Former Arizona State Quarterback Rudy Carpenter Talks Brock Purdy, Spencer Rattler, Sun Devil Expectations and the Recruiting Investigation

Rudy Carpenter played quarterback for Arizona State from 2005-08, then spent four years in the NFL with the Dallas Cowboys and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. recently caught up with him to talk about the Sun Devils and former Arizona high school quarterbacks Brock Purdy and Spencer Rattler.

First off, what have you been up to lately? What’s post-playing life like?

For me, it’s been great. When I was playing, I always had the feeling that I wasn’t going to play for a very long time. So even when I was playing, I was already starting to transition into the coaching world. I had a lot of good opportunities in the coaching world, but I was fortunate enough to make some money and save some money and do some smart things where I didn’t really need to go work 17-hour days. But I still wanted to be involved, so that’s why I started coaching quarterbacks privately. For me, I kind of got into that business before it really took off. Because of that, I have a ton of kids who I work with, both here in Arizona and in California. On top of that, I developed a lot of relationships with coaches, which helps, because ultimately what these kids are trying to do is get recruited. And it kind of came full circle, because a lot of the players I had been working with went to the NFL, which kind of transitioned me into the agent space.

What’s the name of your agency?

Our group is called Endurance Sports Management. Obviously the name is in it, right? We’re trying to work with our guys for the long haul. Not just while they’re playing, but the post-career transition as well. To me, it’s one of the least-talked-about issues in the NFL. Everybody wants to talk about CTE. To me, it’s really about the transition. You see a lot of guys that get done playing in the NFL, they have a lot of money, they’re very young, and they don’t really have a second act or a second career in mind. When you leave young guys with a lot of money and a lot of idle time, I don’t care who you are, it’s a recipe for disaster.

You worked with quarterback Brock Purdy when he was in high school, where he didn’t get much recruiting attention. What do you think of his success at Iowa State?

Brock Purdy is really the poster boy for what goes on in college and the NFL. I remember working with (current Texas Tech quarterback) Tyler Shough, Brock Purdy and a lot of other guys — Devin Brown, a Queen Creek kid who is committed to USC — and I put them all on the field together with college coaches in attendance watching. I specifically said, ‘I’m not going to tell you who is who,’ because I knew if I told those college coaches who is who, the first thing they would do is go on Rivals or Scout, or on Twitter, and then their opinions of the player would become corrupted or biased. So I had all these guys work out, and when they were done, I went over to the college coaches and I asked them, ‘Who is the best?’ And they all pointed to Brock Purdy. All of them. But by the end of the night, Tyler Shough had 20 offers and Brock Purdy had none.

His career at Iowa State seems to be some validation.

He’s a winner. It’s interesting to me to get the text messages from coaches over the last three or four years, where I was begging them — literally begging them — to offer Brock Purdy, and they all said no. Now they all text me, ‘I got to start listening. This guy is a winner. I knew it all along.’

On the flip-side, quarterback Spencer Rattler was the mega-recruit. He’s lived up to it, the Heisman favorite. Could you see that potential early in his high school career?

I actually saw Spencer when he was younger than that. I think he was playing for the Chaparral Firebirds’ youth program. You could see it when he was young. He was very athletic, very smooth, very explosive, and just a really, really, really natural passer. And then if you watch him play basketball, he’s a good hooper. He played on a state championship team with (former NBA player) Nico Mannion. He possesses all of the physical traits that the NFL and Oklahoma look for.

What do you expect from Rattler this season?

Spencer’s going to have a great year and I imagine he’s going to be a very high pick once the draft comes around. It really helps him, too, when you have guys like Kyler Murray, Baker Mayfield and Russell Wilson playing well, because (evaluators) can see it. Spencer Rattler is not a 6-foot-3, 210-pound kid. He’s on the smaller end for a quarterback, but we have evidence of guys like him playing at a very high level in the NFL.

How closely do you still follow Arizona State, and what do you think about the Sun Devils heading into the season?

Obviously I follow it closely. I was just at the ASU luncheon (last week). I think ASU is in a predicament. It’s a very interesting time in their program. Here they are with 12 or 13 players who are legitimate candidates for the Senior Bowl, which is obviously a really big bowl game, an important bowl game if you’re a player. And I think they have 9 or 10 returning starters on the defensive side of the ball, so I know they feel good about that. But, (quarterback) Jayden Daniels, I don’t really think he played up to the expectation last year. I still think the style that (offensive coordinator) Zak Hill wants to play with in comparison to the style that Jayden Daniels wants to play with — I think there are still things they have to work through, and the limited practice time has been hard.

