Transfer wide receiver Jaelen Strong has had an instant impact on offense for the Arizona State Sun Devils. Through only two games Strong has caught 12 passes for 162 yards and a touchdown — he leads the ASU receivers in each of those categories — and 11 of those catches have resulted in first downs. The 6-foot-4, 205-pound Strong has a chance to become a dominate force in the Pac-12 South this year, but his journey to Arizona State wasn’t easy.
When Strong was only 9 years old, he lost his father to Leukemia. Though Strong grew into a a talented football player at West Catholic High School in Philadelphia, he did not have the grades to be accepted into any Division I schools. So Strong ended up at a junior college in Los Angeles, where he put up big enough numbers during his first season of play — 67 receptions for 1,263 yards and 15 touchdowns — to attract the attention of ASU. He still had to pass enough junior college classes to be admitted, though, a fight that he said helped him mature:
The whole process was bittersweet because I had some bad days and I had some good days. It taught me a life lesson as well. It showed me that anything in life worth having is going to take hard work. And there’s probably going to be some bumps and bruises (AZcentral.com).
Strong said the coaches at ASU have become like father figures to him, helping to push him in the right direction. If he continues to progress at the rate he’s shown so far in 2013, Pac-12 defenses could have a budding star to contend with when conference play begins.
Strong and the No. 23 Sun Devils will take on the No. 5 Stanford Cardinal this weekend.