The player carousel at first-team field safety continued for ASU football after freshman Marcus Ball suffered a right shoulder injury that will sideline him for approximately 3-5 weeks.
But instead of moving up one of the safeties, the coaches gave redshirt senior defensive back Robert Nelson a look into Ball’s spot.
Nelson started fall camp taking reps at first-team field cornerback but the coaches bumped him down to the second team for the past week after redshirt sophomore defensive back Lloyd Carrington emerged as a standout. Despite being praised for having great practices, Nelson couldn’t find a way to get back to starting with the first-team until Ball’s injury.
Coach Todd Graham cited Nelson’s experience as a major factor for moving him up over redshirt freshman Laiu Moeakiola and freshman James Johnson. Graham said he likes having Nelson on the field with Carrington, senior safety Alden Darby and redshirt senior defensive back Osahon Irabor, calling those four his best players in the secondary.
“Robert, if not today, I thought he had one of the better scrimmages and would have been the starting field corner,” Graham said. “We’re just taking a look at him. … We got to make sure we have the best guys on the field and I like getting the most speed.”
Nelson said he never played safety in high school but he believes it will be an easy transition for him because of the way he already plays.
“I felt very comfortable playing safety,” Nelson said. “I like to play off-man a lot and you see everything. … Whatever I got to do, I’m willing to do it.”
Secondary coach Chris Ball has yet to determine whether Nelson will remain at field safety or go back to playing field corner. Ball echoed Graham’s desire of having the four best defensive backs on the field at all times.
“We just want someone to step up and take that field safety spot,” Ball said.
Redshirt junior defensive back Damarious Randall is also expected to compete for time with Moeakiola and Johnson once he’s 100 percent healthy from his groin injury, which Graham estimates will be in 10 days.
Foster OK after ankle scare at Camp Tontozona
Sophomore running back D.J. Foster appeared in Monday’s practice without a green no-contact jersey after suffering an apparent ankle injury at Saturday’s Camp Tontozona scrimmage.
Foster didn’t take many reps so he spent most of practice being a vocal leader.
“(The ankle) feels good,” Foster said. “No swelling or anything. It’s just a little sore so I’m just trying to rehab it and get treatment on it and get back to a 100 percent.”
Like the 5,000 people in attendance at the scrimmage, Foster was concerned about the injury when it first happened. He never had to deal with a leg injury before.
“I was scared,” Foster said. “I felt the pain, but luckily it didn’t bend too far enough to break or tear so I’m OK. It’s a blessing and I’m happy that nothing major happened.”
Foster is hopeful it will take a few days before he starts taking full reps again with Tuesday being the soonest.
- Graham said the defense had a much better practice after playing poorly at Saturday’s Camp Tontozona scrimmage.
- Senior linebacker Anthony Jones was the latest player to wear the green no-contact jersey for precautionary reasons. Redshirt freshman Carlos Mendoza and senior Chris Young filled in for Jones at first-team Spur linebacker. Young practiced at first-team Will linebacker for most of fall camp.
- Graham continued to praise freshman kicker Zane Gonzalez and freshman punter Matt Haack for outstanding practices. Graham indicated Haack is in the lead for taking the starting punter job over junior Dom Vizzare.
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