ASU football coach Dennis Erickson has always been widely regarded as a great recruiter.
The talent of his freshman class shows that 20 years into Erickson’s collegiate career, the coach still has the touch.
The same man who brought Warren Sapp to Miami in 1991 and Chad Johnson to Oregon State in 2000 is now presiding over a handful of first-year Sun Devils ready to make an impact this season.
Erickson said Monday he plans to use eight or nine true freshmen in games.
Running back Ryan Bass, chief among them, will play Saturday against NAU.
Wide receiver Gerell Robinson has already displayed the athleticism that made him one of Arizona’s top recruits out of Hamilton High School in Chandler.
Senior quarterback Rudy Carpenter said Robinson’s seamless adjustment to the college ranks is why he is climbing the depth chart.
“I had a chance to work with Gerell throughout the whole summer and thought he was advanced [for his experience],” Carpenter said.
A majority of the true freshmen who will see action, though, will do so on the defensive side of the ball.
Shelly Lyons and Brandon Magee, who were Bass’ teammates at Centennial High School in Corona, Calif., performed well during fall camp and will add to a talented linebacker group.
Defensive lineman Lawrence Guy, one of the most talented players to come out of the state of Nevada last season, is slated to add to the team’s pass rush.
“We felt he had the physical ability to play, and he’s picked it up pretty well,” Erickson said.
Defensive backs Josh Jordan and Clint Floyd and offensive lineman Zach Schlink should also see the field in the early going.
Weber to defend award for nation’s top kicker
To the surprise of no one around the program, sophomore kicker Thomas Weber was named to the watch list for the Lou Groza Award, given to the nation’s best kicker.
Weber became the first freshman to ever win the award last season after making 24 of his 25 field goal attempts.
Erickson said he expects Weber to repeat his 2007 campaign, during which the former walk-on was named an All-American.
“Thomas is going to be a huge weapon for us.” Erickson said. “No question about it.
“We have a great deal of confidence in him. He’ll win some games for us.”
Junior defensive end Dexter Davis was named to the watch list for the Rotary Lombardi Award on Monday, an accolade given to the nation’s best lineman or linebacker.
McGaha ready for opener
Erickson said Monday that he expects junior wide receiver Chris McGaha (toe)to play in Saturday’s game.
Despite not being fully back to health, McGaha practiced for the first time in nearly two weeks on Sunday.
“Unless there’s a drastic change in his condition, I would expect him to start [Saturday],” Erickson said.
Other players remain banged up: Junior running back Shaun DeWitty (hamstring) is questionable for Saturday’s game while redshirt freshman defensive end James Brooks is probable. Decisions on junior wide receiver Brandon Smith (hamstring) and redshirt freshman center Garth Gerhart (ankle) will be made later in the week.
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