Devils Digest's 2014 Post-Season Awards

Best quoted player. Best player to exemplify "All In." Best player to exemplify "Left Lane Hammer Down." Members of our Devils Digest staff voted on some unique categories, as well as more traditional ones as we bring you our selections for ASU's 2014 Post-Season Awards.

Byron Kline

Defensive MVP: Viliami Moeakiola

While other members of the Arizona State defense may have put up better statistics in 2014, it’s tough to argue against the impact that Moeakiola had on the unit over the course of the season. Sure, the redshirt sophomore may have totaled 72 tackles, 10.5 tackles for a loss and five sacks on the year, but his greatest contribution may have been his calming presence.

It’s no secret that the defense performed at a higher level when the talented SPUR linebacker was on the field. Moeakiola was the vocal leader of the group; the quarterback of the front seven who communicated assignments to his teammates which is why Coach Graham made him a team captain.

Perhaps the best example of his value came at the team’s expense late in the season when Moeakiola, who battled shoulder issues throughout the year, was forced to miss significant time against Oregon State and Arizona (he did not finish either game). Arizona State gave up a number of big plays in both games, including 14 quick points to start the second half against Arizona, which resulted in losses for the Sun Devils. In fact, if you include the UCLA game, ASU went 0-3 in 2014 in games that Moeakiola was unable to finish due to injury.

Offensive MVP: D.J. Foster

This can go one of two ways but for me, the 2014 Offensive MVP was D.J. Foster. Not only did the junior running back rush for 1,081 yards and nine touchdowns, but he also caught 62 passes for 688 yards and another three scores, demonstrating his versatility in the offense. Foster led the team with 1,769 all-purpose yards and was the only player in the nation with more than 1,000 receiving yards and 600 or more rushing yards on the year.

Foster’s 62 receptions in 2014 rank as the 10th most in school history, a remarkable feat considering his split duties in the backfield and the slot wide receiver position. The talented playmaker also caught 63 passes in 2013, making him just the third player at ASU to ever record 60-plus receptions in consecutive seasons.

And let’s not forget that Foster also gave Sun Devil fans the biggest #BOOM of the offseason when he announced last week he’ll be coming back for his senior season.

Team MVP: D.J. Foster

Best Newcomer: Demario Richard

No surprise here considering the writing was on the wall in Fall Camp. It was only going to be a matter time before Demario Richard became the man at running back for ASU. In 12 games, the true freshman rushed for 478 yards and four touchdowns and his 5.69 yards per carry were tops on the team (Sorry, Cam Smith, but you and your 8.33 YPC on just three carries don’t count).

Richard proved to also be a valuable weapon in the passing game, catching 14 passes for 156 yards and four more touchdowns in 2014.

The 5-10, 210 pound back had a breakout game against Notre Dame with three catches for 51 yards and touchdown to go along with 50 yards rushing and another score in the win. Richard demonstrated that he’s more than capable of handling the load at running back heading onto next year with his four- touchdown Sun Bowl performance while capturing the game’s Offensive MVP award.

Breakout Player: Mike Bercovici

It might seem like an odd pick considering he only played significant minutes in three games, but yeah, I’m gonna go there. The redshirt junior arrived at ASU in 2011 and prior to this season, I don’t think anyone knew for sure what the Sun Devils had in Mike Bercovici. We knew about the arm strength and the gunslinger mentality, but except for a few garbage time appearances, the verdict was still out on him.

Not anymore though.

Bercovici filled in admirably for the injured Taylor Kelly, guiding the Sun Devils to two wins over conference foes and providing Sun Devil fans with the most memorable play of the year (SPOILER ALERT!).

While his starter debut was rocky (42-68 for 488 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions), Bercovici was able to rebound nicely, becoming the first player ever to throw for five touchdowns against USC and his 510 passing yards were the second-most ever against the Trojans.

With Bercovici set to become the starting quarterback next season, 2015 looks very promising for the Sun Devils.

Most Surprising Player: Jordan Simone

Not many Sun Devil fans can say they truly expected Jordan Simone, a former walk-on who didn’t earn a scholarship until the week before the season started, to be a significant contributor on defense in 2014. Heck, most (myself included) thought he was just keeping the seat warm for Marcus Ball or James Johnson during spring and fall camp before it became a little more clear that he indeed was going to be in the rotation at safety, if not the starter.

In the end, Simone finished the year second on the team in tackles with 100 to go along with 4.5 tackles for a loss, one sack, two interceptions and one fumble recovery. The junior logged a career-high 20 tackles against USC and recorded five games with 10 or more tackles.

Simone proved to be a sure-tackler in the Sun Devil secondary and his experience and leadership heading into 2015 is invaluable considering the team will be replacing its other starting safety in Damarious Randall.

Most Disappointing Player: Taylor Kelly

I hate to do it after everything he accomplished over the last three years, but there’s no way around it. As a senior and three year starter, many expected Taylor Kelly to take that next step and elevate the Sun Devils in 2014. Instead, he regressed and never quite looked like himself.

Kelly completed 165-278 pass attempts for 2,114 yards, 22 touchdowns and just five interceptions on the year. While most of his passing numbers are affected by the time he missed due to injury, the most alarming thing to me was his passing percentage. In 2012, Kelly completed 67.1% of his passes. Last year it dipped to 62.4%. However, in 2014 Kelly completed a paltry 59.4% of his passes. Given the weapons ASU had on offense, that number is shockingly low for an experienced quarterback like Kelly.

Thankfully, he went out a winner looking more like the TK Sun Devils fans came to know over the last couple of seasons in the team’s Sun Bowl win, completing 24-34 passes for 240 yards and two touchdowns. Despite his less than stellar senior campaign though, Kelly deserves to be remembered for his full body of work at ASU. He helped lay the foundation for what’s been a spirited revival of sorts for Arizona State football. Sun Devil fans everywhere should applaud the young man’s effort and his contribution to the program.

Best Assistant Coach: Jackie Shipp (Defensive Line)

Going into 2014, it was anybody’s guess what to expect from the defensive line. The unit was replacing all four starters from a year ago, including Will Sutton and Carl Bradford, and definitely looked like it could be the team’s weak link. Instead, despite lacking a true Devil backer and starting a true freshman at defensive tackle, the group helped set the tone for a Sun Devil defense that surpassed most everyone’s expectations.

The best example of the defensive line’s turnaround was senior DE Marcus Hardison, who after recording just five tackles in 2013, tallied 53 tackles, 15 tackles for a loss, 10 sacks and two interceptions on the year.

The defense’s saving grace may have been the decision to scrap the Devil backer position after ASU’s loss to UCLA, opting for a more traditional 4-3 look while rotating between the “jumbo” and “small” defensive lines. With everyone except for Hardison back next year, the defensive line should be an area of strength for the Sun Devils in 2015.

Play of the Year: #JaelMary

I’m sorry but it is, even if we’ve been encouraged (by Hod) to pick something else that isn’t so predictable. But if we’re going to pick a second best play of the year, I’ll take Kweishi Brown’s game-saving interception against Duke in the Sun Bowl. Not only did it preserve the win and give ASU its first back-to-back 10 win seasons since the 1970’s, but it also provides the Sun Devils (and their fans) a great deal of momentum heading into the offseason.

We all know what it felt like in 2013, watching ASU lose to Texas Tech at the Holiday Bowl. It wasn’t fun. It left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. ASU came dangerously close to repeating that same disaster until Brown came up with his second forced turnover of the game. Hopefully the momentum can help the staff land a couple of highly rated recruits before signing day and then the team can start Spring Camp with confidence and its eyes set squarely on taking back the Pac-12 South.

Best Moment of the Year: Covering the USC Win in Los Angeles

Watching it is one thing. Being on the sidelines is another. The memory of a silenced Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum will be remembered forever. The #JaelMary was thrilling and watching the team celebrate on the field and in the locker room afterwards made it truly special.

Shoutout to Adam and Ross (gone but not forgotten) for being there to also cover the game.

Worst Moment of the Year: The Loss at Oregon State

Some might say the loss to Arizona. Personally, I never saw ASU beating them, even before the season started. But Oregon State? What the heck was that!?!

I know Corvallis can be a tricky place to play, especially in November, but the Beavers were not good in 2014. They finished the season 5-7 and their only other conference win was over Colorado. I mean, c’mon! ASU was ranked sixth in the nation and had forced its way into the college football playoff discussion after its win over Notre Dame. The Sun Devils had absolutely no business losing that game.

They gave up a couple big scoring plays early on (not surprising since they practiced all week without pads…sigh) only to come back, claim a double-digit lead just to lose in the end, sealed with a Taylor Kelly pick six.

