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Sun Devils seek fresh start

Freshman quarterback Samson Szakacsy throws a pass during the first spring training of the year at the practice fields in Tempe.(Matt Pavelek | The State Press)

Some arms and legs were a little rusty, but the chatter on both sides of the ball was in midseason form when the ASU football team kicked off spring practice on Tuesday.

The Sun Devils participated in a spirited session, chalked full of good-

natured ribbing, as the team began its work to wash away memories of last season’s bowl-less 5-7 campaign.

“Last season sucked,” ASU coach Dennis Erickson said. “I don’t want to ever go through that again, and neither does this football team. Any time you have a bad year like that, you want to get out and improve and try to get better.”

As practice began, the eyes of reporters and the handful of fans present quickly focused their attention on a group of players who were beginning their campaigns to become the next Sun Devil quarterback.

How could they not?

After all, ASU hasn’t had a competition at the position since fall 2006, when then-coach Dirk Koetter named former Sun Devil quarterback Sam Keller the starter, only to change course two days later and peg Rudy Carpenter as the guy to start under center.

Things probably won’t be that ugly this time around.

Senior Danny Sullivan, the only job hunter who has taken a Division-I snap, led the first team on the initial day of workouts, and Erickson said the longtime No. 2 is the frontrunner for the position with sophomore Samson Szakacsy slated second in the pecking order.

“I thought, from what I saw, both of them threw it pretty well out there [today],” Erickson said.

It will take more than a few workouts to gauge which quarterback is taking a lead in the race, but Erickson said on Tuesday that he hopes to have the decision made by the end of the spring.

Sullivan said that thinking about the opportunity to lead the team in his final season at ASU gave him the motivation to have a productive offseason.

“It was awesome,” Sullivan said. “I love working hard and just hanging out with the guys and building camaraderie. … If I’m the starter, these are my guys I’m going to [play] with.”

Szakacsy seemed more than happy to discuss his place in the quarterback competition. Surrounded by the largest crowd of media that has questioned him since his arrival in Tempe, the Southern California-

native had little success hiding a wide smile.

“I’m in the mix [and] it feels pretty good,” Szakacsy said. “Competition brings the best out of everyone, and I know it will do that for me and [Sullivan].”

Szakacsy has battled an elbow injury for much of his time at ASU, but the sophomore said he is close to full strength.

“[My arm] feels a lot better than last spring,” he said. “I’m close to 100 percent; I’ll be there very soon.”

Though Sullivan and Szakacsy took the majority of the snaps during team drills, another quarterback was doing his best to turn heads.

Tuesday’s practice provided a first look at freshman Brock Osweiler.

The 6-foot-8-inch Osweiler looks like he has the physical makeup to play the position, and Erickson was impressed with the Montana native’s first official workout.

“I thought for a true freshman, Brock ran around pretty good,” the coach said.

The young quarterback has been a regular in the film room and has already earned himself a nickname.

“I call him ‘Brock-n-roll,’” Szakacsy said. “He’s real smart and he’s picking [up the offense] real good.”

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