TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Jaden Rashada was criticized for decommitting from Miami. Same thing when he left Florida after an NIL deal fell through.
When he arrived at Arizona State, Rashada found himself No. 3 in the pecking order as he tried to figure out the Sun Devils' system and how to play quarterback at the college level.
Through months of hard work and persistence, Rashada earned the job as Arizona State's starting quarterback.
“Everything happens for a reason. I'm a firm believer of that,” Rashada said Wednesday. “The journey to get here was crazy, but it makes sense every day why I'm here. I've beyond grateful.”
Rashada had a long road to starting against Southern Utah on Aug. 31.
One of the nation's top quarterback recruits coming out of Pittsburg, California, Rashada first signed a letter of intent to play at Miami. Rashada later flipped his commitment to Florida, drawing the ire of Hurricanes fans.
Reportedly set to receive a massive NIL deal at Florida, Rashada asked for his release from the Gators in January after the deal fell through, inciting the wrath of another fan base.
When Rashada arrived at Arizona State, he was third on the depth chart behind returner Trenton Bourguet and Notre Dame transfer Drew Pyne.
“He got almost no reps in spring because he didn’t know what he was doing," Arizona State first-year coach Kenny Dillingham said. “He started off as No. 3 in camp because he was learning what to do, but he just kept learning, kept battling and he deserved it.”
Rashada initially was in a three-way competition with Bourguet and Pyne, gradually earning first-team reps. When Pyne suffered a hamstring injury in the Sun Devils' scrimmage, the race came down to Bourguet and Rashada.
Rashada earned the starting nod, at least for the opener, based on his big arm, athleticism and quick ability to pick up the offense.
“He got better every single day,” Dillingham said. “His completion percentage the last week and a half of practice skyrocketed."
A former four-star recruit, Rashada has good size at 6-foot-4, 185 pounds with an ability to avoid the rush and extend plays. The freshman can hit the deep ball, but also has a nice touch on shorter throws while getting the ball out quickly.
Rashada put in the work to understand and execute the offense in a short period of time.
"This is big, something I've always dreamed about since I was a kid, but there's a lot of work to do, a lot to accomplish," Rashada said. “I believe we're taking the right steps.”
Rashada has taken a huge one. He hopes to take the Sun Devils with him.
AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll