Elder shines in debut

Playing D-I football is a tough transition for someone who has never played at that level before. Most people usually only associate that transitional period with freshmen, but Junior College transfers sometimes deal with those same problems, and luckily for Sun Devil fans, safety Eddie Elder doesn't fall into that category.

Since the first-time Sun Devil fans saw the 5'10'', 186-pound Elder this spring he has impressed with his ability to make that transition from Junior College seem simple by making several big plays from the defensive backfield.

Many expected to see plenty of Elder this season regardless of whether or not he started, but through most of fall camp he was fighting to take that spot from redshirt sophomore Keelan Johnson, and after finishing up fall camp strong, Elder got the opportunity to start in his first Division-I game and did not disappoint.

"Eddie did some really good things," coach Dennis Erickson pointed out. "He made a lot of plays. He'll get better every time he plays. He really hasn't played much other than junior college. But he's a good athlete and he's a playmaker. He's proven that."

Elder came out strong with an acrobatic interception of Portland State quarterback Connor Kavanaugh, and continued that by getting in on several tackles and was even credited with a sack when his pressure on Kavanaugh led to a penalty in the end zone and a safety for ASU; a strong showing considering how nervous he was before the game.

"I was nervous when we first got to the school, but we started rockin' the bus and I really got excited," Elder said, "all the nervousness went out of my body and I was ready to go.

"They aren't D-I, but you can see the transition: everybody is fast, you have to be assignment sound because the coaches at this level will capitalize and see your weaknesses and your strengths and attack the weaknesses. You just have to be football sound."

Elder is known as more of a ball-hawk, but really showed up well in run support and surprised some people who didn't think he could hit.

"Even though I'm small, I play fast and big," Elder admitted. "My dad always told me that the smallest people he knew back in the day were the hardest hitters, so I always pride myself on that, and my dad played a big role in it."

While the attendance for a game against a non-division-I opponent was less than impressive at Sun Devil Stadium, Elder's face lit up at the mention of playing in front of a crowd like that.

"Ah man, the most I ever played in front of at JUCO was about 3000," Elder explained. "When I first came out I didn't see a lot of fans, and I was like ‘is this what it's going to be like, we're not going to get any support?,' but when we came out, to play to me it was packed. It probably wasn't sold out or anything, but it was packed. I was excited; the student section, they were getting it rockin' and they were doing their thing."

Now as a starter, and an impressive showing in his debut, the expectations will be slightly raised for Elder, and he knows what it's going to take to keep it that way, and continue that success this Saturday against NAU.

"I've just got to pay attention to detail," Elder said simply. "Not just watch film just to watch it, take notes on little things, be patient and active on things the coaches say, be coachable and everything will take care of itself. The coaches will give us a game plan and it's our job to execute.

"They're a good team. They're fast; I know they have a good quarterback. I know we're going to have to shed blocks, make tackles and rally to the ball.

"It's just the beginning," Elder noted. "We're looking forward to doing big things this year, and we're not there yet, but we're taking steps."

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