ASU football wide receiver Gary Chambers relishes role as team leader

The redshirt senior will look to make the most of his final season in Tempe

There is one play that sticks out from ASU football's 2014 season: the "Jael Mary" against USC. It has created two enduring Sun Devil legacies and will not soon be forgotten.

However, the legendary moment was one of several crucial plays in the back-and-forth game.

Would ASU have come back to win if then-sophomore wide receiver Cameron Smith hadn't broken out for a touchdown to cut it to a one-score game? Probably not.

If head coach Todd Graham hadn't used all three of his timeouts, would he have called for the Hail Mary? 

If then-sophomore kicker Zane Gonzalez had made the trip for the game, it's very likely that ASU, down 34-32, would have gone for the game-winning field goal instead.

One of those forgotten plays came directly before then-redshirt junior quarterback Mike Bercovici's pass to Jaelen Strong — a bullet across the middle to then-redshirt junior wide receiver Gary Chambers, who dove back to make the grab just past midfield and put the Sun Devils within reach of the game-winning play.

For someone who has caught just 10 passes for 204 yards and two touchdowns in his Sun Devil career, that play against USC was probably the most notable contribution of Chambers' career.

Just don't tell him that.

"It was a really good feeling, but we got the win," Chambers said. "That was the biggest thing. I come out every day to do whatever I can do to help my team succeed. If that pass would have went to anybody, as long as it was caught and as long as we were able to get that win, that's all that really matters."

Now, Chambers is the veteran of an unproven receiving corps that has been under the microscope for most of fall camp. Senior D.J. Foster has been with ASU for almost as long as Chambers, but is switching to wide receiver just this offseason, and redshirt senior Devin Lucien is fresh out of UCLA.

It's been a progression for Chambers, who now tutors the younger receivers chomping at the bit for an opportunity to prove themselves.

"We adapt over the years," Chambers said. "I personally have changed a lot. I've learned a lot, I've grown with the offense, with the system, and just being a Sun Devil for this long has been great. I've seen my teammates get older with me and the younger guys grown to the good position they're on. It's nice to be able to see that."

Bercovici and Chambers, who have connected on countless passes with the second- and third-string on the practice field as Sun Devils, have seen their careers come full circle as the starting quarterback and a key receiver.

"(Bercovici's) been on this journey with me," Chambers said. "Now that we're up here it's like he's ready. I feel like I'm ready and it's been good to be able to work with him for so long. He knows this offense like the back of his hand. I know him as a quarterback and he knows me as a receiver."

Chambers' role in 2015 should involve him almost as much as a blocker as it does as a receiver, if not more, which is a role that the Ironwood High School (Glendale) product is more than willing to fill.

"We've got so much explosiveness coming out of the backfield," Chambers said. "When all of our running backs are capable of making big plays every time they touch the ball, us being out on the perimeter and blocking is huge.

"(Blocking) is definitely something that I try to take pride in, and had to work on a lot over the years. I think I'm continuing to get better and hopefully I can continue to be good at blocking and all the rest of us can so we can make those touchdowns happen."

Related Links:

ASU football ranked No. 15 in AP preseason Top 25 Poll

ASU football's Todd Graham not worried, just working in final weeks of fall camp


Reach the reporter at fardaya@asu.edu or follow @fardaya15 on Twitter.

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