After attending its spring game, TE Kaden Helms bullish on ASU
Kaden Helms sat in Sun Devil Stadium on Sunday, surrounded by fellow 2022 recruits planning their future and gauging how they might fit into the maroon and gold.
Alongside four-star safety Larry Turner-Gooden – already an ASU commit – four-star quarterback prospect AJ Duffy, four-star safety prospect Xavier Nwankpa and others, Helms watched ASU’s spring game with a mile-wide grin.
The tight end prospect out of Nebraska has gotten the run-around from coaches all over the country how they’re going to use their tight ends extensively in the future. On Sunday, the Sun Devils showed the 6-foot-6, 220-pound monster exactly how they’d utilize him if he showed up in Tempe.
In offensive coordinator, Zak Hill’s offense, ASU’s tight ends had a spectacular spring game highlighted by a pair of touchdowns from freshman Jalin Conyers.
“It definitely means a lot,” Helms admitted. “I know a lot of schools that say they’re going to use the tight ends but, at the end of the day, every school is going to try and recruit you or sell you to the school, so it’s not always true. It was fun to see (the Sun Devils) put their words to actions.”
After the spring game, Helms spoke on the phone with ASU tight ends coach Adam Breneman, emphasizing to the young coach how much he enjoyed their position group shining.
According to Helms, Breneman told him that he’s the top tight end target the Sun Devils are recruiting. He even shared a story with the young recruit that when Breneman – then a graduate assistant – was being looked at for the tight ends job a few months ago; the ASU coaching staff pulled him into an office and asked to see the no. 1 tight end he was recruiting. Breneman pulled up tape of Helms. After Breneman got the full-time gig, to no one's surprise Helms was the first offer he extended.
Through Breneman’s promotion, the relationship between him and Helms has only grown closer.
“Breneman does a good job keeping in contact with me every day, but I think he does a better job of not just making it like small talk,” Helms said. “He actually has genuine conversations with me. He sends me the spring installs and stuff like that, kind of proving how they’re going to use tight ends this year. He’s done a really good job of switching things up and not keeping things boring.
“He even makes little power points for me. Like what my goals are (going to be) if I commit there.”
And those goals are lofty. Freshman All-American in year one. All-American as a sophomore. Mackay Award winner in the third year, and suiting up in the NFL a year later.
That trajectory is staggering, going beyond even the towering achievements of some of the best tight ends in ASU history like Todd Heap and Zach Miller. Yet, in finding a comparison for his skillset, Helms opts for a more contemporary choice.
“I’m definitely a more-athletic, like Kyle Pitts-type tight end,” Helms said, referencing the 6-foot-6 Florida tight end expected to be a first-round draft pick. “I do a really good job stretching the field and creating mismatches for linebackers – because they’re not as fast – or even corners because they’re not that big. I think I’m a versatile player, and coach Breneman thinks (the same thing). That’s why I’m so high on his recruiting chart.”
It’s not just Breneman’s recruiting chart, though. Helms has 23 total offers and, on Monday, cut it down to a top 10 that includes: ASU, Auburn, Florida State, Iowa, Iowa State, Miami, LSU, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Tennessee.
When asked which few schools were recruiting him the hardest, Helms pointed to Oklahoma, Auburn, Miami, Tennessee and the Sun Devils.
Helms said he’s planning to commit before his senior season in hopes that he’ll be able to take a few official visits over the summer. Until then, he’ll weigh his options and decide which school meets his wish list.
“Definitely a school that’s going to use a tight end and a school that’s going to be able to get me to the next level. A school that I’m going to get along with the coaches well and feel like I can play in the offense right away,” Helms said. “Obviously playing early is a big time to me – which is why I feel like Arizona State is so appealing because they really need a guy to come in their freshman year and make a big impact.”
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