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Steven Threet finding a new direction

Hidden behind the dark sunglasses he uses to shield his light-sensitive eyes, lies a 22-year-old retired quarterback. At any given ASU practice, Steven Threet can be seen standing behind the only slightly younger men that now play his position.

Concussions are supposed to make things blurry. But in the case of Threet, they forced him to think clearer. The former starting ASU quarterback retired from football last season after suffering four concussions in a five-year span.

The game he played since he was a kid was taken away from him because of something out of his control. Many hardheaded athletes, thinking they were invisible, would’ve continued playing despite the warning signs. Threet, on the other hand, saw smoke and realized fire wasn’t far behind.

The signal-caller, who made three stops in his collegiate career (Georgia Tech, Michigan and ASU) played the very next week after his first and third concussions. When he suffered his fourth against UCLA Nov. 26 of last year, Threet spent the remainder of the game head down on the sidelines with a wet towel over his throbbing skull.

In the days, weeks and months following the hit, Threet continued to experience concussion-like symptoms, mainly consisting of sustained headaches and sleep deprivation. Faced with the decision to risk further, more long-term injury, he reluctantly gave up football.

In the year since the incident, Threet has made significant strides in all aspects of his new life.



Officially, Threet is considered a graduate assistant for the Sun Devils. But he serves a far more valuable role.

Offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone is in his second year in Tempe, and the high-octane offense he employs takes time to learn. Threet, playing in 11 of 12 games in 2010, had by far the most familiarity in the system coming into this season.

“He has a lot of game experience and that’s something that really can’t be traded for,” ASU junior starting quarterback Brock Osweiler said. “I’m the first to have my ears wide open when he has anything to say. He’s a huge help during the game to remind you about the little things. He’ll tell you that everything is fine and brush things off. I’m very appreciative of it and it’s been a joy to work with him.”

On Saturdays, Threet relays hand-signals from the sidelines into the huddle and is a part of every in-game conference with the other quarterbacks.

“It’s definitely a big transition from what I’m used to doing,” he said. “There’s a lot of preparation. It’s been going good and I’m glad I can help in any capacity that I can, but it feels a lot different.”

The relationship between Osweiler and Threet is different than the one between the younger quarterbacks and Threet. Osweiler spent the majority of 2010 backing up Threet and was always one play away from entering the game. For the co-backup freshman signal-callers, Taylor Kelly and Mike Bercovici, this is the closest they’ve been to the field.

“Emotionally, he’s one of the best coaches,” Bercovici said. “He’s the best at taking you off to the side and to tell you how to improve things.

“Having him on the sidelines giving the signals and me being right next to him has helped me so much,” he said. “He’s ran this offense. He knows all the little tweaks. I get to pick his brain and he’s been a really good friend in the process. It’s been a great experience.”

Threet’s job isn’t just on game days though. He’s there all week working behind the scenes.

“In the film room he gives us certain reads in certain plays against the coverages he played against last year,” Kelly said. “He might tell me to keep my eye on the safety on a certain route to see if linebacker is trying to get underneath on you. Just little tips and ques.”



Less than a month ago, Threet traveled to Washington D.C. to speak in front of Congress about the dangers of concussions in student-athletes and how uninformed they are to the risks of playing with them.

“It was awesome, I had a great time,” he said. “It’s inspiring in some ways.”

Meanwhile back in the desert, his former coach was singing praises for representing the university in such a distinguished fashion.

“Steven is a very well spoken guy that’s been through it all and he does us proud,” coach Dennis Erickson said. “He’s done a tremendous job.”

The unique experience has Threet thinking of a possible new career path.

“It’s something I feel like I possibility could want to get into down the road,” he said. “I met a lot of very interesting people, but we’ll see how things finish up for me with school and go from there.”



For eight months after his fourth concussions, Threet couldn’t run through his normal exercise routine. Now, he’s getting back to his old self more and more.

“I’m a lot better,” he said. “I’ve been able to pick up my workout regiment which is nice. I’m still out of shape from eight months of not being able to do anything but I’m slowly but surely feeling a little bit better all the time.”

As the resident concussion expert on ASU, Threet has had former teammates this year come to him with questions after suffering the same injury.

“We’ve talked a little bit, they ask me some things if they are wondering about how they are feeling,” he said. “I think they like having someone around who understands it. They’ve done a great job and we have a great medical staff that really takes care of the guys well.”

But even after a full-year away from the game, the urge to play hasn’t left the former quarterback, and probably won’t for a while.

“It’s difficult to watch,” he said. “It’s definitely difficult to be on the sidelines. I wish I could still be out there sometimes, but I’m happy.”


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