Before last week’s game against Utah, ASU linebackers coach Antonio Pierce jokingly asked junior wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk where the promising playmaker he had heard so much about was.
Aiyuk came to the Sun Devils out of Sierra Community College in Northern California and was expected to excel as a wide receiver and return specialist but the 6-foot-1, 195-pounder has had limited opportunities given the presence of juniors N’Keal Harry and Kyle Williams and sophomore Frank Darby.
Aiyuk answered that challenge by hauling in six passes for a season-high 101 yards in the Sun Devils’ 38-20 win over the Utes on Saturday at Sun Devil Stadium. Four of his six receptions went for first downs.
On the season he now has 17 catches for 279 yards with his lone touchdown of 12 yards coming in the loss to San Diego State.
He’ll hope to build on that effort Saturday as the Sun Devils (5-4, 3-3) play host to UCLA (2-7, 2-4) in ASU’s final home game of the season.
“That was the first game I really felt comfortable,” said Aiyuk, who has seen considerable time on return duty. “I got more playing time against USC (two weeks ago) and that helped but up until then I didn’t feel like I was in my element. I was just kind of anxious because I wasn’t playing as well as I wanted to.”
Earlier this week, ASU coach Herm Edwards praised the play of both Aiyuk and sophomore running back Isaiah Floyd, Aiyuk’s roommate and friend. Both came to ASU from two-year schools with Floyd coming over from City College of San Francisco.
Edwards said there is a learning curve for community college players just like there is for players coming from the high school ranks, although it might not be quite as steep.
Aiyuk, noted for his exceptional hand-eye coordination, had 17 offers from Division I schools after a two-year career in which he racked up 2,499 all-purpose yards and earned first team California Community College All-American honors.
He took visits to Tennessee, Kansas and Colorado State before deciding on ASU because of where he thought the program was headed with the new coaching staff in place.
Floyd ran 235 times for 1,797 yards and 21 touchdowns and had 13 receptions for 133 yards and two touchdowns in his only community college season. He didn’t have an offer out of high school, due mainly to his grades.
Floyd originally committed to New Mexico before changing his mind in favor of ASU.
“He (Aiyuk) comes out of junior college along with Floyd and I thought earlier in the season they were like freshman. They’re JC guys. It’s new to them, the speed of the game I think caught them both by surprise,” Edwards said. “They had some hiccups early, they’ve overcome those hiccups now, they’re…
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