I’m sick (again).

The Arizona disaster wouldn’t have even mattered had ASU just beaten Oregon State. That was truly disappointing.

Best Quoted Player: Mike Bercovici

I mean, I guess. I’ll say this, 2014 made me appreciate guys like Alden Darby, Carl Bradford, Osahon Irabor, Chris Coyle and even Will Sutton a bit more. Those interviews were fun. Even the Marcus Hardison 2013 edition was more entertaining than Marcus Hardison this year. The guys this season were, for the most part, so young and inexperienced that you didn’t really know what to expect heading into an interview.

I guess Demario Richard was usually fun. The kid’s got a ton of confidence and doesn’t care much for USC or Lane Kiffin.

But yeah, Bercovici, as we all know, is a really intelligent guy who gives solid responses and isn’t afraid to say what he feels, which I feel like sometimes other players don’t always do. NO NAMES!

Redshirt Player You Most Look Forward to Seeing in 2015: De’Chavon Hayes

They redshirted players in 2014? Who??

Just kidding.

Hayes was supposed to be a special teams, um, specialist in 2014. (Side note: Wouldn’t that have been a nice weapon to have had?) Unfortunately, academics delayed his arrival, ultimately forcing him to redshirt. The media didn’t get to see much of him in practice during the season, but boy did he shine in some of those bowl game prep practice sessions. Hayes is definitely a big play threat no matter where he lines up on the field and he has the confidence to complement his play. Plus, he said in an interview with us that he plans to take at least five kickoffs/punts to the house in 2015, so who wouldn’t be excited for that, right?

Describe ASU’s season in 140 characters or less:

Good but not great. ASU exceeded expectations but missed a golden opportunity. #UnfinishedBusiness #BringOnBerco

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Joe Healey

Offensive MVP

Jaelen Strong

Time will tell how Strong is remembered at his position by Sun Devil fans when compared to College Football Hall of Fame member John Jefferson, former conference receptions leader Derek Hagan and others, but the two-year superstar may very well be the most talented wide receiver ever to play for Arizona State. That nearly unmatched skill set came in handy in both routine and miraculous ways in 2014, as he brought dynamic consistency to the Arizona State offense. An All-American by numerous publications, Strong made many plays that 99.9% of college football players simply cannot, more than a few of which were for integral gains or crucial touchdowns. Without a doubt, Strong’s early departure to the NFL leaves the most gaping hole for ASU to fill heading into 2015.

Defensive MVP

Marcus Hardison

Hardison came to ASU as one of the premier junior college transfers for the 2013 class but was merely a role player his first year, placing tremendous urgency on improvement for his senior season in 2014. As the year progressed, Hardison’s abilities and contributions accelerated mightily as he because a freakish defensive threat in his ability to disrupt quarterbacks in a variety of ways. Ultimately, he was the team leader with 10.0 sacks and was disruptive in forcing quarterback pressure and turnovers and earned Honorable Mention All-Pac-12 recognition at the conclusion of the season.

Team MVP

D.J. Foster

The “Hometown Hero” moniker fits Foster perfectly and his heroics and overall presence on the team have him on the verge of recognition among the greatest all-purpose athletes ever to play for Arizona State. As versatile an athlete as has ever suited up for the Sun Devils, though Foster didn’t keep his intergalactic rushing numbers he started the season with, he remained a force and surpassed the 1,000-yard rushing mark on the year. In addition to his rushing prowess, he remained a force as a pass-catcher as he crept his way into the top-five on ASU’s all-time receptions list. Recently, Foster cemented his role as the face of the program as he announced his decision to return for his senior season, referencing the desire to finish his studies and finish what he started in terms of championship aspirations.

Best Newcomer

Demario Richard

A four-star prospect coming out of high school last year, Richard came to ASU with high expectations and was able to show major promise during his rookie season. Much like his fellow Palmdale (Calif.) High School graduate and Sun Devil legend Derek Hagan did in 2002, Richard made his true freshman season in 2014 a memorable one as the running back rushed for 478 yards with four touchdowns at an impressive clip of 5.7 yards per carry while adding 156 receiving yards and another four scores. In all, Richard’s eight total touchdowns ranked third on the team behind superstars D.J. Foster and Jaelen Strong.

Regularly showing a bullish, resilient running style and the versatility to rush and receive the ball with equal potency, Richard’s four-touchdown effort in ASU’s Sun Bowl victory over Duke gives him massive momentum heading into his sophomore season in which he is likely to take on an even greater role with D.J. Foster likely to see more action as a receiver.

Breakout Player

Mike Bercovici

Though the sample size is relatively small with only three starts, Bercovici created a level of appeal in a few short weeks that resonated the entire season as many believed he should have remained starting quarterback even when fifth-year senior Taylor Kelly returned from an early-season injury. Berco’s road to the starting lineup was a long and tumultuous one as the fourth-year junior never saw substantial game action before his first start against UCLA in September.

Though that game was one of the most forgettable efforts of Todd Graham’s tenure in Tempe, the next game Bercovici helped create one of the most unforgettable memories in Sun Devil history with his “Jael Mary” game-winning touchdown heave to Jaelen Strong before helping to orchestrate ASU’s first win over Stanford since 2008. Using his leadership, confidence and fearlessness in the pocket, in a short period of time Bercovici made an indelible mark on the 2014 season and creates major confidence for the quarterback position heading into 2015.

Most surprising player

Jordan Simone

Twelve months ago, if you asked 100 Sun Devil fans who Jordan Simone is, it would be a shock if a single one even knew he was a member of the Arizona State football team. In the spring, Simone elevated to a first-team position at safety but many felt that he was just a placeholder until the highly acclaimed Marcus Ball returned to full health. Similar to Gannon Conway in 2013, Simone not only refused to relinquish his first-string role, but was placed on scholarship shortly before the season started and went on to become one of ASU’s most tenacious and reliable defenders. Solid in the first few games of the year, Simone burst on the scene with a 20-tackle effort in ASU’s #JaelMary victory over USC and his value was also later felt in his absence when the Sun Devils struggled defensively against Arizona. In all, the former Washington State transfer earned Honorable Mention All-Pac-12 accolades after collecting 100 tackles and two interceptions. Entering 2015, the former walk-on figures to be a key team leader, potential team captain and figures to rank fourth in the Pac-12 in tackles among returning players behind Arizona’s Scooby Wright, Utah’s Jared Norris and Stanford’s Blake Martinez.

Most disappointing player

Taylor Kelly

The senior season and overall legacy of Taylor Kelly are topics that are difficult to evaluate and his place in Sun Devil history is something already hotly debated by Arizona State fans. A Second-Team All-Pac-12 honors recipient after guiding Arizona State to the Pac-12 championship game in 2013, Kelly was expected to remain one of the league’s premier quarterbacks as a fifth-year senior in 2014.

In the first three games of the season, Kelly struggled to find his typical form and against Colorado in game three he suffered a foot injury that would cause him to miss action against UCLA, USC and Stanford. In Kelly’s place, Mike Bercovici put up video game type statistics and helped engineer two significant wins, causing a tremendous quarterback controversy – that is, just about everywhere beside within the Sun Devil football program as head coach Todd Graham insisted Kelly was and would remain the starter.

Kelly’s play never truly returned to his 2013 form, but he was still able to help keep ASU at a successful level with close wins over Washington and Utah and a marquee program victory over Notre Dame. Despite the victories, however, Kelly showed to be more prone to mistakes than usual and was not the typical running threat he is known to be due to the lingering impact of the injury. The Taylor Kelly that absolutely torched teams such as Washington, Washington State and Arizona in 2013 seemed to be far away from the player occupying the No. 10 jersey in 2014. These complications surfaced in an irreparable fashion in gut-wrenching losses at Oregon State and Arizona – the latter prompting Graham to insert Bercovici back into the lineup late in the game.

Overall, by the standards of many other programs and many other players, Kelly’s senior season would not be considered a major disappointment; however, Kelly’s health and performance were at levels noticeably below his personal par and the impact was most tangibly felt in ASU’s win-loss record.

Best player to exemplify "All In"

D.J. Foster

Every so often a player comes along that does everything for the team – no matter the request – in a fashion that exceeds yet motivates those around him. Under Dirk Koetter and Dennis Erickson this was the calling card of Rudy Burgess, and Foster has etched his way in a similar do-it-all fashion under Todd Graham. One of the nation’s most versatile athletes on the field and a model representative of Arizona State and Sun Devil football, Foster’s commitment has never been in question and recently amplified to even greater heights with his noble reasoning for returning for his senior season.

