to think Nick Saban ruined his reputation

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 3: Blake Barnett #8 of the Alabama Crimson Tide throws against the USC Trojans in the first quarter during the AdvoCare Classic at AT&T Stadium on September 3, 2016 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
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With quarterback Blake Barnett looking to rebound after seeing his short career at Alabama not pan out the way it was initially expected, Barnett had a chance to reflect on his time at Alabama with the media as he opens spring with Arizona State.

“Things ended up the way they did,” said Barnett, who has been granted an exemption to be able to play for the Sun Devils this upcoming season. “To be honest, I’m not quite sure why. But I’m here now.”

Let’s cut straight to the chase. It’s because Jalen Hurts stepped in and dazzled when given an opportunity to lead Alabama’s offense. As Alabama was rolling their way to an undefeated regular season, SEC championship and third straight berth in the College Football Playoff, some took to arguing Hurts was worthy of Heisman Trophy consideration if Louisville’s Lamar Jackson (the eventual Heisman Trophy winner) dropped off down the stretch (which he did).

The story will go that Barnett did not play well in Alabama’s 2016 season opener against USC. Barnett completed five of six passes for 100 yards and a touchdown, but Jalen Hurts took the game by storm with four total touchdowns. Criticisms of Barnett appearing to be nervous in AT&T Stadium ran wild, and Nick Saban did nothing to quiet that idea down. In fact, he may have poured the proverbial gasoline on the fire for talk about Barnett being nervous. Saban commented on the possible nervousness during his brief halftime interview during the game and later addressed the importance of “not quitting” following the announcement Barnett was transferring in late September. Barnett was not oblivious to the comments coming from Saban.

“A lot of backlash that I received from [the USC game] was that I came out nervous,” Barnett said, according to ESPN.com. “I think you could ask just about every teammate and they’d agree that I wasn’t. But a certain coach went out to the media and said that I was and so I got that negative reputation from it.”

We get it. Top players want to have a shot at playing a key role, and sometimes that means players not getting the time they believe they have earned can lead to some sour situations. Did Barnett quit on Alabama, or is he fair to evaluate all of his options to find the best possible fit for him that may lead to a better opportunity?

Arizona State secures line coaches for both sides of the ball

TEMPE, AZ - OCTOBER 22:  Head coach Todd Graham of the Arizona State Sun Devils runs onto the field before the college football game against the Washington State Cougars at Sun Devil Stadium on October 22, 2016 in Tempe, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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The significant reshaping and retooling and rebuilding of Todd Graham‘s coaching staff this offseason has seemingly come to an end.

Arizona State confirmed Wednesday in a release the additions of line coaches Rob Sale and Michael Slater.  The former will take care of the offensive side of the ball, the latter the defensive side.

Sale will also carry the title of running-game coordinator for the Sun Devils.

“I’m very proud of the coaching staff that we have assembled at ASU,” said Graham. “It speaks volumes about ASU on how we are perceived nationally by other programs in being able to attract top-flight coaching talent.”

Sale was the line coach at Georgia in 2015 before moving on to Louisiana-Monroe for the 2016 season.  From 2007-11, he was a football staffer for Nick Saban at Alabama.

Slater had been the line coach at Kansas (2016) and Rice (2012-15) the past five seasons.

In addition to the two hirings, ASU also announced that Rob Likens has been promoted to co-offensive coordinator.  Likens also came from Kansas this offseason and was named as ASU’s wide receivers coach and passing-game coordinator in late December.  He’ll continue in those original roles in addition to his promotion.

Graham will head into spring practice, which kicks off in just over two weeks, with five new members on his nine-man on-field coaching staff.