Freshmen show promise in Camp Tontozona scrimmage

Keep an eye on these freshmen on the ASU Football team

In a defensively-tilted scrimmage at Camp Tontozona on Saturday, there were a handful of freshmen who stole the show.

Okay, maybe stealing the show is a bit of an exaggeration, but some of these youngsters have stood out.

Most of these players likely won't start on day one, and may never officially start during the entire season, but expect to see some of them getting game action for the Sun Devils this fall.

Freshman defensive tackle Shannon Forman began the scrimmage with the first team at nose tackle.

"Shannon Forman is going to play, get ready," ASU defensive coordinator Phil Bennett said. "I mean he's quick, (he's) 300 pounds, he's a football player."

The first team defense did not allow the offense much breathing room all day, in part due to Forman, who said he had one sack and five tackles.

One thing that could set Forman apart is his agility. He played running back in high school, as well as basketball, and he's working to shed weight so he'll have more stamina against speedy Pac-12 offenses.

"Right now I'm at about 299 (pounds), but they want me to lose about five pounds each week so I can reach my goal of 290," Forman said.

Forman wasn't the only freshman to play with the first team, as running back Eno Benjamin took advantage of his opportunities.

Benjamin burst out of the gate with a long run against the first team defense and settled into the game, finishing with nine carries for 46 yards and a touchdown, according to the Sun Devils. His fellow defenders took notice.

"He's a heck of a player," Forman said. "He gets everyone on the team better by running and changing speeds on us."

Freshman running back Trelon Smith accompanied Benjamin in the backfield, scored a touchdown of his own and noted how the scrimmage helped him understand his path as a runner.

"Just being patient, making sure you make your reads, and when you get the chance: hit it," Smith said.

Both freshman runners are from Texas; Benjamin from Wylie, a Dallas suburb, and Smith from Houston. Smith said both were "the guy" in their respective cities, but said they've come together to sharpen each other's craft.

"Competition. We compete everyday. Man, Eno, that's my boy," Smith said.

Once the senior duo of Kalen Ballage and Demario Richard go on their separate ways, these two Texans could be the next twosome in the Sun Devil backfield.

On the defensive side, freshman defensive back Alex Perry had a strong showing with a key pass deflection early on and a dropped interception. 

"I've got to finish the plays, dropped interception, I have no excuse for that," Perry said.

Obviously he would have loved to secure the ball, but at least it shows he knew where he needed to be, a good start for any freshman defender.

Finally, kicker Brandon Ruiz did not appear like a standard college kicker, nailing field goals from 22, 44, and 49 yards in the scrimmage. 

Granted, Camp Tontozona is over a mile high in elevation so the ball travels further, but his accurate command of the ball should translate to Tempe. 

So far, Ruiz has shown why he was one of the highest rated kickers in the 2017 high school class.

Reach the reporter at or follow @Harris_Mark7 on Twitter.

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