Magee looks forward to fall practice

With spring camp officially in the rearview mirror, the Arizona State football team can now look forward to August's fall camp. Perhaps no other player on the team is more excited for the arrival of two-a-days than senior linebacker Brandon Magee. After missing all of last year with an Achilles injury, a nearly fully recovered Magee is eager to lead the Sun Devils in 2012.

Saturday marked the end of spring camp for ASU as the team conducted its final scrimmage at Sun Devil Stadium in front of approximately 5,100 football starved fans. While the offense erupted for 11 touchdowns and over 800 yards, the ASU defense had its moments, which included making a final stand on the last drive of the day, giving them something to hold their heads high about.

"Overall I thought the team looked great," said Magee as he signed autographs for fans after the scrimmage. "The offense came out and started off hot, but I thought the defense fought back towards the end. I feel like it was pretty evenly matched for the most part, so I feel good about it.

"The team defense did pretty well. I thought we came out a bit flat in the beginning, but we stuck them in the end, and the end is all that matters."

Unfortunately for Magee, he spent the afternoon watching from the sidelines as he still recovers from the Achilles injury. The coaching staff has been cautious not to rush him back to action too soon this offseason, steadily increasing his daily workload as camp progressed while withholding him from full contact drills until he is fully healed, which according to him, should be very soon.

"I'm real close to being 100 percent now," he said excitedly. "Now that we're done with spring practice, I can focus more on my rehab work and getting into the kind of shape I need to be in. I definitely feel I'll be one hundred percent this summer. I'll be doing full contact come fall."

For Magee, the fall can't come soon enough. Being relegated to the sidelines has only fueled his desire to get back on the field with his teammates and be the leader this young Sun Devil defense needs.

"I'm more than excited; I'm getting impatient," he admitted. "I've been on the sideline just watching people run the ball and that irks me. I'm going to hit a lot of people in the fall. I can guarantee that for you guys."

"I'm ready (to be a leader). I embrace it, man, 100 percent. I'll lead all the way."

This year's spring camp was the first for the Sun Devils under Head Coach Todd Graham, and one unlike any other, according to Magee. The team was put to the test each day for five weeks, whether it was strength and conditioning, film study, or their play on the field, which became a true test of endurance and mental toughness for the players as the coaching staff pushed them to their physical limits regularly.

"It was the toughest spring camp I've ever been a part of," said Magee. "We had film study on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 7:00 every morning and that's after having practice on Tuesday and Thursday. And in practice, they've had us sprinting around, on and off the field. Honestly, everything was different and I really think it will all work out for the best."

The Sun Devil defense was also introduced to a 3-4 defensive scheme this spring, something that Coach Graham hopes to implement but has brought along slowly. The team experimented with that defensive look most frequently during the final week of camp with varying success. Still, Magee feels the defense played well overall and looks forward to playing in the new system.

"I think we learned a lot and we're embracing the challenge," Magee stated. "We've had to learn a whole new system. We've had to learn how these coaches coach; everything has been different this year. But I honestly think everything is looking good."

Magee's return will bolster a young linebacking core, that despite being inexperienced, showed signs of potential in the spring. Junior walk-on Grandville Taylor filled in admirably for Magee at the starting middle linebacker position for most of camp. He was often times flanked by fellow walk-on Brandon Johnson and former junior college transfer Kipeli Koniseti, as the group received valuable, extended playing time that will only serve them well come August.

"Honestly, they all stepped up big time," Magee commented. "They were huge for us this spring. There were times when we only had three healthy linebackers and couldn't even go two deep, and that's tough on anybody, but especially in this kind of heat. I've got to thank them because they each did a great job this spring."

One of the hot topics throughout the spring was undoubtedly the quarterback battle between Mike Bercovici, Michael Eubank and Taylor Kelly. All three had had their moments over the course of camp and Saturday was the final chance for each to state their case before heading into the summer as they all put up impressive numbers leading the Sun Devil offense.

Like most others, Magee looks forward to watching them continue to battle it out in the fall as he insists it's still too close to call.

"The quarterback battle was great, as you all saw," he said. "They each bring something to the table and I thought they were all fantastic today. I think, for all three of them, it was the best competition of the whole spring practice and it was a great way to end it."

"Honestly, I think they're all tied. It's like Coach Graham said, it's a close competition."

As the team now breaks for summer, one thing for both fans and players to look forward to is renewing the old Sun Devil tradition of visiting Camp Tontozona sometime during the offseason. The school announced this week that they hope to use the facility in the next couple months if they can secure the funding to upgrade the site.

"I think it's awesome that we're going back," Magee said. "It's going to bring all of us closer together. It's a tradition that ASU has had for a long time and I feel blessed for the opportunity to go back."

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