Every so often, a college football player with the audacity to play on both the offense and defense emerges and captures the national spotlight, and recently, they all seem to come from the Pac-12.
In 2010, Stanford fullback and linebacker Owen Marecic scored a touchdown on offense and defense within the span of 13 seconds against Notre Dame. Last season, then-freshman UCLA running back and linebacker Myles Jack was one of the biggest stories in college football.
Sun Devil redshirt senior tight end/Devilbacker De’Marieya Nelson will be a two-way player for the second year in a row, and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I’m one that the coaches can depend on for putting me in that situation,” Nelson said. “I’m a big team player. Whatever the team needs, whatever my role may be, I’ll do that to the best of my potential.”
The consummate five-tool player last season, Nelson caught seven balls for 107 yards and two touchdowns as a tight end, rushed for 53 yards and two touchdowns, recorded 16 tackles and two forced fumbles on defense and was a standout on special teams.
With the season opener against Weber State looming on Thursday, Nelson said he just can’t wait to play.
“I can’t wait to take the field with my team,” Nelson said. “It’s been a long offseason. We’ve worked hard; we’ve come closer as a team, as a brotherhood. I’m just looking forward to going out there and beasting out.”
The obvious question presents itself, will Nelson get more excited making a big defensive play or an explosive offensive play on Thursday? His answer is simple.
“I’m gonna get pumped both ways,” Nelson said. “I love getting pumped with my defensive teammates, and I love getting pumped with my offensive guys as well.”
That’s what Nelson loves, giving effort and getting pumped. He says the numbers he puts up on Thursday are far from his main focus.
“I don’t really worry about the stats,” Nelson said. “(Just) do what I can for the team and give 200 percent effort and play to the best of my ability.”
Following Tuesday’s practice in Sun Devil Stadium, which is ASU’s last practice before its season opener, Nelson reflected on his summer.
“I enjoyed it,” Nelson said. “I got bigger, faster and stronger.”
Add head coach Todd Graham to the list of the people who also enjoyed their offseason.
“I like this team; I like these guys a lot,” Graham said, “I think we’re a lot closer to being philosophically where I want them to be.”
That philosophy? Play fast and control the tempo.
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