ASU football coach Todd Graham is not opposed to challenging the status quo.
Just because a player came to Tempe expecting to play one position does not mean they will stay there, as redshirt junior wide receiver J.J. Holliday recently found out.
After starting his career on the offensive side of the ball, Holliday practiced with the defense — at cornerback — on Monday.
“It feels good (to be) getting some reps,” Holliday said. “Since my reps started dropping on offense, (Graham) thought it would be a good move.”
Holliday played both cornerback and safety in high school so the position is not entirely new, but he knows there will be an adjustment period.
Holliday has only been working with the defense for a couple days, but Graham has been impressed with him so far.
“I think he can run well, and he’s got some potential there from what I’ve seen,” Graham said.
Redshirt senior cornerback Deveron Carr also made the switch from offense to defense, albeit in high school, and knows what Holliday is going through.
“I feel like he has the athletic ability (to play defense),” Carr said. “His alignments aren’t there yet, and that’s basically the hardest transition from playing offense to corner. … There’s a lot to learn at the position, and you’re not going to get it overnight. The harder he works at it, the better he’s going to get.”
While it is a bit unusual to change positions in the middle of the season, Holliday’s move is only the latest in a long line of changes at ASU. Since Graham took over in December, he has moved six players.
In addition to Holliday, redshirt junior Jarrid Bryant, redshirt sophomore Kevin Anderson, redshirt senior James Morrison and redshirt sophomore Deantre Lewis have all switched from offense to defense.
On the other side of the ball, redshirt freshman Mo Latu was moved from the defensive line to center.
“I don’t like moving people,” Graham said. “Most of the movement is just taking (a) look at guys. For the most part we’ve been pretty healthy, but we don’t have a lot of depth at some critical positions.”
Grice continues to adjust
Prior to the season, a lot of hype was made about ASU’s depth at the running back position. In addition to senior Cameron Marshall, freshman D.J. Foster and junior Marion Grice were expected to be significant contributors as well.
Through the team’s first five games, that is exactly what has happened.
“Marion is a very gifted running back,” Graham said. “When there is nothing there, he can make something out of it.”
Grice has accumulated 206 yards on 36 carries and rushed for five touchdowns this season. Graham said junior college players usually take half a season to adjust to Division I football, but he is pleased with Grice’s progress and feels the Texas native is ahead of the curve.
“He has really grown, and I think he is really just scratching the surface of where he is going to be,” Graham said. “He has only just begun. He is a very good receiver, too.”
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