Best player to exemplify "Left Lane Hammer Down"

Jamil Douglas

Not many players on the team can hammer the weight room like Douglas, one of the absolute strongest players on the entire squad. Far from just a workout warrior, Douglas was asked to move to left tackle for his senior season after spending his entire career at guard but answered the call in perfect form as he was voted a First-Team All-Pac-12 member in 2014.

Additionally, Douglas breaks the mold of the meathead, hog-molly offensive lineman as he was named a First-Team Pac-12 All-Academic selection as a senior after earning Honorable Mention accolades the year before. A true team leader with an NFL future, Douglas capped his Sun Devil career dropping the hammer on the weights, the books and attacking defenders.

Best assistant coach

Jackie Shipp

Entering the 2014 season, the biggest talking point surrounding ASU’s potential was how the defense would perform after replacing nine starters from the previous season. In the early stages of the season, that issue seemed to be a major liability as the Devils simply could not create a defensive identity or forge many playmakers on defense – especially up front along the line.

After the first month or so of the season, however, things began to click, and as the season progressed the defensive line – individually and collectively – made tremendous advancements. Marcus Hardison went from a player many were ready to label a high-profile recruiting bust to a double-figure sack contributor, Demetrius Cherry went from a virtual nobody to a solid starter and others such as Mo and Viliami Latu made noteworthy contributions despite limited expectations to start the year.

Furthermore, this was all done with sporadic availability of the most veteran defensive lineman, Jaxon Hood, who missed the majority of the final portion of the season. Though players at other positions surely helped, the improvement of Shipp’s linemen helped enable ASU to once again rank in the nation’s top-10 in both sacks and tackles-for-loss – two areas that were major deficiencies early in the season.

Play of the Year

If we’re in obvious agreement that the #JaelMary is the clear winner and the conversation is about the silver medal recipient, my choice goes to a play that occurred at a time when Sun Devil fans felt a shot at greatness slipping through their collective fingers. After one of the most incredible halves of football played in Sun Devil Stadium in recent memory, ASU allowed Notre Dame to nearly erase a 28-point Sun Devil lead in the second half as the Fighting Irish pulled within three as the score stood at 34-31 with under seven minutes left to play.

On the ensuing possession, ASU gained some major breathing room with a Demario Richard touchdown to extend the lead to 10, but the resurrected Notre Dame offense got right back to work and had the ball near midfield before a pass bobbled by Irish receiver Corey Robinson was snatched by ASU cornerback Lloyd Carrington and taken 58 yards for a score that sent Sun Devil Stadium into a frenzy and polished off the Irish once and for all.

Best moment of the Year

For a brief moment in early November, it appeared as though Arizona State was steamrolling its way to the top of the college football world. A top-10 team and key contender for the College Football Playoff, the Sun Devils were poised to watch the final moments unravel with an imminent win over the most storied college athletics program in history, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish – also a top-10 team at the time. The certainty of victory as ASU held a 55-31 edge had the stadium in party mode and that jubilation was put into action with the Sun Devil kickoff team celebrating to the tune of “Turn Down For What”, making Sun Devil Stadium follow suit with rejoice.

Though my typical taste might have been some celebratory George Strait or Garth Brooks, I can tip my cap to the fun that was enjoyed in those final victorious minutes.

Worst moment of the Year

Many thought ASU’s trip to Corvallis, Ore., was an upset waiting to happen – but this year’s team seemed to be one capable of withstanding such bad spirits. After relinquishing a first half lead, ASU found itself down a point to the Oregon State Beavers with just under three minutes to play.

Despite the frustration of a top-10 Sun Devil squad squandering its lead, hopes were that Taylor Kelly could resurrect fans’ faith in him with a game-winning drive to allow ASU maintain in the thick of the College Football Playoff hunt. This heartwarming idea quickly turned to heartbreak as a second down pass was intercepted by OSU’s Michael Doctor and run back 35 yards for a touchdown, creating the game’s final margin of victory for the Beavers at 35-27 and effectively squashing Arizona State’s championship aspirations.

Best quoted player

Damarious Randall

Whether in front of a crowd or in the virtual arena of Twitter, Randall has provided some memorable, insightful and amusing lines befitting an ultra-confident defensive back. On the field, his play spoke for itself as the First-Team All-Pac-12 honors recipient was ASU’s leading tackler on the year.

Redshirted player you look most forward to seeing in 2015

De’Chavon “Gump” Hayes

If not for a frustrating academic clearance process, Hayes could have been a key contributor for ASU this season with his top-notch speed as with the exception of Kalen Ballage’s massive kick return near the end of the Sun Bowl, special teams returns were a total non-factor for the Sun Devils. Also a talented rusher who can handle the ball in a number of ways, after redshirting in 2014, Hayes should be a high-caliber option in multiple roles on offense and special teams.

Describe ASU's 2014 season in 140 characters or less

#UnfinishedBusiness still unfinished. Can Berco bring #NC16?

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Kyle Caldwell

Offensive MVP

There are several players that could have earned this award. Senior Taylor Kelly had a great season statically as well as Jaelen Strong. Mike Bercovici for coming in and saving the middle of the season. Zane Gonzalez for leading the team in scoring (118 points) going 22-27 on field goal attempts. Yet award in my book goes to junior Running Back/Receiver D.J. Foster. Every game this guy put it on the opponents. Sometimes it seemed like quiet production yet looking at the body of work here at the end of the season you have to be impressed. 136 yards per game. 72 points scored. The kind of character you love to see succeed; D.J. Foster earns my offensive MVP vote.

Defensive MVP

On the defensive side of the ball we saw some serious production in terms of who could have won this award. Great candidates in Jordan Simone, Marcus Hardison, Laiu Moeakiola and Salamo Fiso. My vote goes to senior Damarious Randall. Leading the team with 106 tackles, 9.5 for loss, one sack, three interceptions 12 pass defenses, two forced fumbles with one recovery. Those are dominating in any scheme. Randall came to play every game and his production and the Sun Devils results because of it make him my defensive MVP.

Team MVP

Much like the two awards above, the team MVP award could go to several key contributors on this team. Yet my vote here is going to Jaelen Strong. The rock on this offense that you knew was going to perform no matter what the case was. A guy that helped put ASU on the map this season and someone who will go down as one of the greatest Sun Devils to play in the Maroon and Gold. Jaelen was a work horse every week and because of that I see him as the team’s MVP. We will miss you in your senior season Jaelen. go make us proud!

Best Newcomer

As the season rolled along I think this picture became a lot cleaner as freshman running back Demario Richard carved his way to a productive campaign. 634 total yards and fourth on the team in scoring with 48 points. I am sure I speak for many when we say we can’t wait to see this talented back take over the main role in the backfield.

Breakout Player

Without a doubt this one is easy for me. The learning curve was a struggle last season while there had been a lot expectations placed on this player coming into ASU. Yet he took advantage of his senior year and made a huge impact on defense. Marcus Hardison wins my breakout player award for his 10 sack season. He also had two interceptions, four passes defended and 15 TFLs. A breakout season in every fashion as he dominated at times up front. Another senior that will be dearly missed next year. Great job Hardison on a fantastic season.

Most surprising player

I chose Jordan Simone for this award. Before the season I don’t think there were many of us that thought this walk on was going to make the impact he did. Sure enough, he over achieved in every way and really helped the back end of the Sun Devil defense. Second on the team in tackles with 100, two interceptions, two recovered fumbles, one forced and one sack. I was surprised and I am sure many of you were as well to watch this guy develop this season. Great job Simone!

Most disappointing player

Hard to say this because overall he really did help the Devils succeed both on and off the field, yet I chose De’Marieya Nelson as the most disappointing player this season. Not because he didn’t do well but mostly because of what he didn’t do. Like many, I was expecting huge things from this senior and the production just wasn’t there. Whether it be the shuffling of positions or lack of focus, I just didn’t see the guy he was capable of being.

Best player to exemplify "All In"

I am giving this award to Laiu Moeakiola. A player that gave it his all this whole season battling through a shoulder injury that wanted to keep him off the field. Yet each week he kept putting on the pads and working his butt off to stay out there and help the team win. When he was sidelined, the defense hurt because of it and you have to thank him for all the efforts he put in to play through his injuries and help this team. That is “All In” in my eyes!

Best player to exemplify "Left Lane Hammer Down"

I am basing this award on his career under Coach Graham and staff which the numbers speak for themselves here. Senior Quarterback Taylor Kelly was the main piece to the Sun Devils potent offense. He goes down in the records books as one of the best Sun Devils to play and his approach to leading this offense was impressive to watch through these three years. The hammer was always down with Kelly and he competed to the best of his ability which I appreciate as a fan. Thank you Taylor for lots of fireworks and memories that won’t be forgotten. A true Sun Devil.

