ASU football 2014 season preview: Secondary
Coach Todd Graham loves his secondary. It's the position group he coaches most closely, and it's one with two players he's consistently raved about: redshirt senior safety Damarious Randall and redshirt junior cornerback Lloyd Carrington.
They, especially Randall, will have to carry the load for the Sun Devil secondary. Randall started the final 10 games last season, but Carrington has the next most starts of this season's projected starters, with just two. Joining them will be redshirt junior Solomon Means, opposite Carrington, and, at least for now, redshirt junior Jordan Simone opposite Randall.
Simone has been taking the majority of first-team snaps recently — including during Tuesday's walk-through — but redshirt freshman Marcus Ball is still at the top of the official depth chart. Redshirt freshman James Johnson should also see significant playing time, if not a start or two, throughout the season. Also contrary to the depth chart, Simone was working at boundary safety, where Randall is listed (Randall has been taking reps at field safety). Ball did note that each player in the secondary had been working at both spots to provide extra flexibility to the defense.
Ball was penciled in to start ahead of Randall last season before the injury bug hit him. That injury bug bit again, keeping Ball out of spring practice and most of fall practice. Because of the absences, Graham said Ball has some catching up to do and even if he were medically cleared to play (Graham expects to hear Tuesday afternoon), he wouldn't start against Weber State.
Simone's strong showing at Camp Tontozona surely helped him move up the depth chart. He had three interceptions in the first three days of Camp, and continued the momentum into the last weeks of Tempe practices. He was one of five walk-ons to earn scholarships over the weekend.
Despite all the competition — Means, too, has been battling for his job — the ASU secondary could be the closest unit on the defense. They call themselves "the unit within the unit," and have no aspirations except to be the best in the nation. While that is a lofty goal for a group of players with 12 starts between them, they might be better than one would imagine a group that lost Alden Darby, Osahon Irabor and Robert Nelson would be.
*2014 depth chart:
1. Lloyd Carrington
2. Armand Perry or Kweishi Brown
1. Damarious Randall
2. Chad Adams
3. Deandre Scott
1. Marcus Ball
2. James Johnson or Jordan Simone
1. Solomon Means
2. Kweishi Brown or Chad Adams
*The official depth chart released by ASU doesn't match what it has been running in practice, which was noted above.
Reach the reporter at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanWebeck