Daryl Lightfoot Ready For Eventual Spotlight

Coach Dirk Koetter has made it abundantly clear that spring practice will be a time for several players to step up, and fill the void created by the departure of others. Wide receiver Daryl Lightfoot is undoubtedly one of those players, as he tries to not only hold on to a starting position but also pick up the receiving and scoring slack that Shaun McDonald has left behind. Moments before he started to embark on this journey, he talked to DevilsDigest about this quest.

The 5-9 160 junior from local Maryvale high school has been steadily improving his numbers since he arrived in Tempe. Lightfoot had 348 all-purpose yards in eight games played in 2001. Last season he amassed 552 yards on 40 catches, while scoring twice. He has already recorded a career high 163 yards against Cal. Now, says Lightfoot, it's time to improve his play and his numbers. "I worked very hard in the off-season. The Coaches have pretty high expectations of me, and I think I responded well. I'm ready to take my game to the next level. I know there's a lot of things I can improve on."

It would be natural for Lightfoot to feel extreme burden this season, since by all accounts he's expected to be ASU's top flight wide out in 2003. However, listening to his words, you get the feeling he's taking everything in stride and not trying to compare himself to others. "I don't feel too much pressure. I'm just trying to be myself and play football. Obviously, with Shaun gone it opens more opportunities for guys like me to catch the ball, but I'm not trying to be the next Shaun McDonald. I'm trying to be the first Daryl Lightfoot (smile)."

In an offense dominated by the vertical game, the quarterback-wide receiver rapport is crucial for success. The junior says that the familiarity between him and the team's signal caller already exists, and just for good measure both of them haven't waited for spring practice to strengthen that connection. "I don't feel that I'm starting from scratch with Andrew. Myself and the other receivers already have a good rapport from last year, and when we finished working out (in the team's daily conditioning drills) Andrew and I were just throwing the ball around. We came out on the weekends too and put our time into it. So, I feel good at where him and I are at."

In the Sun Devils' passing game, the wide receivers aren't regulated to certain routes, and in essence are expected to be jack of all trades. Nevertheless, Lightfoot isn't only his surname but also an adjective that does justice to his athletic ability. "People think of me being the speedy guy at receiver, and that's exactly the role I see myself. Ever since I came here, I said I wanna go deep (smile). I got two touchdowns going pretty deep, but I want to see more than that. The big ball is always something that I'm ready to get." Lightfoot also got several looks as a punt returner, and in all honesty it has been somewhat of a roller coaster ride performing those duties. However, he doesn't wish to devote more time for his wide out duties, and less time playing on special teams. "I'm gonna do whatever the teams needs me to do. I know I can do a better job on special teams. Kick returns and punt returns are things that just come to me. If I have to do it, I'll do it. It really doesn't matter to me."

Lightfoot played in ten of the team's 14 games last season. While he was lost for one game due to injury, the other three were missed so he could cope with the mental effects following his mother's death. Going into this year, the ex-Maryvale standout sounds like a player who is at peace with himself. "I leave the off-field stuff where it belongs. I'm just concentrating on football, and I'm focused on what I have to do for the team. If I get sidetracked I'll end up the same place I was last year, and I don't want that. I'm ready to move forward and make my mark on the football field."

When Daryl Lightfoot talks about making his mark, his expectations and goals are pretty simple. "If I'm not starting at wide receiver by the end of spring practice I'll be very disappointed." With his desire and talent, fans should expect that goal to be easily fulfilled in the next few weeks.

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