Best assistant coach

I’d like to give this award to Coach Bo Graham. Many thought the decision a few years ago to move Coach Bo Graham to running backs coach was a mistake. However, if you have followed the growth of this position group and developments in the recruiting world off the field, you will see Bo’s successes. Hearing lots of great things about his relationship with his players and you have to love the success this position group has had both on and off the field.

Play of the Year

I know almost all of Sun Devil nation would vote for the “Jael Mary” to go down as the play of the year for them. However the play I chose was Zane Gonzalez’s overtime field goal for win against Utah. This was a huge victory for the Sun Devils and without Zane going four for five on the night the Devils would have been out down by the Utes.

Best moment of the Year

The best moment of the season for me was being a fan at the Notre Dame game. #9 vs. #10 at the time and a revenge game that you didn’t know how it was going to play out. The Sun Devils scored 21 points in the fourth quarter and the sold out Sun Devil stadium was rocking! ASU’s defense finished the game with 61 tackles, including 10 for loss and seven sacks, and added four interceptions and two forced fumbles. It was a magical day to be a part of and I will always hold that victory precious in my memory books!

Worst moment of the Year

I think this is a clear choice here which I call the “fumble in Corvallis”. The Sun Devils were primed to take their claim in 2014, ranked #6 in the country. We had forgotten about the UCLA loss. All was right in the world up until this road game when the Devils let their pre-season goals slip away. Would the Devils have finished out the year winning out? Would the momentum all swung to their control. Would the Devils have the mojo to head South and beat the school in Tucson? All questions we will never know now. This game and performance was collective the “worst moment of the year” in my eyes. It led to a letdown that Sun Devil nation felt all the way around.

Best quoted player

The guy I love listening to is quarterback Mike Bercovici. A true competitor that always wants what is best for the team. You listen when he speaks and he says all the right things that truly make you root for the guy. When it was his turn, he stepped up and took control. He fully understood his roll and embraces being a true Sun Devil teammate. He is ready to compete in 2015 and I know we all look forward to watching him grow as the starter.

Redshirted player you look most forward to seeing in 2015

From everything we have heard from practice reports and a player that I coached against at the high school level that I am really anxious to see here in 2015 is freshman Ismael Murphy-Richardson. This guy is crazy talented on both sides of the ball yet after a year of working with Coach Gris and learning the playbook on defense; I think he has all the tools to dominate. He will be a force to be seen if it all comes together.

Describe ASU's 2014 season in 140 characters or less (or more)

Ups and downs filled all our hearts at the season’s end. A losses to teams we felt the Sun Devils should have beat, big wins against tough opponents. Position battles throughout the season that left us all struggling to find the right answers. It was one crazy year in Tempe. Yet back to back 10 win seasons is a huge mile stone that shows all the amazing work this staff has put together. The ASU Football program is now alive with energy and great things are coming together for the future. Like many, I can’t wait to sit in my seats and support this program. Let 2015 be the best we have ever been witness to!

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Adam Stites

Offensive MVP: D.J. Foster

Foster didn’t quite finish the season on the same tear that he began the season on, but when all was said and done, he finished the year with some pretty gaudy numbers. He had more than double the rushing yards of any other player on the roster and only Jaelen Strong managed to contribute more as a pass catcher.

No player scored more touchdowns and no player came even close to racking up as much yardage, making Foster the easy choice for offensive MVP.

Defensive MVP: Damarious Randall

He began the year with the goal of racking up interceptions and that didn’t quite happen for Randall. It took until November for the safety to get his first pick of the year, but it was tackles that he ended up racking up instead.

Unfortunately for the team, Randall was chiefly responsible for a few of the big plays that haunted the ASU defense at times in 2014, but the aggressive safety went on a tear at one point in the season that was largely the reason why the defense was able to carry the team to Pac-12 South contention.

Team MVP: Marcus Hardison

All that said about Randall, it was Hardison that set the tone for the entire team in 2014. Despite very limited play time in 2013, the senior took on a leadership role for the young ASU defense and led by example on the field too.

Hardison finished the year with 10.0 sacks, becoming only the third player to reach double-digit sacks for the Sun Devils in the last six seasons. Only Carl Bradford and Will Sutton managed to do so in 2012, playing positions better suited to rush the passer, I might add.

Best Newcomer: Demario Richard

For all the yardage racked up by Foster, it was Richard that finished with the better yards per carry average in 2014. He capped his season with a three touchdown performance against Duke, but it was the culmination of a great season for the true freshman.

The story all year for Richard was his age, which was made even more interesting by the fact that the running back set himself apart with the mature, patient running of a seasoned veteran.

Breakout Player: Jordan Simone

A year ago there were few people that even thought Simone would be starting in the ASU defense in 2014, let alone an extremely key piece. Everything that was said about the strong season of Damarious Randall could also be applied to Simone, who racked up tackles and managed to be the guy in the right place at the right time often.

Simone promises to be a key leader in the ASU defense in 2014 and it wouldn’t be surprising at all if he is named a team captain in 2015 less than a year after he was awarded a scholarship.

Most surprising player: Mike Bercovici

Coaches raved about Bercovici and players expressed confidence in the backup quarterback’s ability to step in for Taylor Kelly, but I’m not sure any could honestly say they expected the performance Bercovici put on against USC.

He kept that momentum going with a strong performance against Stanford and a full-blown quarterback controversy was born. But with all the opinions of the handling of Kelly and Bercovici, it’s impressive to think back at the perceived drop-off between the two quarterbacks back in August.

Most disappointing player: Marcus Ball

One of the reasons few believed Simone would be the starter is that so many thought he was just a placeholder for Ball. After injury robbed Ball of a starting role as a true freshman, the prevailing thought was that he would step back into that role when healthy after a redshirt season.

That didn’t happen and, with the emergence of Simone, Ball ended up struggling to find a permanent spot. Now entering his sophomore season, it’s hard to say whether Ball will fight for time as a linebacker or a safety, but he appears to be an early long shot to have extended play time in 2015.

Best player to exemplify "All In”: Nick Kelly

The junior took over for Kody Koebensky and played well all season, but it was the amount of time he played all season that was most commendable. Kelly racked up injuries and, while he was limited often in practice, he kept showing up ready to play on game day.

A lot of players played through injuries for the Sun Devils in 2014, but Kelly exemplified most what that grit really looks like.

Best player to exemplify "Left Lane Hammer Down”: D.J. Calhoun

Calhoun really has just one speed and that’s full speed. That got the true freshman in trouble a few times early in the year, and a starting role might have been too much, too soon; however, he shined in a rotational role.

With another offseason and more time to direct that fury in a more coherent play style, Calhoun should be a player that continues to make big plays for ASU moving forward.

Best assistant coach: Jackie Shipp

The only returning starter on the defensive line was Jaxon Hood and he missed a significant amount of time. Yet, it was the ASU front that wound up carrying the team on a run that put the team in national title contention in November.

A true Devil-backer player in the mold of Carl Bradford never emerged for the team, but the adjustment to use Demetrius Cherry as a full-time starter paid huge dividends for the defense and the growth of the defensive line as a unit was very impressive.

Play of the Year: Kalen Ballage’s 96-yard kick return

When Duke scored with five minutes remaining in the Sun Bowl, all eyes were on Taylor Kelly to lead the team down the field for a game-winning score. Instead Ballage left the ASU offense with four yards to gain to take the lead and his freshman counterpart did the rest.

It’s anyone’s guess what Kelly and the ASU offense would have done with a 75- or 80-yard field to work with, but Ballage effectively saved the Sun Devils from having to find out and made the single biggest play in a game that gave ASU double-digit wins for a second straight year.

Best moment of the Year: Pre-kickoff dance party vs. Notre Dame

A loss to Oregon State let all the air out of a balloon that ASU pumped up to exciting levels with a 55-31 victory over Notre Dame. After Kelly ran in for a 2-yard touchdown with less than a minute remaining, there was no question that the College Football Playoff was within reach for the Sun Devils.

The players knew it, the fans knew it and when “Turn Down For What?” started playing in Sun Devil Stadium before the ensuing kickoff, a full dance party broke out. Damarious Randall, James Johnson, Marcus Ball, Kweishi Brown, Armand Perry and Christian Sam all danced onto the field and there was an energy in the stadium that was something special to be experienced.

