ASU football's Jordan Simone taking advantage of absence left by Alden Darby
Filling holes left by players on defense has been one of the biggest questions for ASU football.
During the spring practices for the ASU football team, it seems that one new starter on defense is eager to take on a leadership role left by players like Alden Darby.
Redshirt junior safety Jordan Simone was not able to play last season after transferring from Washington State. Instead, Simone spent the season on the scout team waiting for his chance to play as a Sun Devil.
Simone said he appreciates the expectations set on him by coach Todd Graham. According to him, it shows that his time on the scout team last season was not for nothing, that the coaches did not overlook him.
Even before practice started, Simone's enthusiasm was evident. He ran on to the field jumping and yelling at his teammates to have a good day of practice. That type of excitement is reminiscent of players like Darby, who often had the same emotions at the beginning of practices.
“I really enjoy being out here,” Simone said. “I have fun. And I keep bringing up the scout team last year, but it takes a lot to get through that. You gotta really want to be here.”
Simone also added the bonus of coming from Seattle where it is often gray and rainy to the valley of the sun.
“You got this beautiful weather, how could you not be happy and excited to play football, the greatest game in the world?” Simone said.
Simone also said he was excited to be a part of the "bird gang” tradition being passed down to him and the rest of the secondary.
“The bird gang, it’s been passed down from class to class. And Darby passed it down to us. So shoot man we gotta carry the bird gang on,” Simone said.
During practice, Graham spent a significant amount of time with the defense, the lineup of which is largely unchanged from previous spring practices. Redshirt freshman linebacker Chans Cox spent most of the practice with the second team but got some time with the first team near the end of practice.
During some seven-on-seven drills, redshirt junior wide receiver Jaelen Strong made a catch in double coverage and fell hard to the ground. Strong was able to keep possession of the ball but stayed on the ground in what appeared to be significant pain.
Strong remained on the ground for a about a minute with trainers before being able to jog off the field on his own, though he did seem to favor his left shoulder. The injury is likely nothing more than a stinger, as Strong was able to rejoin the drill after a few plays and finish the practice with no other issues.
Strong himself said after practice that the injury was just a stinger.
“I’m cool; I’m always good,” Strong said.
Strong won't let the minor injury get in the way of the Sun Devils' goals, which are sky high.
“Nothing less than a Rose Bowl,” Strong said. “Or a national championship, nothing less. Anything less than that would be bad, would be considered an unsuccessful season.”
Reach the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @bill_slane