Younger football players maximize on extra practices

Redshirt junior defensive tackle Will Sutton pulls down NAU senior quarterback Cary Grossart during the Sun Devils’ 63-6 win over the Lumberjacks on Aug. 30.
(Photo by Aaron Lavinsky)

Gold is the brightest color that the Sun Devils wear, but the players that wear it in practice everyday don’t get noticed much.

They have been lately.

Practices have been different lately for the ASU football team. Veteran and starting players are allowed to leave early. Backups and young players are required to stick around and practice more, which gives them a chance to get the coaches’ attention.

As the starters leave the field, there is almost a changing of the guard.

The starters trot off the field, some taking off their white and maroon jerseys, and head to the bus.

The backups and scout team players ditch the gold for maroon and white uniforms to try and take advantage of the opportunity.

Redshirt freshman center Mo Latu is not on the scout team. He still is the backup to redshirt junior Kody Koebensky, which doesn’t provide Latu with many reps.

When Koebensky leaves the practice early, Latu become the man in charge of the offensive line.

“It’s a great opportunity for all the secondary, third string (and) scout guys,” Latu said. “Some of us don’t get the chance to play in the game, so we treat this second part of the practice as a game for us to get better technique wise and just have fun.”

As the remaining players come out for their “second” practice, they start off working with their individual coaches.

Then, they move to the sidelines and the offense and defense scrimmages, thus creating a game-like atmosphere. Coach Todd Graham and his assistants yell from the sidelines.

There is also another “coach” on the defense’s sideline trying to make his presence known.

Junior safety Alden Darby has consistently stayed after the veterans’ practice is over. He stands with his helmet off cheering on the defense and coaching up the younger players.

“I don’t got nowhere to be,” Darby said. “I’m not in a rush to go anywhere. I love football and I love to show my support.

“These young guys, they show their support day in and day out for all of us older guys when we play on Saturday and when we practice. So why not show them some support when they get a shot?”

Darby, of course, is going to focus on the secondary and the younger players competing at that position.

With the graduation of senior safety Keelan Johnson and senior corner Deveron Carr, there will two major holes that must filled next season.

Darby said players like freshman safety Laiu Moeakiola, junior safety Shane McCullen and redshirt freshman Ezekiel Bishop could possibly fill that void.

If a player performs well in these extra practice sessions, then it will be the first step in competing for the open jobs next season.

 

CBS honors Sutton

The awards keep on coming for redshirt junior defensive tackle Will Sutton.

After being named the Pat Tillman Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year on Nov. 26 and getting selected onto the American Football Coaches Association FBS All-America Team, CBSSports.com voted him to their All-America team Monday.

 

Reach the reporter at ehubbard@asu.edu