Worst moment of the Year: Taylor Kelly benched vs. Arizona

Not to say that it was unjustified or that Kelly’s play didn’t warrant a benching, it was just a sad moment, regardless. Kelly will go down as one of the best quarterbacks in the school’s history and with his team backed in a corner in the rivalry game of his senior year; the team captain had to watch from the sideline.

In hindsight it’s tough to say what things would have looked like if Kelly never broke his foot against Colorado and it’s tough to say what would have been if Bercovici was named starter much earlier. No matter what though, it was a sad way for the tremendous collegiate career of Kelly to come to an end.

Best quoted player: Jaxon Hood

The defensive tackle missed time early in the year and missed the entire end of the season, but during his limited time talking to the media, he was always good for an excellent quote or two.

Whether it was the team’s loss in the 2013 Pac-12 Championship being attributed to “hippity hopping around” or comparisons of beating Stanford in 2014 to NBA dynasties overcoming their predecessors, Hood is witty, quick and comical in front of microphones.

Redshirted player you look most forward to seeing in 2015: Ismael Murphy-Richardson

Ismael Murphy-Richardson was a late arriver to the ASU practice fields in 2014 so he never had much of a chance at contributing as a true freshman. It was also tough to take away too much from his performance in practices except for that fact that he went 100 percent all the time to the point that it was kind of funny to watch him battle senior leaders like Jamil Douglas in practice.

The athletic linebacker is still very thin, but given a year in ASU’s offseason conditioning program, I’m excited to see what kind of role he takes on in 2015 and if he can find extended playing time in the defense.

Describe ASU's 2014 season in 140 characters or less

ASU was an overachieving team in 2014 that succeeded with the guise of a national title contender, but just wasn’t quite there yet.

______________________________________________________________

Hod Rabino

Offensive MVP

The list of accolades for wide receiver Jaelen Strong is very lengthily, and I won’t bore anybody listing all of them. But here’s just one incredible stat to keep in mind: 62 of Strong’s 82 receptions, or 75.6 percent, went for either a first down or a touchdown. Therefore, he’s the obvious choice for this honor. For good or for bad, the passing game if not the entire ASU offense went as far as Strong would take it. The majority of his receptions resulted in first downs and if that isn’t the ultimate definition of a Most Valuable Player, I don’t what is. Aside from Terrell Suggs, we haven’t seen anyone this century who has dominated in an ASU uniform as much as Strong did. And much like T-Sizzle, he should be making some noise on Sundays as well.

Defensive MVP

Team Captain Laiu Moeakiola played in all 13 games, but three of them he didn’t finish due to injury. All three contests resulted in a loss. If that’s not the definition of a Most Valuable Player, I don’t know what is.

From his Spur position Moeakiola was the quarterback of this defense and one of the most irreplaceable players on the Sun Devil squad. His five sacks rank second on the team and his 10.5 tackles for loss place him 3rd. He was by far one of the biggest playmakers on the team and in essence was one of the players who in the beginning of the season “held the fort” until the rest of the defense improved its collective play.

Much like some of my other selection in this article, he truly makes you excited for 2015.

Team MVP

Jaelen Strong for the reasons mentioned above.

Best Newcomer

Even before his remarkable four-touchdown Sun Bowl MVP performance, running back Demario Richard was a clear choice for this award. Some thought that his fellow Kalen Ballage would be more of an impact player as a true freshman, but that never materialized as Richard became more and more a factor in this ASU offense.

Richard collected 478 rushing yards and lost only nine yards during his 84 rushing attempts the entire season. His low center of gravity build and feet that never stop moving making this very young player (turned 18 only on December 2nd, 2014) a challenge for defenders to tackle. When you take into account that Richard is still not physically mature as he could, nor has the level of game knowledge he will ultimately acquire, the future is indeed very bright for the Sun Devils’ youngest returning player.

Breakout Player

I interpret this award to be given to a player that wasn’t considered a newcomer in 2014, which is why my vote goes to Antonio Longino.

It’s pretty ironic how the junior went pretty quickly from not being the answer at Devil backer to truly finding his niche at WILL linebacker and be a significant part of the dramatic turnaround in the ASU defense. During 2013’s fall camp he was known as the only newcomer who was diligently taking notes during the first few practices then, and he has put those learning’s as well as his limited reserve duty to great use the next year.

Suffice to say that no one predicted Longino to at the beginning of the year to finish the season third on the team with 94 stops and it’s fitting that he saved his best for last with 17 total tackles in the Sun Bowl (probably should have been the Defensive MVP in that game).

There are a lot of reasons to get excited about a 2015 ASU defense which loses just two starters from this past season and Antonio Longino is certainly one reason for that sentiment.

Most surprising player

Granted, we were “warned” by Todd Graham prior to spring practice that safety Jordan Simone was going to be one player we should keep an eye on and Simone made sure to deliver on that promise in spades. He technically was a newcomer since he redshirted in 2013 following his transfer from Washington State, but on the field his leadership and football I.Q. resembled much more that of a seasoned veteran.

He and Damarious Randall were easily a Top 3 safety tandem in the Pac-12, and even though Simone missed the Arizona game at season end he was still second on the team with 100 tackles. His game knowledge along with his reckless abandonment play made him one of the Sun Devils’ best defenders and a viable cornerstone for the 2015 unit.

Most disappointing player

Running back Deantre Lewis fought so hard to come back from his random shooting incident four or so years ago and was perhaps the easiest player to root for ever since.

At times showed to be one of the most explosive players on offense and made the most out of his limited touches. Ultimately his ball security and run blocking issues saw him plummet down the depth chart and to top it off he acrimoniously left the team prior to the bowl game making his tenure in Tempe that much more disappointing.

Best player to exemplify "All In"

Don’t know how anyone on this team else other than D.J, Foster is more worthy for this award. Much like last year, the senior-to be lined up every week at running back and wide receiver and has excelled in both roles. He’s the only active Football Bowl Subdivision player to account for more than 1,500 career rushing yards and 1,500 career receiving yards, and this year alone he posted 1,769 all-purpose yards (none of them on special teams) and 12 touchdowns.

It’s easy to pout and worse than that let your production be affected when you’re asked to be effectively shuttled between different roles each game, and it was probably somewhat a blow to the ego when Foster, tabbed the leading running back coming into the season, was done the stretch yielding more and more carries to a true freshman in Demario Richard. But Foster didn’t let any of those factors affect him one iota and once again was one of the most dangerous players offensively on in the Pac-12.

Now next year as he concentrates on playing wide receiver and less running back he won’t be eligible for this award at all…and yes I’m joking.

Best player to exemplify "Left Lane Hammer Down"

There was no way I was going to leave ASU’s leading tackler in 2014, Damarious Randall, off of my list. And as it is, this award really fits his playing style anyway. 106 overall tackles which ranked him in the upper echelon nationally in the tackles per game category, 9.5 tackles for loss which admittingly surprised me when I looked it up working on this article. Three interceptions, nine pass breakups and 12 passes defended are also stats that many defensive backs would be envy of. So when you look all of those numbers, let alone watch him on the gridiron, you know that you had the ultimate combination of a fierce hitter and an agile cover player that perfectly defines this award.

Best assistant coach

Defensive line coach Jackie Shipp may have received just one vote last year in this category but this year that shouldn’t be the case. Now, you can make the argument that in 2013 he may have had a great base to start from with Will Sutton and hybrid defensive end Carl Bradford, although he did a formidable job coaching up Gannon Conway and Davon Coleman. But in 2014 he didn’t have that luxury.

Nonetheless, with a cast of characters that were vastly inexperienced and really a group that prompted much apprehension in the pre-season over the prospects of the entire defense, let alone changing to a more true 4-3 scheme after four games into the season, Shipp successfully had this front four playing at a high level and becoming the catalyst to the entire defensive turnaround, one that in essence is the basis for ASU’s 10-3 record.

Whether it’s considerably elevating the play of Marcus Hardison, successfully integrating Ami Latu into the group and turning the almost forgotten Demetrius Cherry into a significant contributor on the line, Shipp was able to hit all the right buttons and his demanding style of coaching brought the best out of his players.

Play of the Year

Yes, it’s hard not to go for the Jael Mary, but I will try my best…

Now some claim may claim my answer is still an obvious choice, I will go with Kweishi Brown’s interception in the end zone against Duke, with 45 seconds left in the Sun Bowl to preserve the win as well as notch an historic back to back 10th victory of the season.

Let’s face it, Brown was picked on all day by the Duke’s passing game and quite frankly lost, more battles that he won. But true to the mantra of a cornerback that through success or failure has to have a short memory, Brown put his struggles aside to make one of the tougher interceptions you will see showing great athleticism, concentration and hands. But again, not only a remarkable defensive play but one that carried a lot of meaning and really prevented 2014 from being a disappointing campaign.

