Newcomer Report

Not only did two true freshmen start on ASU’s defense in their season opener versus Weber State, but the Sun Devils also featured nine first time college starters and overall 24 players donned the maroon and gold for the very first time during 45-14 win Thurs night. Therefore, the time is right to revive one of the oldest features on our website where we track the feats of ASU’s first-year players

D.J. Calhoun – Couldn’t ask for a stronger debut from the true freshman WILL linebacker, who was actually at the post-game press conference alongside Taylor Kelly and D.J. Foster. Five tackles, one of them for a loss and a pass breakup were his stats and seemingly consensus defensive MVP of the game. But more than that he played with the fearless attitude that has quickly become his calling card ever since arriving in the spring. His tackle for loss and pass breakup came on back to back plays which ultimately forced the Wildcats to punt on that possession.

His aggressiveness and speed fits this scheme like a glove. Graham said that when Calhoun makes a mistake he does so at a rate of 100 miles an hour, but last night he was assignment sound and had a strong game which can provide a strong foundation for the rest of the season.

Kalen Ballage – the true freshman running back rushed 37 yards on 12 carries and scored a touchdown. Also had a 6-yard reception. It was clear from the get-go that Ballage was going to just try and truck over defenders and that over aggressiveness, even against a team such as Weber State, didn’t usually serve him well. He will naturally have to change his approach (lower running style for starters) and try and be niftier with his running and open field moves.

Demario Richard – Ballage’s fellow true freshman running back was more impressive in my eyes. Had 25 yards on only six carries in addition to a 22-yard reception. He really looks the part with his running style and solid technique and it’s no fluke that he is listed as D.J. Foster’s backup. All-around formidable player with good pass blocking skills and reception skills.

Ellis Jefferson – the redshirt freshman is another player who’s solid camp performance has translated to the season opener. 37 yards on just four catches and his first ever touchdown as a Sun Devil in a 15-yard reception from roommate Mike Bercovici.

Ronald Lewis – Not a bad game for the redshirt freshman wide receiver with a 6-yard reception and 5-yard rush.

James Johnson – the safety who was in a heated battle for a starting position made the most of his reserve duty and collected a team-high two pass breakups along with a tackle. Last night proved once again that even in a deep safety group the redshirt freshman can and will stand out with his range and high football I.Q.

Armand Perry – the preseason camp sensation didn’t disappoint last night with three total tackles and partially blocked punt, which makes you wonder if he could really master that role on special teams. Either way, even a reserve role we expect to see this true freshman and perhaps the steal of the 2014 class a lot this season.

Alani Latu – five tackles, four of them solo for the redshirt freshman all during the second half when the reserves played the lion share of that period. Was however one of the culprits in Weber State’s 60 yd TD run. Salamo Fiso’s backup at SAM could have had a better showing out of the gates, but the potential is certainly there.

Jordan Simone – one the newest scholarship players on ASU did get the start as expected at bandit safety. Nice game with three tackles but with the stiff competition at his position could have his hands full all season holding on to his first team role.

Marcus Ball – the long awaited debut of this redshirt freshman did take place. Had two tackles and whatever rust he may have had he’s more than capable covering up with football IQ and communication skills.

Kweishi Brown – the JC transfer corner saw early action in the first nickel package. Had two tackles on the night and will continue and challenge for the spot opposite Lloyd Carrington.

True freshman corner Chad Adams, redshirt junior defensive back Luke Williams, redshirt freshman defensive lineman Corey Smith and redshirt junior defensive lineman Demetrius Cherry each had a tackle.

Not unusual for defensive tackles to go “tackle-less” and that is what happened to Tashon Smallwood last night, but did contribute to the overall solid performance the defense had. Same can be said about his fellow true freshman, linebacker Christian Sam.

Redshirt freshman linebacker Chans Cox, senior defensive back Ronnie Sellers, and JC transfer linebacker Edmond Boateng saw action in the season opener as well. On offense, redshirt freshman offensive lineman Jack Powers, true freshman tight end Brendan Landman, redshirt freshman tight end Grant Martinez and true freshman running back Jacom Brimhall made their ASU debut.

Technically, junior offensive lineman, Christian Westerman, who transferred from Auburn and was able to actually make his debut in the Holiday Bowl, is technically not a newcomer anymore but we would be remiss if we didn’t mention the great block he threw that was significant in Foster’s career-high 57-yard touchdown run.


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