TEMPE, Ariz. — ASU has had some big-time wide receivers over the past few years from Jalen Strong to N'Keal Harry and Brandon Aiyuk, and now one former Valley high school football star is hoping to follow in their footsteps.
Ricky Pearsall starred at Corona del Sol High School in Tempe, where he played varsity for three years and posted back-to-back 1,000 all-purpose yard seasons. He also set a 6A record with 342 receiving yards against the Gilbert Tigers in 2017.
He signed with ASU as a three-star prospect in 2019 and was one of 21 true freshmen to play for the Sun Devils that fall.
During his first two years on campus, Pearsall has looked up on the depth chart at names such as Aiyuk, who was selected 25th overall by the San Francisco 49ers in 2020, and Frank Darby, who was selected in the sixth round by the Atlanta Falcons in May.
However, despite the team missing a clear-cut number one target for quarterback Jayden Daniels, Pearsall said ASU's passing game is improving.
"I think we took really big strides with spring ball and obviously fall and this camp," Pearsall said. "I believe we're a totally different passing team. We've got young guys and people that haven't been with Jayden for many years to develop that connection and with Frank leaving, obviously, a new receiver needs to step up."
Pearsall is confident that he can be that receiver but added that the key to the Sun Devils' success in the passing game will be all of the receivers stepping up.
"I believe it's going to be everybody that's going to step up," Pearsall said. "It's not just going to be that one solo receiver, it's going to be everybody and that's going to make us a really strong group."
Pearsall's main competition for the number one receiver job is his teammate and friend, redshirt freshman LV Bunkley-Shelton.
"Me and LV compete every day at practice, I think that's a really healthy relationship for us because it obviously makes us better each and every day going hard at practice," Pearsall said.
Sun Devil Offensive Coordinator Zak Hill said he is still looking for one of the receivers to stand out.
"I think that whole group, in general, there's some talent in there," Hill said. "The consistency in a few guys has been there. Ricky's done a good job being consistent, and LV's been consistent. I just think that whole group, from a total consistency standpoint, hasn't really been there yet. We're looking to see what guys are really going to stand out and what guys are going to be consistent day in and day out."
But even if he is not the number one wide receiver when ASU kicks off their season on September 2nd at Sun Devil Stadium vs. Southern Utah, Pearsall is still excited to take the field and play in front of his friends and family in his hometown.
"It's going to be really exciting, especially because last year we couldn't have any fans," Pearsall said. "Having a bunch of family and friends here, having my mom, my dad, my sisters come to the game, it's going to be really exciting."
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