And then on top of that, we haven’t talked about the recruiting violations and losing coaches, which (head coach) Herm Edwards wants to downplay, but I think that’s a really, really big problem and a big deal. Because of that, a Calabasas (California) player who just transferred high schools to Alemany, Larry Gooden, their top recruit — a five-star kid and one of the best wide receivers in the country who is committed to ASU — I’m pretty sure he’s probably going to decommit here at some point and go to another school. This recruiting issue is a part of why that’s going to happen. ASU is in a tough spot. But when you talk about this season, the expectations are all over the board. If they play to their capabilities, they can be one of the best teams in the Pac-12. If the passing game doesn’t get going and they fall victim to all of the outside noise with the recruiting violations, losing coaches, it could be a long season.

Do you think the investigation will adversely affect the current players? Obviously it’s an issue moving forward, but for this year’s team, does the controversy weigh on guys?

That’s a really hard question to answer. On one side of the coin, I kind of agree with some of the other pundits, which is: Who really cares? If you’re a senior on that team, which they have a lot of, who cares? You’re not going to be a part of the punishment. You’re not going to have to deal with it. You will play your season unimpeded, compete to play in the Rose Bowl, and whatever comes down the pike, who cares? Not your problem. If you’re an underclassman, maybe you’re a little worried about it. If you’re Jayden Daniels, maybe you’re a little worried about it. And if you lost your coach in the meeting room because they have gotten swept up in this recruiting violation stuff, that could affect you.

You saw (cornerback) Jack Jones recently tweet at the president of the school, Michel Crow: ‘Give me my coach back.’ For him, I don’t know if it’s really a big deal or if it will affect him. Jack Jones needs to have a big year because he’s a guy that some teams have top-50 grades on (in the draft). He’s got some red flags and some character issues that people might be worried about, but from a physical standpoint? Top-50, top-60 guy to some people. So he has a lot to prove, and when you lose your position coach, a guy you trust who you’re with every day, that can affect you.

What does Jayden Daniels need to refine in order to become a top-tier quarterback?

These questions are always hard to answer because I always sound like a hater, and I’m definitely not that. Jayden Daniels has a lot of physical traits. He’s a gifted natural thrower. He’s got some personality and charisma. He’s smart. He’s a good athlete, a good runner. But when you burst onto the scene like he did — which is something I had to deal with, too — all of a sudden the expectations become crazy. Sometimes it’s hard to live up to that expectation. He’s also been through a lot regarding COVID, and he hasn’t really been able to develop the way you’d like with the continuity of the same offense, the same coaching staff, the same quarterback coach, the same coordinator. 

But, yes, he does have a lot of the physical traits you look for in a top-tier quarterback. To me, the thing he has to do is be consistent and continually get better. Last year, for a million reasons, I think unfortunately in the passing game he took a step backwards. I think this year he needs to take a major step forward. A lot of times you expect that when a quarterback is in the second year of a new system. So that’s what I’m looking for with Jayden. 

What are his NFL prospects?

Ultimately, when it comes to the NFL, people are going to want to see him get a little bigger, a little stronger, a body that they believe can endure a full NFL schedule of 17 games. But based on his experience level and those physical traits — his athleticism, his timing, his accuracy, his arm talent — he does possess enough traits to where, if he puts it all together and becomes consistent, I do think people will see him as a top-tier quarterback when it comes to the NFL draft.

What do you think about Herm Edwards’ long-term future? It felt like ASU started getting better players and this year was supposed to be that next step. Will the ascension get derailed because of this investigation?

I’m somebody who is willing, especially in college football, to teeter and walk on that gray line when it comes to recruiting. Because to me, it’s the only way. It’s the only way to be able to compete with an Alabama, an Ohio State, a Clemson, Oklahoma. In my view, college football and sports in general is all about talent and the players you recruit. Yes, you have to coach them and yes they have to be disciplined, but you have to have the talent.

So for me, my idea was to turn this into an NFL factory. I’m sorry — because people hate to hear this — but none of these kids are going for the academics. They go to school to play football and try to play in the NFL. I’m of the opinion: embrace that. Go recruit those kids. Bring those kids into the program. Hype up the NFL. Allow NFL scouts and general managers to come into your program and be around it. Make it easy for them to get the information and help guys get to the NFL in three years. Do whatever it takes to turn this into an NFL factory.

Guys like Dirk Koetter, Dennis Erickson and Todd Graham were not willing to do that because they were afraid of players leaving early. Whereas, Herm Edwards has embraced that. There is a part of me that loves the aggressiveness. There is a part of me that loves them going out there and trying to recruit the best players. I know this sounds bad and people won’t like it, but my only complaint is that they got caught.

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