The Arizona State football program has the cloud of an NCAA investigation hovering over it as it prepares to begin the 2021 college football season.

That won’t keep the Sun Devils from shining this season, according to some early Top 25 rankings for 2021.

Herm Edwards’ ASU team, which started practice on Wednesday, shows up in several power rankings and polls for the upcoming season.

ESPN: ASU ranked No. 25 in preseason power rankings

Kyle Bonagura writes: “The Sun Devils return 21 starters from a team that was supposed to be good last year but really just never got out of first gear thanks, at least in part, to a COVID-19 outbreak. At Pac-12 media day, coach Herm Edwards and quarterback Jayden Daniels maintained that the ongoing NCAA investigation into conduct by the coaching staff relating to violations of COVID-19 protocols and recruiting rules won’t affect the team on the field. Heading into his junior year, Daniels has a chance to be special and one of the faces of the conference.”

More: Pac-20 Conference? How an expanded Pac-12 Conference could look after merger with Big 12

CBS Sports: Arizona State opens No. 24 in college football 130 rankings

The site ranks all 130 college football teams for 2021 and it has the Sun Devils ahead of No. 25 Louisiana and behind No. 23 Ole Miss on its list.

College Football News: Sun Devils predicted to be No. 21 in AP preseason poll

Pete Fiutak writes: “Is this really when it all comes together? Every coach should be allowed a few years to get his guys and his systems into place, and now it’s Year Four under Herm Edwards. He’s been solid so far, and now has just about everything he needs to come up with something sensational. Helped by the super-senior year, he’s getting just about everyone back, he’s got more than enough depth to come up with a few good position battles, and he’s got the starting quarterback with two years of experience and the upside to become among the nation’s best. If Jayden Daniels really is just that good, look out. The overall talent level isn’t among the elite of the CFO title-contender elite, but it’s strong enough to demand a possible run to the Pac-12 Championship.”

More: 5 storylines to follow as Arizona State football begins preparations for 2021 season

College Football News: Herm Edwards’ team projected to be ranked No. 20 In preseason coaches poll

Pete Fiutak writes: “There’s no Oregon on the regular season slate and USC comes to Tempe. Start with that, and that’s as much of a break as any Pac-12 South team can get. So what’s missing outside of the prove it factor? The program has showed under Edwards that it can hang and beat the occasional great team – like effectively keeping Oregon out of the 2019 College Football Playoff with the win – but it couldn’t get by UCLA or Oregon State just before beating the Ducks two years ago. It was able to come really, really close to beating USC and UCLA last year, but didn’t. It’s been able to do a whole lot of good things, and yet five of the 13 losses under Edwards came against teams that finished with a losing record. So yeah, ASU should be able to pull off a win at Washington here, or a victory over Utah on the road there, but it can’t do that and lose to Colorado or Washington State or at Oregon State. This is the best team under Edwards so far by a mile. Now it has to get the job done.”

NCAA.com: ASU ranked No. 23 in preseason Top 25

It writes: “The Sun Devils played only four games, but they still piled up more than 1,000 rushing yards to go with QB Jayden Daniels’ 701 passing yards. Much of the defensive talent is back as well, including top tackler Evan Fields.”

More: Is Herm Edwards on college football hot seat amid Arizona State football investigation?

Bleacher Report: Arizona State No. 23 in preseason Top 25 ranking

David Kenyon writes: “Will the cloud of alleged recruiting violations sting Arizona State in the fall? Probably not, but it’s possible. Still, the Sun Devils have a young, talent-filled offense, led by third-year quarterback Jayden Daniels, hoping to complement a defense that should be among the Pac-12’s best units.”

Athlon Sports: Sun Devils come in at No. 15 in preseason ranking

Steven Lassan writes: “All of the pieces are in place for Herm Edwards’ team to win the Pac-12 in 2021. The Sun Devils return nearly everyone off last year’s squad, including quarterback Jayden Daniels and running backs Rachaad White and Chip Trayanum. A crossover game at Washington is tough, and Arizona State travels to Utah, but USC visits Tempe on Nov. 6.”

More: Report: ASU football assistant Adam Breneman put on administrative leave amid investigation

Reach Jeremy Cluff at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @Jeremy_Cluff.

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