After a rocky start, Threet finds a perfect fit at ASU
By Brian Price
Steven Threet's college experience has been a bit more turbulent than most, but after transferring from two other schools he seems to have settled in nicely at Arizona State.
After winning a tight battle for ASU's starting quarterback job, the Sun Devils are 2-0 behind Threet's big right arm and find themselves preparing for their biggest game of the season thus far, on the road against 11th-ranked Wisconsin.
As nice as it is to start the season with back-to-back wins, finding a good fit has not come easily for Threet. ASU is his third stop in his collegiate career. He came to Tempe, Ariz., after transferring from Michigan, where he arrived after switching from Georgia Tech.
A gifted prep athlete, Threet was a highly sought after recruit coming out of Adrian High School (Adrian, Mich.) where he accumulated nearly 5,000 yards and 49 touchdowns. Encouragement from his father and brother meant a lot and both nurtured his competitive edge. Threet was eager to form similar relationships with the coaching staff in college.
He committed to Georgia Tech in 2006 after a promising visit with the coaching staff. Soon after he arrived, several of his potential mentors left for different coaching jobs and, in their absence, Threet no longer felt Tech was the place to continue his collegiate career.
Joining Michigan as a transfer in 2007 seemed a better fit; he'd be close to his hometown of Adrian and would have a chance to compete with Ryan Mallett for the Wolverines' starting quarterback spot. Michigan had run a traditional offense that matched Threet's style of play. At 6-foot-6 the redshirt sophomore believed that working out of the pocket in a pro-style offense would pay off.
"I thought I'd found the opportunity to reach my full potential as a player," he said.
However, shortly after transferring, Lloyd Carr was out and Rich Rodriguez was in, which dramatically changed Michigan's traditional style of play to a fast-paced spread option offense.
Rodriguez and Threet worked together to merge their styles and, at times, things seemed to be coming together. After sitting out the 2007 season due to NCAA transfer rules, Threet came off the bench in the season opener against Utah to rally the Wolverines from 15 points down before ultimately losing 25-23. Later, he sparked the second greatest comeback in school history against Wisconsin by leading Michigan to 27-unanswered points and a 27-19 victory.
However, these high points came in the midst of 3-9 season, the first losing season for Michigan since 1967. Rodriguez was committed to finding new quarterbacks to run his offense.
"I can only concern myself with things I can control," Threet said. "Sometimes things happen and while I may not be thrilled with them at the time I just keep working as hard as I can and trust that things will work out they way they are supposed to."
And they did when he found Arizona State.
"He had been in two other places but felt ASU would fit him," Sun Devils head coach Dennis Erickson said. "It was his last shot and a tough decision to make."
ASU ran a traditional pro-style offense under Erickson, which would give Threet a chance to work out of the pocket, put the ball in the air, and not have to use his feet to move the chains.
"When I took my visit to ASU and got a chance to meet the players and the coaching staff I knew I had found the right place," Threet said.
Transfer rules forced Threet to sit out of the 2009 season, but he practiced as the scout team quarterback against the first team defense. Erickson noticed his impact immediately.
"Since the day he got here his attitude has been unbelievable," Erickson said. "He's a leader on this team even when he was on the scout team. We like where he's at, he's our quarterback and we're trying to do things that best fit him in our offense. He'll get better and better as the year goes on."
In the two victories this season, over Portland State and Northern Arizona, ASU has put up a combined 95 points, 705 total passing yards and notched a completion percentage of 65.1. Threet has thrown five touchdowns and leads the Pac-10 in passing yards per game (315.0) and total offense (322.5).
Now they get their first major test traveling to No. 11 Wisconsin.
"Going into Wisconsin provides us an opportunity to find out where we are as a team," Erickson said. "Given the level of competition of our first two games, we really don't know. Wisconsin is a big physical team with lots of All-Americans. They can run the ball and they have a great defense."
Facing a tough Big Ten team is nothing new for Threet, which could help steady the Sun Devil offense when trying to operate in front of a hostile Badger crowd. Plus, he beat Wisconsin for his first Big Ten win.
"I think the Big Ten experience helps me because I am familiar with the setting and with the loud crowds, so the shock value is taken off," Threet said. "It's better to be 1-0 than 0-1 against somebody. Hopefully we're not down 19-0, but there's always going to be ups and downs in every football game."
With Wisconsin, the Sun Devils begin a three-game stretch against ranked opponents, with No. 5 Oregon and No. 25 Oregon State to follow. But for now, the focus is on the Badgers.
"We're going to continue to do what we do, which is using the no-huddle to speed things up as much as we can in the beginning of the game," Erickson said. "We've got to move the ball and score some points."
It's going to be a big weekend: The Sun Devils' match-up against the Badgers is one of three games that will feature a Pac-10 school facing a Big Ten opponent this weekend (USC visits Minnesota and Arizona hosts Iowa) and Threet has experience in both.
"The Pac-10 and Big Ten are both storied conferences, and while there may be small differences in style of play, the passion is all the same," he said.
While his path to playing at ASU was a bit more traveled than most starting college quarterbacks, Threet has found his home in Tempe and has no regrets.
"I wouldn't be who I am or where I am today if I changed anything," Threet said. "I'm excited, now I have to go on the field and win games."