Keeping Pace With The Others

The term "what have you done for me lately" is a very popular one in Football. Recent achievements, whether good or bad, are sometimes the only yardstick which fans judge players by. However, perception is that ASU running back Tom Pace, who was the leading rusher for the Sun Devils last year, isn't greeted back with much anticipation as other ASU running backs.

In the pre-season, the talk about the running back position seemed to be revolving around Delvon Flowers who missed all of last year with a knee injury, and Mike Williams who played well as a true freshman last season and is following it up with a solid pre-season. Even true freshman Hakim Hill received quite a bit of publicity after a dazzling performance in the Camp Tontozona scrimmage. So how does all this make Tom Pace feel?

"Flowers and Williams have been having a great spring." Says the senior who rushed for 720 yards and 6 touchdowns last season. "When you play at this level, it's tough sometimes to get noticed, because you have some good players on your team. It's tough to land a starting position, but I will just try and carry on what I did last year. I've been trying to do more than I can, because the competition is so hard. I just have to try hard." When asked about his prospects to be the starting running back in the Sun Devil backfield, Pace replies: "The starting position hasn't been announced yet. It's hard to say what's going on with Delvon right now, and Mike Williams is coming on strong. I'm just trying to learn the system, and do all that I can."

It seems that every ASU player has embraced Coach Koetter and his staff who came on board this past December. Pace is no different in that respect: "This year we worked hard, and coach Koetter has taught us a lot. As soon as we get the system down, we'll be OK. I think everyone on the team is trying harder this year. We know we're a good team, and we know that if we put everything together we can be a great team." The running back doesn't sense much difference between the schemes from last season under Bruce Snyder and this year under Koetter: "There's no difference in the running technique from last year, but the plays are different. I think we will establish the run, and not always be passing. I don't think my role will diminish. The running back is still involved blocking on passing plays. I don't expect to do more blocking this year, because we passed a lot last year too." How does the returning leading rusher describe his style? Quite simply: "I don't have a particular style of running. I can run well between the tackles, and on the outside too. I just wait for the big guys up front to open holes for me, and not let the opponents' big guys hit me (smile)." Pace has been successful returning kicks, and he looks forward to doing so again this year: "Special teams are very important to me. It can bring a lot of momentum in a game, and establish good field position. I do take a lot of pride in it, and I hope to contribute a lot in this area, as well as the running game. "

So what are Tom Pace's aspirations for this year. Simply and to the point he answers: "My personal goals are to do what the coaches tell me to do, and do it to the best of my ability. Stay mentally and physically in the game, and just help the team." As some may recall. Pace was a walk-on in the beginning of the season, and after a few games was justifiably awarded a scholarship. After being granted the full ride, he had to resign his pool-cleaning job. For Pace, it wasn't a moment too soon. "If a pool cleaning company van pulled next to me at a red light" He says with a big grin "I just wave to them and smile. It was a has been..." The question that looms this year, will Tom Pace be himself be a "has been" or will he all remind us why he was one of the best players on last year's squad?

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