Syndication: Arizona Republic

Jaden Rashada has won the Arizona State quarterback battle, according to multiple reports, after the freshman battled with three more experienced quarterbacks for the job. Nonetheless, he's earned the trust of first-year coach Kenny Dillingham during preseason camp to lead the Sun Devils offense to begin the 2023 season.

A former four-star prospect, Rashada beat out Notre Dame transfer Drew Pyne, returner Trenton Bourguet and BYU transfer Jacob Conover, although Pyne has been hampered during camp with a hamstring injury. The Sun Devils open the season against Southern Utah on Aug. 31 before hosting Oklahoma State on Sept. 9 as Dillingham looks to turn the fortunes of a program that finished 3-9 last season.

Relying on a freshman at such an important position marks a bold beginning to Dillingham's head coaching tenure. Dillingham, 33, is the youngest Power Five head coach in the country after developing his reputation as an offensive coordinator at Memphis, Auburn, Florida State and Oregon.

Pyne suffered a hamstring injury on Aug. 12 and his status has remained uncertain since, clearing the way for Rashada to take the first snaps of the season. Rashada appeared to be the frontrunner coming out of ASU's scrimmage last week after 247Sports reported that he took extensive first-team reps. 

Rashada, the No. 44 overall player and sixth-ranked QB in the 2023 class, had originally signed with Florida during the early signing period in December 2022. Shortly after, however, he requested a release from his national letter of intent as rumors swirled of issues with name, image and likeness. The Gators eventually granted the release and Rashada subsequently committed to the Sun Devils on Feb. 1 after also visiting with TCU.

Rarified air

Rashada will become the second freshman to start a season-opener at quarterback for ASU, joining Jayden Daniels, who did so during the 2019 season. Among Class of 2023 quarterbacks who landed at Power Five schools, Rashada is also the first to be named a starter. While other freshman such as UCLA's Dante Moore and Iowa State's JJ Kohl are in the mix for early reps at quarterback, there's a good chance Rashada will be the only freshman to start at the position in Week 1.

Daniels set an excellent precedent in the same situation by leading the Sun Devils to an 8-5 record in 2019 while throwing for 17 touchdowns and just two interceptions. Ultimately, he transferred to LSU last season after struggling to build off that season while playing under former coach Herm Edwards.

Not Dillingham's first rodeo

Dillingham has successfully mentored a freshman quarterback before as he was the offensive coordinator under Gus Malzahn at Auburn in 2019 when quarterback Bo Nix won SEC Freshman of the Year while leading Auburn to a 9-4 record. Nix was the first freshman to start a season opener for the Tigers since 1946 but clearly felt comfortable with Dillingham. It was only once the two reunited at Oregon last season that Nix began to build off the results he posted as a freshman. With Rashada, he has yet another high-upside quarterback.

Intriguing weapons

Arizona State will need a patchwork offensive line filled with transfers to gel quickly in order to protect Rashada. But, if given time, the young quarterback will have some intriguing weapons to help him out. The Sun Devils return three proven pass-catchers in receivers Elijah Badger and Giovanni Sanders along with productive tight end Jalin Conyers. Sacramento State transfer running back Cameron Skattebo could also be an impact player for ASU after winning Big Sky Offensive Player of the Year honors in 2022.

Given Dillingham's offensive track record, the Sun Devils could be potent, especially against some of the weaker defenses on their schedule. Ultimately, the team's ceiling may depend on whether its defensive front can hold up during a challenging back half of the schedule.