ASU football awards scholarships to five walk-ons, releases updated depth chart

Senior defensive back Jordan Simone leaps for a catch

Senior defensive back Jordan Simone leaps for a catch in warmups during
the Sun Devils’ Fan Fest on April 13. ASU coach Todd Graham was impressed
with the defense during the spring game. (Photo by Dominic Valente.)

Redshirt junior safety Jordan Simone played alongside five-star recruits in high school, walked on at Washington State and transferred to ASU as a walk-on.

Redshirt senior offensive lineman Chip Sarafin graduated with a degree in biochemical engineering and came out as the first active openly gay college football player.

Redshirt sophomore receiver Fred Gammage had the financial support of his parents for two years, then it was up to him.

When redshirt junior linebacker Jason Franklin told his dad, he began crying in the middle of a San Antonio, Texas, Walmart. His mom had to run outside of the mall she was in, trying to keep it together.

Redshirt freshman linebacker Brandon Matthews hasn’t told his parents yet. He lives at home and plans to surprise them.

The five Sun Devil walk-ons were in coach Todd Graham’s office, thinking a new jersey was being unveiled to them because of the cameras surrounding them. When Graham came in with five folders and starting talking about character and hard work, they knew something was up.

Then, Graham says, “Jordan Simone, you’re getting a scholarship today.”

Simone broke down in front of his coach and teammates, who knew what was coming next.

“Me and Brandon were sitting next to each other in that meeting room, looking at each other (after Graham told Simone and Gammage),” Franklin said. “Then (Graham) said, ‘We have three more,’ and Brandon and I were two of those three. It was insane, the way those guys reacted.”

For many of the five, they or their parents were on the hook for the thousands of dollars in tuition. Everyone mentioned how grateful they are to be able to provide the financial relief for their parents.

Before he enrolled at ASU, Gammage was all set to play Division II football. His dad convinced him otherwise, offering to pay for his first two years.

“My dad’s always been there. He’s the person that got me here,” Gammage said. “He was like, ‘You want to play in front of 70,000 or a thousand, two-thousand people?’

“He said, ‘I’ll figure out a way to pay for two years, then if it doesn’t work out there, I’ll let you make the decision of what you want to do.’”

Even after his dad offered, Gammage had doubts about putting that financial burden on his parents — his dad works in parks and recreation, while his mom is a teacher.

Of course, the man who started it all for Gammage couldn’t be reached for him to deliver the good news. Gammage was able to call his mom, who almost started crying, but couldn’t get through to his dad. Gammage figured he had heard about it on Twitter, anyway.

Franklin said walking on to a major football program is one of the hardest things a college student can do, and Gammage agrees with him “100 percent.”

Updated depth chart

Video by Evan Webeck | Sports Reporter

ASU released an updated depth chart for the first time since fall camp began. There isn’t much that is noteworthy, though redshirt sophomore Edmond Boateng is listed as the No. 1 Devilbacker, alongside redshirt senior De’Marieya Nelson, on just his first day practicing at the position.

Here’s the complete two-deep depth chart from ASU:

Offense

Quarterback: Taylor Kelly, Mike Bercovici

Tailback: D.J. Foster, Demario Richard

Running back: Deantre Lewis, Kalen Ballage

WR 1: Jaelen Strong, Ellis Jefferson

WR 2: Gary Chambers, Fred Gammage

WR 3: Cameron Smith, Ronald Lewis

Tight end: De’Marieya Nelson OR Kody Kohl, Grant Martinez

Left tackle: Jamil Douglas, Evan Goodman

Left guard: Christian Westerman, Sam Jones

Center: Nick Kelly, Stephon McCray

Right guard: Vi Teofilo, Stephon McCray

Right tackle: Tyler Sulka, William McGehee

Defense

Nose tackle: Demetrious Cherry OR Jaxon Hood, Mo Latu OR Connor Humphreys

Tiger: Jaxon Hood OR Tashon Smallwood, Corey Smith OR Renell Wren

End: Marcus Hardison, Viliami Latu

Devil: De’Marieya Nelson OR Edmond Boateng

Spur: Viliami Moeakiola, Marcus Washington

Sam: Salamo Fiso, Alani Latu

Will: DJ Calhoun, Christian Sam

Boundary corner: Lloyd Carrington, Armond Perry

Boundary safety: Damarious Randall, Chad Adams

Field safety: Marcus Ball, James Johnson

Field corner: Solomon Means, Kweishi Brown

Team captains

Graham named his team captains on the second day of fall camp, but released the name today. Taylor Kelly, Jamil Douglas, De’Marieya Nelson and Damarious Randall will be ASU’s four captains this season.

Kelly and Douglas are the “clearly” the leaders of the team, Graham said, and they had influence as to who the other two captains would be. Although there are only four captains, Graham stressed that doesn’t mean that they are the only four leaders. He also mentioned Mike Bercovici, Jaelen Strong and D.J. Foster.

“The best players are leaders,” Graham said. “No doubt about that.”

 

Reach the reporter at ewebeck@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @EvanWebeck