Best moment of the Year

The 55-31 win over Notre Dame was truly the moment where ASU “arrived” on the national scene and it was also the first time it was mentioned as a possibility to be included in the College Football playoff’s final four. No matter how good or bad the Fighting Irish are in any given a year, a win over that team, let alone a three-touchdown plus victory will move the needle across the nation and have you become one of the headlines on every media outlet that covers college football.

The win really validated the remarkable turnaround of a team that many thought would go into the tank after demoralizing home loss to UCLA. The defensive performance was simply suffocating the visitors and the offense finally showed what it could like when it was playing up to its potential.

Notre Dame as you recall was trying hard to get out of this 2014 meeting and looking back you can argue that they had a strong premonition regarding this contest. Either that or just plain bad karma…

Worst moment of the Year

While the loss to UCLA was demoralizing, and the loss to Arizona was a huge opportunity missed to repeat as Pac-12 South champions, I too agree that the loss to Oregon State has to be the lowest point of the season.

I personally hate it when people or teams play into the hands of the critics rather than prove them wrong. In the week leading up to the Corvallis road trip we all heard ad nauseum about how much this contest was a trap game and how the Sun Devils were ripe for a letdown, and that’s exactly what happened in the 35-27 loss.

ASU went from being a serious contender for the College Football playoff final four and one that controlled its own destiny in terms of the Pac-12 South championship, to losing two of its last three regular season games and deflating a lot of excitement that existed in Tempe at the time.

Best quoted player

I don’t know what it is with ASU cornerbacks, and I mean this is every good way, but for the second year in a row players at this position have been a delight to interview. In 2013 it was Robert Nelson with Osahon Irabor not far behind, and this year it was Lloyd Carrington who I give this award to and Kweishi Brown may have been in stronger contention if we interviewed him as much as Carrington.

The senior to-be always gave honest and thoughtful quotes, and was never was at loss for words whether he was talking into a recorder or facing a camera. Look forward to many more good interviews from him in 2015.

Redshirted player you look most forward to seeing in 2015

I know that Ismael Murphy-Richardson is the popular pick here, but if Davon Durant hits the ground running I don’t know how much playing he may get. So my pick is running back De’Chavon “Gump” Hayes.

With Foster assuming more of a wide receiver duty in 2015, this is a golden opportunity for Hayes to assume the role of…Foster himself in his first three years at ASU. Furthermore, Hayes stands to immediately elevate ASU’s return game, one aspect that certainly begs improvement over last year. In the bowl practices Hayes has shown lived up to his elite speed and quickness accolades and should be a solid addition that could develop into a legitimate weapon on offense.

Describe ASU's 2014 season in 140 characters or less

A season that was dangerously close to going south ultimately became an historic one for a program that continues to be on the rise.


Sun Devil Source Top Stories

\r\n\r\n Best moment of the Year: Pre-kickoff dance party vs. Notre Dame

\r\n\r\nA loss to Oregon State let all the air out of a balloon that ASU pumped up to exciting levels with a 55-31 victory over Notre Dame. After Kelly ran in for a 2-yard touchdown with less than a minute remaining, there was no question that the College Football Playoff was within reach for the Sun Devils.

\r\n\r\nThe players knew it, the fans knew it and when “Turn Down For What?” started playing in Sun Devil Stadium before the ensuing kickoff, a full dance party broke out. Damarious Randall, James Johnson, Marcus Ball, Kweishi Brown, Armand Perry and Christian Sam all danced onto the field and there was an energy in the stadium that was something special to be experienced.

\r\n\r\n Worst moment of the Year: Taylor Kelly benched vs. Arizona

\r\n\r\nNot to say that it was unjustified or that Kelly’s play didn’t warrant a benching, it was just a sad moment, regardless. Kelly will go down as one of the best quarterbacks in the school’s history and with his team backed in a corner in the rivalry game of his senior year; the team captain had to watch from the sideline.

\r\n\r\nIn hindsight it’s tough to say what things would have looked like if Kelly never broke his foot against Colorado and it’s tough to say what would have been if Bercovici was named starter much earlier. No matter what though, it was a sad way for the tremendous collegiate career of Kelly to come to an end.

\r\n\r\n Best quoted player: Jaxon Hood

\r\n\r\nThe defensive tackle missed time early in the year and missed the entire end of the season, but during his limited time talking to the media, he was always good for an excellent quote or two.

\r\n\r\nWhether it was the team’s loss in the 2013 Pac-12 Championship being attributed to “hippity hopping around” or comparisons of beating Stanford in 2014 to NBA dynasties overcoming their predecessors, Hood is witty, quick and comical in front of microphones.

\r\n\r\n Redshirted player you look most forward to seeing in 2015: Ismael Murphy-Richardson

\r\n\r\nIsmael Murphy-Richardson was a late arriver to the ASU practice fields in 2014 so he never had much of a chance at contributing as a true freshman. It was also tough to take away too much from his performance in practices except for that fact that he went 100 percent all the time to the point that it was kind of funny to watch him battle senior leaders like Jamil Douglas in practice.

\r\n\r\nThe athletic linebacker is still very thin, but given a year in ASU’s offseason conditioning program, I’m excited to see what kind of role he takes on in 2015 and if he can find extended playing time in the defense.

\r\n\r\n Describe ASU's 2014 season in 140 characters or less

\r\n\r\nASU was an overachieving team in 2014 that succeeded with the guise of a national title contender, but just wasn’t quite there yet.

\r\n______________________________________________________________

\r\n\r\n Hod Rabino

\r\n Offensive MVP

\r\nThe list of accolades for wide receiver Jaelen Strong is very lengthily, and I won’t bore anybody listing all of them. But here’s just one incredible stat to keep in mind: 62 of Strong’s 82 receptions, or 75.6 percent, went for either a first down or a touchdown. Therefore, he’s the obvious choice for this honor. For good or for bad, the passing game if not the entire ASU offense went as far as Strong would take it. The majority of his receptions resulted in first downs and if that isn’t the ultimate definition of a Most Valuable Player, I don’t what is. Aside from Terrell Suggs, we haven’t seen anyone this century who has dominated in an ASU uniform as much as Strong did. And much like T-Sizzle, he should be making some noise on Sundays as well.

\r\n\r\n Defensive MVP

\r\n\r\nTeam Captain Laiu Moeakiola played in all 13 games, but three of them he didn’t finish due to injury. All three contests resulted in a loss. If that’s not the definition of a Most Valuable Player, I don’t know what is.

\r\n\r\nFrom his Spur position Moeakiola was the quarterback of this defense and one of the most irreplaceable players on the Sun Devil squad. His five sacks rank second on the team and his 10.5 tackles for loss place him 3rd. He was by far one of the biggest playmakers on the team and in essence was one of the players who in the beginning of the season “held the fort” until the rest of the defense improved its collective play.

\r\n\r\nMuch like some of my other selection in this article, he truly makes you excited for 2015.

\r\n\r\n\r\n Team MVP

\r\n\r\nJaelen Strong for the reasons mentioned above.

\r\n\r\n\r\n Best Newcomer

\r\n\r\nEven before his remarkable four-touchdown Sun Bowl MVP performance, running back Demario Richard was a clear choice for this award. Some thought that his fellow Kalen Ballage would be more of an impact player as a true freshman, but that never materialized as Richard became more and more a factor in this ASU offense.

\r\n\r\nRichard collected 478 rushing yards and lost only nine yards during his 84 rushing attempts the entire season. His low center of gravity build and feet that never stop moving making this very young player (turned 18 only on December 2nd, 2014) a challenge for defenders to tackle. When you take into account that Richard is still not physically mature as he could, nor has the level of game knowledge he will ultimately acquire, the future is indeed very bright for the Sun Devils’ youngest returning player.

\r\n\r\n Breakout Player

\r\n\r\nI interpret this award to be given to a player that wasn’t considered a newcomer in 2014, which is why my vote goes to Antonio Longino.

\r\n\r\nIt’s pretty ironic how the junior went pretty quickly from not being the answer at Devil backer to truly finding his niche at WILL linebacker and be a significant part of the dramatic turnaround in the ASU defense. During 2013’s fall camp he was known as the only newcomer who was diligently taking notes during the first few practices then, and he has put those learning’s as well as his limited reserve duty to great use the next year.

\r\n\r\nSuffice to say that no one predicted Longino to at the beginning of the year to finish the season third on the team with 94 stops and it’s fitting that he saved his best for last with 17 total tackles in the Sun Bowl (probably should have been the Defensive MVP in that game).

