Gammage Playing With Something to Prove

The Arizona State wide receiver corps is as talented and deep as it has been in recent years, and yet, as the Sun Devils head into their final week of spring camp, it is walk-on Fredrick Gammage who continues to shine in a starting role. After being overlooked throughout the recruiting process, Gammage is showing that he's ready to be a significant contributor in 2014.

It's often difficult to get noticed as an underclassman walk-on in college football - especially when you're just 5-10 and 173 pounds - but redshirt sophomore Fredrick Gammage has managed to find a way. Through four weeks of spring camp, the Valley native has been a regular in the Arizona State wide receiver rotation, spending most of camp with the starting offensive unit and contributing on special teams.

But just because things appear to be in his favor now, he understands how quickly things can change.

Gammage starred at Phoenix's Brophy College Prep, where despite being one of the state's top offensive skill players, he struggled to draw much recruiting attention. In fact, his only scholarship offer came from Western New Mexico University.

Gammage, whose grandfather, Jose Lagunas, is in the ASU Baseball Hall of Fame, initially pledged to the Mustangs but after a visit to the Silver City campus admitted he had a change of heart.

"I was actually committed to a D-II college and on my way back to Arizona, my dad was like, 'Do you want to play in front of 4,000 or do you want to give it a shot and play in front of 70,000,'" Gammage recently recalled after practice. "I said, 'I'd rather play in front of 70,000,' and he said, 'Let's try it.' So that's what we did. I came here with something to prove."

Gammage decided to roll the dice, de-committing from Western New Mexico and enrolling at Arizona State in 2012, just a few months after the hiring of Head Coach Todd Graham. Despite not having much of a relationship with the new coaching staff, Gammage opted to put his football future on the line and walk on that fall for the Sun Devils.

"(Walking on) is hard, but I knew what I was getting myself into," he said. "As a walk-on, you have to do a little more than everybody else. You can't be comfortable. Like, when I'm with the rest of the wide receivers out here, I can't be comfortable and think that I'm part of them, because I'm really not. I've just got to work a little harder than everyone else."

Immediately Gammage was taken under the wing of former Sun Devil wide receiver Kevin Ozier, who was also a one-time walk-on at ASU. Ozier spent his first two years at Arizona State doing whatever he had to in order to make ends meet and play football before being rewarded with a scholarship by Graham.

Ozier took what he had learned and shared it with Gammage in hopes that one day he too will experience the same satisfaction and end result that he did.

"That's my big brother," Gammage said. "He was always there for me. Ever since I came in, he saw the potential in me and just helped me take it to another level. I'd be in there watching film with Kevin and he'd give me pointers. Kevin's like a big brother to me."

Gammage redshirted in 2012, using the time off to perfect his route running and mastery of the Sun Devil offense with Ozier, while also bulking up to withstand the rigors of division I football. Since arriving on campus, Gammage estimates that he's put on close to 20 pounds thanks to Strength and Conditioning Coach Shawn Griswold.

Gammage appeared in five games for the Sun Devils in 2013, catching five passes for 32 yards, re-affirming his belief that he can indeed to play at the D-I level while also setting the stage for him to challenge Richard Smith in this year's spring camp for the starting slot receiver role.

But then the unexpected occurred when Smith announced his plans to transfer to Boise State last month, propelling Gammage to the top of the depth chart before the start of camp.

"I planned to compete whether Ric was here or not," he said. "I just came in with the same mindset as before, that I have something to prove here. They thought I couldn't play here but I've got a chip on my shoulder and something to prove."

Through four weeks, Gammage has maintained a strong grip on his starting role, often lining up with fellow wide receivers Jaelen Strong and Gary Chambers, two players he's credited for helping him develop this offseason.

"Everybody pitches a little something in," he commented. "Like me and (Jaelen) will go up there and watch film together. Gary will help me with my releases when I'm inside, so everybody has something that they pitch in that makes the whole group better."

With only one week to go in camp, Gammage figures to remain at the top of the depth chart leading up to Saturday's spring game. But with more receiving help on the way for the Sun Devils this fall, only time will tell what his role will be in 2014.

One thing is for sure though - Gammage is ready to work for whatever he wants. "(The coaches) just say keep doing what I'm doing and it'll all fall into place," he said. "I've just got to come out her everyday and prove something to them. I'm just out here trying to prove myself and show everyone that I can play at this level."

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