Adam Tello isn’t married. But the relationship between him and his temperamental back resembles one of an old married couple.
On Sept 27, the redshirt senior offensive tackle announced he was retiring from football due to lingering back pain resulting from two prior surgeries.
For all he knew, his time in a Sun Devil uniform was over.
But when starting offensive linemen Garth Gerhart and Evan Finkenburg went down with injuries against Oregon State Oct. 1, Tello stepped up to the plate.
“I went and asked the coaches if they needed me,” he said. “I knew the position they were in. We don’t have many experienced guys behind our starters. I want to be here for my team and I want to be a part of the team.”
After practicing with ASU for the following two weeks, Tello finally got his chance last weekend at Oregon. Redshirt junior tackle Andrew Sampson needed medical treatment for a few plays during the game and Tello was the next person in line.
“That’s my position, whenever a guard goes down, I’m going to be the guy that goes in,” he said. “That’s what I have to do for this team.”
The self-sacrificing act had coach Dennis Erickson gushing over what it meant to him and the rest of the Sun Devils.
“I can’t say enough about Adam,” he said. “I’ve made that very clear to our players, too. He walked in my office and said I need to help you. We weren’t trying to get him involved. It says a lot about him as a person and how much he cares.”
As for the future, Tello isn’t sure when or if his back will cause him to shut it down again. But he’s not going anywhere until his spouse forces him too.
“Until Old Betsy, that’s what I call my back, decides to give out on me, this will be my position,” he said. “When I get going it’s okay, but getting up in the morning is a struggle. It’s like I’m an old man already.”
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Of the nine ASU players to visit the hospital Tuesday, freshman quarterback Mike Bercovici was the youngest. He’d done volunteer work before, but never in hospital.
“It’s really emotional,” he said. “It’s hard, but I’m really glad I did. To put a smile on their faces, it really meant a lot to me.”
The 18-year-old wants to make full use of the new platform he has as a student-athlete at a major university.
“To learn how important giving back is as a freshman, it’s great,” he said. “I’m going to go back there as often as I can. I know how much it means to those kids in those tough times. It might just brighten their day.”
Bercovici has plans in the near future to do even more work in the community.
“Some of us are going to go to local elementary schools and read to some kids,” he said. “It’s going to be a really big component for what I’m going to be while I’m here.”
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