\r\n\r\nThere are a lot of reasons to get excited about a 2015 ASU defense which loses just two starters from this past season and Antonio Longino is certainly one reason for that sentiment.

\r\n\r\n Most surprising player

\r\n\r\nGranted, we were “warned” by Todd Graham prior to spring practice that safety Jordan Simone was going to be one player we should keep an eye on and Simone made sure to deliver on that promise in spades. He technically was a newcomer since he redshirted in 2013 following his transfer from Washington State, but on the field his leadership and football I.Q. resembled much more that of a seasoned veteran.

\r\n\r\nHe and Damarious Randall were easily a Top 3 safety tandem in the Pac-12, and even though Simone missed the Arizona game at season end he was still second on the team with 100 tackles. His game knowledge along with his reckless abandonment play made him one of the Sun Devils’ best defenders and a viable cornerstone for the 2015 unit.

\r\n\r\n Most disappointing player

\r\n\r\nRunning back Deantre Lewis fought so hard to come back from his random shooting incident four or so years ago and was perhaps the easiest player to root for ever since.

\r\n\r\nAt times showed to be one of the most explosive players on offense and made the most out of his limited touches. Ultimately his ball security and run blocking issues saw him plummet down the depth chart and to top it off he acrimoniously left the team prior to the bowl game making his tenure in Tempe that much more disappointing.

\r\n\r\n Best player to exemplify \"All In\"

\r\n\r\nDon’t know how anyone on this team else other than D.J, Foster is more worthy for this award. Much like last year, the senior-to be lined up every week at running back and wide receiver and has excelled in both roles. He’s the only active Football Bowl Subdivision player to account for more than 1,500 career rushing yards and 1,500 career receiving yards, and this year alone he posted 1,769 all-purpose yards (none of them on special teams) and 12 touchdowns.

\r\n\r\nIt’s easy to pout and worse than that let your production be affected when you’re asked to be effectively shuttled between different roles each game, and it was probably somewhat a blow to the ego when Foster, tabbed the leading running back coming into the season, was done the stretch yielding more and more carries to a true freshman in Demario Richard. But Foster didn’t let any of those factors affect him one iota and once again was one of the most dangerous players offensively on in the Pac-12.

\r\n\r\nNow next year as he concentrates on playing wide receiver and less running back he won’t be eligible for this award at all…and yes I’m joking.

\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\n Best player to exemplify \"Left Lane Hammer Down\"

\r\n\r\nThere was no way I was going to leave ASU’s leading tackler in 2014, Damarious Randall, off of my list. And as it is, this award really fits his playing style anyway. 106 overall tackles which ranked him in the upper echelon nationally in the tackles per game category, 9.5 tackles for loss which admittingly surprised me when I looked it up working on this article. Three interceptions, nine pass breakups and 12 passes defended are also stats that many defensive backs would be envy of. So when you look all of those numbers, let alone watch him on the gridiron, you know that you had the ultimate combination of a fierce hitter and an agile cover player that perfectly defines this award.

\r\n\r\n Best assistant coach

\r\n\r\nDefensive line coach Jackie Shipp may have received just one vote last year in this category but this year that shouldn’t be the case. Now, you can make the argument that in 2013 he may have had a great base to start from with Will Sutton and hybrid defensive end Carl Bradford, although he did a formidable job coaching up Gannon Conway and Davon Coleman. But in 2014 he didn’t have that luxury.

\r\n\r\nNonetheless, with a cast of characters that were vastly inexperienced and really a group that prompted much apprehension in the pre-season over the prospects of the entire defense, let alone changing to a more true 4-3 scheme after four games into the season, Shipp successfully had this front four playing at a high level and becoming the catalyst to the entire defensive turnaround, one that in essence is the basis for ASU’s 10-3 record.

\r\n\r\nWhether it’s considerably elevating the play of Marcus Hardison, successfully integrating Ami Latu into the group and turning the almost forgotten Demetrius Cherry into a significant contributor on the line, Shipp was able to hit all the right buttons and his demanding style of coaching brought the best out of his players.

\r\n\r\n Play of the Year

\r\n\r\nYes, it’s hard not to go for the Jael Mary, but I will try my best…

\r\n\r\nNow some claim may claim my answer is still an obvious choice, I will go with Kweishi Brown’s interception in the end zone against Duke, with 45 seconds left in the Sun Bowl to preserve the win as well as notch an historic back to back 10th victory of the season.

\r\n\r\nLet’s face it, Brown was picked on all day by the Duke’s passing game and quite frankly lost, more battles that he won. But true to the mantra of a cornerback that through success or failure has to have a short memory, Brown put his struggles aside to make one of the tougher interceptions you will see showing great athleticism, concentration and hands. But again, not only a remarkable defensive play but one that carried a lot of meaning and really prevented 2014 from being a disappointing campaign.

\r\n\r\n

\r\n\r\n Best moment of the Year

\r\n\r\nThe 55-31 win over Notre Dame was truly the moment where ASU “arrived” on the national scene and it was also the first time it was mentioned as a possibility to be included in the College Football playoff’s final four. No matter how good or bad the Fighting Irish are in any given a year, a win over that team, let alone a three-touchdown plus victory will move the needle across the nation and have you become one of the headlines on every media outlet that covers college football.

\r\n\r\nThe win really validated the remarkable turnaround of a team that many thought would go into the tank after demoralizing home loss to UCLA. The defensive performance was simply suffocating the visitors and the offense finally showed what it could like when it was playing up to its potential.

\r\n\r\nNotre Dame as you recall was trying hard to get out of this 2014 meeting and looking back you can argue that they had a strong premonition regarding this contest. Either that or just plain bad karma…

\r\n\r\n Worst moment of the Year

\r\n\r\nWhile the loss to UCLA was demoralizing, and the loss to Arizona was a huge opportunity missed to repeat as Pac-12 South champions, I too agree that the loss to Oregon State has to be the lowest point of the season.

\r\n\r\nI personally hate it when people or teams play into the hands of the critics rather than prove them wrong. In the week leading up to the Corvallis road trip we all heard ad nauseum about how much this contest was a trap game and how the Sun Devils were ripe for a letdown, and that’s exactly what happened in the 35-27 loss.

\r\n\r\nASU went from being a serious contender for the College Football playoff final four and one that controlled its own destiny in terms of the Pac-12 South championship, to losing two of its last three regular season games and deflating a lot of excitement that existed in Tempe at the time.

\r\n\r\n Best quoted player

\r\n\r\nI don’t know what it is with ASU cornerbacks, and I mean this is every good way, but for the second year in a row players at this position have been a delight to interview. In 2013 it was Robert Nelson with Osahon Irabor not far behind, and this year it was Lloyd Carrington who I give this award to and Kweishi Brown may have been in stronger contention if we interviewed him as much as Carrington.

\r\n\r\nThe senior to-be always gave honest and thoughtful quotes, and was never was at loss for words whether he was talking into a recorder or facing a camera. Look forward to many more good interviews from him in 2015.

\r\n\r\n Redshirted player you look most forward to seeing in 2015

\r\n\r\nI know that Ismael Murphy-Richardson is the popular pick here, but if Davon Durant hits the ground running I don’t know how much playing he may get. So my pick is running back De’Chavon “Gump” Hayes.

\r\n\r\nWith Foster assuming more of a wide receiver duty in 2015, this is a golden opportunity for Hayes to assume the role of…Foster himself in his first three years at ASU. Furthermore, Hayes stands to immediately elevate ASU’s return game, one aspect that certainly begs improvement over last year. In the bowl practices Hayes has shown lived up to his elite speed and quickness accolades and should be a solid addition that could develop into a legitimate weapon on offense.

\r\n\r\n Describe ASU's 2014 season in 140 characters or less

\r\nA season that was dangerously close to going south ultimately became an historic one for a program that continues to be on the rise.

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While other members of the Arizona State defense may have put up better statistics in 2014, it’s tough to argue against the impact that Moeakiola had on the unit over the course of the season. Sure, the redshirt sophomore may have totaled 72 tackles, 10.5 tackles for a loss and five sacks on the year, but his greatest contribution may have been his calming presence.

It’s no secret that the defense performed at a higher level when the talented SPUR linebacker was on the field. Moeakiola was the vocal leader of the group; the quarterback of the front seven who communicated assignments to his teammates which is why Coach Graham made him a team captain.

