In the clash between maroon (offense) and white (defense) jerseys at the beginning of Friday’s ASU football practice, there was a shade of green hovering in the back of the first-team defense.
Redshirt junior transfer safety Damarious Randall, who has been limited due to a groin injury, got reps at first team field safety for the first time. Randall was a three-star junior college recruit from Mesa Community College who recorded 73 tackles and nine interceptions in 11 games last year. Co-defensive coordinator Chris Ball said Randall has athleticism and that his high football I.Q. will boost the secondary this season.
With freshman safety Marcus Ball out 3-5 weeks with a shoulder injury, Randall is supposed to compete with redshirt freshman safety Laiu Moeakiola and redshirt senior defensive back Robert Nelson Jr. for the open starting field safety job.
Randall is still practicing in a green no-contact jersey and it’s uncertain whether he will recover in time for ASU’s season opener against Sacramento State on Thursday.
“It’s kind of hard to tell because I’m about 90, 95 percent right now,” Randall said. “I really don’t think I want to risk it against Sac State and we got a tough schedule coming ahead of us.”
Randall said his “unfortunate” groin injury came from participating in a skills and development camp over the summer. He jumped for the ball and he said he heard something pop and felt something pull when he came down.
“It’s kind of frustrating to not know when I could return back to action because with a groin injury, it’s just a day-to-day basis,” Randall said.
Despite not joining his teammates on the field, Randall tried hard to stay engaged throughout practice and said he took thousands of mental reps every day while watching the other safeties.
Chris Ball also had Randall yelling calls from the sideline and watching film after practice.
“Mentally, he’s really good,” Ball said. “He seems to know what he’s doing. I got to look at the tape, but at meetings and stuff (and) mentally, he’s doing really well.”
Despite Randall practicing with the first team, coach Todd Graham said after practice that redshirt freshman Laiu Moeakiola would start at field safety if the season started today. According to the official depth chart the team released Tuesday, it listed Randall and Nelson as the two contenders at starting field safety.
“(Laiu) has been the most consistent,” Graham said. “He’s got the best knowledge of what he’s doing.”
ASU eager for season opener
College football season officially started Thursday but the Sun Devils still won’t play for another week.
Graham said even though it’s a bye week, the team has already gone through game preparation three times this week.
With the upgrades ASU has had over the offseason, Graham has high hopes coming into the Sept. 5 opener.
“Me personally, it’s the most excited I’ve been in 27 years of coaching,” Graham said. “I think it’s the best team I’ve ever coached. I’ve coached some great teams and great young men. This is the most talented team I’ve ever coached.”
Still, Graham isn’t getting comfortable and the team has been itching to play, but he said he’s still trying to get his players properly prepared. Graham has been critical about how the team practiced the last couple days for a number of issues, notably about penalties and the team’s overall discipline.
“I challenged them today about if we practiced the way we did last year, you get the same result as last year,” Graham said.
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