Video by Fabian Aradaya | Sports Reporter
Senior De’Marieya Nelson, position: football player.
The 2013 college football season saw the reemergence of the two-way star, with UCLA running back/linebacker Myles Jack jumping onto the college football scene. This season, ASU may have a multi-position star of its own, with De’Marieya Nelson playing a role on offense, defense and special teams.
“I’ve never done what we’re fixing to do with De’Marieya Nelson,” head coach Todd Graham said. “Never. And I like that.”
At Saturday’s ASU football media day, Graham outlined that Nelson, who played defensive end and tight end last season, will average around 40 snaps per game on defense, 25 snaps on offense, and 10-15 snaps on special teams during the 2014 season.
Even with the added snaps, Nelson, a 6-foot-3 senior, embraces the challenge of playing multiple positions.
“I feel like it’s a mindset,” he said. “We have great strength coaches that are preparing us for this long season. We’ve been grinding all offseason so I think that I’m ready for it.”
Graham raved about Nelson defensively, saying he could be one of the best in the three-technique in the Pac-12 and perhaps the country, and that he should thrive at the Devilbacker position. Nelson himself said that he loves the freedom playing defense gives him.
“I love the defensive side of the ball,” he said. “I’m able to play I feel a lot more free because you’re not thinking as much as you would on offense. I like the physical part better.”
On the offensive end, Nelson is expected to take the majority of his snaps at the tight end position, although he did see some time at running back as well. Deputy head coach and offensive coordinator Mike Norvell said he loves having the versatility in being able to move Nelson around.
“We always have to be creative in how we meet with (De’Marieya Nelson), and time management for what he’s able to do in a practice standard,” he said. “Playing in this offense, we throw a lot at guys, and it’s one thing just to know what you’re doing but to have the technique and the fundamentals, day in and day out, to go out and execute on Saturdays is a big deal.”
The man throwing the ball to Nelson, third-year starter and 2013 All-Pac-12 third team quarterback Taylor Kelly, has no qualms about Nelson’s ability to adjust on both ends.
“He’s been in the system for two years now. He really has a good grasp of the offense and what we’re trying to do with the different plays and formations that we have,” he said.
Nelson will also be featured on special teams as part of kickoff coverage and returns, as well as on punt coverage, which is something that excites Norvell.
“De’Marieya (Nelson) was probably our best special teams player last year, but you also have to limit. You can ask him to play so many plays on offense, so many plays on defense that you have to have that pitch count that you’re tracking through a game,” he said. “You don’t want to wear him down to the point where he isn’t successful.
Nelson caught seven passes for 107 yards and two touchdowns during the 2013 regular season.
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