ASU football team celebrates start of new season by breaking the rock

Weeks of grueling summer workouts come to an end for the Sun Devils

After the weeks of grueling summer workouts came to an end on Wednesday, the Arizona State football team entered into the 2017 season by smashing a rock into bits.

It was redshirt junior offensive lineman Sam Jones who did the honors of smashing the rock with a steel hammer.

Jones isn't the most noticeable player on the team; ASU head coach of sports performance Shawn Griswold knew he was the man for the job.

"He does such a great job in the community, in the classroom, being a Sun Devil, he exudes being a Sun Devil," Griswold said. "He exudes everything that we are trying to get done to win the whole thing."

"He has the respect of the entire team, and that's hard for one person to do, it doesn't always happen. He has what you call the 'it' factor, that guys just gravitate towards him."

Jones called this summer the "Best one we've ever had," and his teammates agree.

In past summers, Sun Devil football would have more of the workouts inside the Verde Dickey Dome to escape the arduous Arizona heat. But that trend ended in 2017, as ASU players did many of their workouts outdoors in the unforgiving desert sun.

Most would shy away from the idea of exercising in triple digits, but senior running back Kalen Ballage thought it was helpful.

“That sun drains you, and it causes you to really work to the best of your ability to get things done,” Ballage said.

He added that exercising in those conditions tested the mentality of players.

Another new addition for the summer workouts were GPS tracking devices that measured how fast the players could run and how much ground they covered.

Last week coach Griswold posted a picture of some of the results. Ballage was first with a high speed of 23.3 miles per hour and senior linebacker Koron Crump was second at 22.7 miles per hour. 

The fastest mark in the NFL last season was 23.24 miles per hour, ran by Tyreek Hill of the Kansas City Chiefs.

And while the breaking of the rock brought forth a joyous atmosphere with the team fondly looking back at their summer accomplishments, as well as get amped for the upcoming season, there was one reminder from last year's unimpressive 5-7 campaign that stood out.

Arizona Wildcat pictures decorated the newly-renovated weight room. Whether it be a standard Arizona logo, an image of a Wildcat's claw, or the phrase Bear Down, the pictures at every weigh station presumably served as a grim reminder of the 2016 Territorial Cup.

"The Arizona game was a horrible game for us. It was very disappointing," junior defensive lineman JoJo Wicker said. "I think it's a big motivation for us on defense too. That was one of our worst games. We're just trying to be more precise and do everything better than we did last year - that's our biggest thing."

The Sun Devils open their season against New Mexico State on Thursday, August 31 at 7:30 p.m. at Sun Devil Stadium.

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