As film guru, ASU football's Demario Richard discovers additional outlet for leadership

The veteran Sun Devil running back has seen his studious preparation pay off.

There is an unspoken consensus among many college football players, some of whom view film study and game-planning as an extension of homework and classroom time – a chore.

ASU junior running back Demario Richard isn't one of them.

"I'm an offensive freak," Richard said. "I can read a defense like it's nothing."

Offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey has seen his share of smart and talented skill position players, including Conference USA Player of the Year Nick Mullens, his quarterback at Southern Miss, and former Auburn wideout Sammie Coates, whom Lindsey oversaw as receivers coach.

"I think all the great players are that way," Lindsey said. "So do a lot of our other guys, and I think that's the sign of a very good player."

Richard's experience and wisdom is useful for the trial by fire that has been freshman quarterback Dillon Sterling-Cole's introduction to Pac-12 play. Since redshirt sophomore Manny Wilkins has been working to get back to 100 percent after suffering an ankle injury, Sterling-Cole has seen more time in practice with the first team, as has his understudy – freshman Jack Smith – with the second team.

"If we've got a rookie out there," Richard said. "It's like 'OK, Dillon, they've got six in the box, you can be patient. OK, Dillion, they've got eight in the box, you'll want to spit it out.'

"'Dillon, they might bring the safety down – be patient, they might bring the safety down if we move this guy into motion, and it's gonna be man coverage.'"

Richard added that when redshirt freshman Brady White went down with a season-ending knee injury, he stepped up and assumed the responsibility of calling out the protection assignments prior to each snap.

Like pass blocking, punt protection, or whatever duties Richard is assigned (he even joked that he'd lineup at left tackle or left guard if asked), he completes his on-field tasks with immeasurable enthusiasm.

"I love it," Richard said. "I'd do it all game if I could. It's like having another quarterback on the field."

Redshirt sophomore quarterback Manny Wilkins played all but the final three plays in a 40-16 loss at Colorado and was fully dressed for Wednesday morning's practice, but watched as Sterling-Cole ran with the first team and Smith worked with the second team.

"It's easy for me," Richard said of scanning for defensive pressures and communicating adjustments. "I love to pass my knowledge on to Dillon and Jack and whoever else, the couple guys they might bring in next year too."

Richard learned under Mike Bercovici how to recognize changes in alignment on defensive fronts and exploit mismatches in size and speed.

"Just learning whatever I know and giving it to somebody else," Richard said. "So that they can give it to somebody else. That knowledge goes a long way."

Reach the reporter at or follow @StefanJModrich on Twitter.

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