Perhaps the best example of his value came at the team’s expense late in the season when Moeakiola, who battled shoulder issues throughout the year, was forced to miss significant time against Oregon State and Arizona (he did not finish either game). Arizona State gave up a number of big plays in both games, including 14 quick points to start the second half against Arizona, which resulted in losses for the Sun Devils. In fact, if you include the UCLA game, ASU went 0-3 in 2014 in games that Moeakiola was unable to finish due to injury.

This can go one of two ways but for me, the 2014 Offensive MVP was D.J. Foster. Not only did the junior running back rush for 1,081 yards and nine touchdowns, but he also caught 62 passes for 688 yards and another three scores, demonstrating his versatility in the offense. Foster led the team with 1,769 all-purpose yards and was the only player in the nation with more than 1,000 receiving yards and 600 or more rushing yards on the year.

Foster’s 62 receptions in 2014 rank as the 10th most in school history, a remarkable feat considering his split duties in the backfield and the slot wide receiver position. The talented playmaker also caught 63 passes in 2013, making him just the third player at ASU to ever record 60-plus receptions in consecutive seasons.

And let’s not forget that Foster also gave Sun Devil fans the biggest #BOOM of the offseason when he announced last week he’ll be coming back for his senior season.

No surprise here considering the writing was on the wall in Fall Camp. It was only going to be a matter time before Demario Richard became the man at running back for ASU. In 12 games, the true freshman rushed for 478 yards and four touchdowns and his 5.69 yards per carry were tops on the team (Sorry, Cam Smith, but you and your 8.33 YPC on just three carries don’t count).

Richard proved to also be a valuable weapon in the passing game, catching 14 passes for 156 yards and four more touchdowns in 2014.

The 5-10, 210 pound back had a breakout game against Notre Dame with three catches for 51 yards and touchdown to go along with 50 yards rushing and another score in the win. Richard demonstrated that he’s more than capable of handling the load at running back heading onto next year with his four- touchdown Sun Bowl performance while capturing the game’s Offensive MVP award.

It might seem like an odd pick considering he only played significant minutes in three games, but yeah, I’m gonna go there. The redshirt junior arrived at ASU in 2011 and prior to this season, I don’t think anyone knew for sure what the Sun Devils had in Mike Bercovici. We knew about the arm strength and the gunslinger mentality, but except for a few garbage time appearances, the verdict was still out on him.

Not anymore though.

Bercovici filled in admirably for the injured Taylor Kelly, guiding the Sun Devils to two wins over conference foes and providing Sun Devil fans with the most memorable play of the year (SPOILER ALERT!).

While his starter debut was rocky (42-68 for 488 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions), Bercovici was able to rebound nicely, becoming the first player ever to throw for five touchdowns against USC and his 510 passing yards were the second-most ever against the Trojans.

With Bercovici set to become the starting quarterback next season, 2015 looks very promising for the Sun Devils.

Not many Sun Devil fans can say they truly expected Jordan Simone, a former walk-on who didn’t earn a scholarship until the week before the season started, to be a significant contributor on defense in 2014. Heck, most (myself included) thought he was just keeping the seat warm for Marcus Ball or James Johnson during spring and fall camp before it became a little more clear that he indeed was going to be in the rotation at safety, if not the starter.

In the end, Simone finished the year second on the team in tackles with 100 to go along with 4.5 tackles for a loss, one sack, two interceptions and one fumble recovery. The junior logged a career-high 20 tackles against USC and recorded five games with 10 or more tackles.

Simone proved to be a sure-tackler in the Sun Devil secondary and his experience and leadership heading into 2015 is invaluable considering the team will be replacing its other starting safety in Damarious Randall.

I hate to do it after everything he accomplished over the last three years, but there’s no way around it. As a senior and three year starter, many expected Taylor Kelly to take that next step and elevate the Sun Devils in 2014. Instead, he regressed and never quite looked like himself.

Kelly completed 165-278 pass attempts for 2,114 yards, 22 touchdowns and just five interceptions on the year. While most of his passing numbers are affected by the time he missed due to injury, the most alarming thing to me was his passing percentage. In 2012, Kelly completed 67.1% of his passes. Last year it dipped to 62.4%. However, in 2014 Kelly completed a paltry 59.4% of his passes. Given the weapons ASU had on offense, that number is shockingly low for an experienced quarterback like Kelly.

Thankfully, he went out a winner looking more like the TK Sun Devils fans came to know over the last couple of seasons in the team’s Sun Bowl win, completing 24-34 passes for 240 yards and two touchdowns. Despite his less than stellar senior campaign though, Kelly deserves to be remembered for his full body of work at ASU. He helped lay the foundation for what’s been a spirited revival of sorts for Arizona State football. Sun Devil fans everywhere should applaud the young man’s effort and his contribution to the program.

Going into 2014, it was anybody’s guess what to expect from the defensive line. The unit was replacing all four starters from a year ago, including Will Sutton and Carl Bradford, and definitely looked like it could be the team’s weak link. Instead, despite lacking a true Devil backer and starting a true freshman at defensive tackle, the group helped set the tone for a Sun Devil defense that surpassed most everyone’s expectations.

The best example of the defensive line’s turnaround was senior DE Marcus Hardison, who after recording just five tackles in 2013, tallied 53 tackles, 15 tackles for a loss, 10 sacks and two interceptions on the year.

The defense’s saving grace may have been the decision to scrap the Devil backer position after ASU’s loss to UCLA, opting for a more traditional 4-3 look while rotating between the “jumbo” and “small” defensive lines. With everyone except for Hardison back next year, the defensive line should be an area of strength for the Sun Devils in 2015.

I’m sorry but it is, even if we’ve been encouraged (by Hod) to pick something else that isn’t so predictable. But if we’re going to pick a second best play of the year, I’ll take Kweishi Brown’s game-saving interception against Duke in the Sun Bowl. Not only did it preserve the win and give ASU its first back-to-back 10 win seasons since the 1970’s, but it also provides the Sun Devils (and their fans) a great deal of momentum heading into the offseason.

We all know what it felt like in 2013, watching ASU lose to Texas Tech at the Holiday Bowl. It wasn’t fun. It left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. ASU came dangerously close to repeating that same disaster until Brown came up with his second forced turnover of the game. Hopefully the momentum can help the staff land a couple of highly rated recruits before signing day and then the team can start Spring Camp with confidence and its eyes set squarely on taking back the Pac-12 South.

Watching it is one thing. Being on the sidelines is another. The memory of a silenced Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum will be remembered forever. The #JaelMary was thrilling and watching the team celebrate on the field and in the locker room afterwards made it truly special.

Shoutout to Adam and Ross (gone but not forgotten) for being there to also cover the game.

Some might say the loss to Arizona. Personally, I never saw ASU beating them, even before the season started. But Oregon State? What the heck was that!?!

I know Corvallis can be a tricky place to play, especially in November, but the Beavers were not good in 2014. They finished the season 5-7 and their only other conference win was over Colorado. I mean, c’mon! ASU was ranked sixth in the nation and had forced its way into the college football playoff discussion after its win over Notre Dame. The Sun Devils had absolutely no business losing that game.

They gave up a couple big scoring plays early on (not surprising since they practiced all week without pads…sigh) only to come back, claim a double-digit lead just to lose in the end, sealed with a Taylor Kelly pick six.

I’m sick (again).

The Arizona disaster wouldn’t have even mattered had ASU just beaten Oregon State. That was truly disappointing.

I mean, I guess. I’ll say this, 2014 made me appreciate guys like Alden Darby, Carl Bradford, Osahon Irabor, Chris Coyle and even Will Sutton a bit more. Those interviews were fun. Even the Marcus Hardison 2013 edition was more entertaining than Marcus Hardison this year. The guys this season were, for the most part, so young and inexperienced that you didn’t really know what to expect heading into an interview.

I guess Demario Richard was usually fun. The kid’s got a ton of confidence and doesn’t care much for USC or Lane Kiffin.

But yeah, Bercovici, as we all know, is a really intelligent guy who gives solid responses and isn’t afraid to say what he feels, which I feel like sometimes other players don’t always do. NO NAMES!

They redshirted players in 2014? Who??

Just kidding.

Hayes was supposed to be a special teams, um, specialist in 2014. (Side note: Wouldn’t that have been a nice weapon to have had?) Unfortunately, academics delayed his arrival, ultimately forcing him to redshirt. The media didn’t get to see much of him in practice during the season, but boy did he shine in some of those bowl game prep practice sessions. Hayes is definitely a big play threat no matter where he lines up on the field and he has the confidence to complement his play. Plus, he said in an interview with us that he plans to take at least five kickoffs/punts to the house in 2015, so who wouldn’t be excited for that, right?

Good but not great. ASU exceeded expectations but missed a golden opportunity. #UnfinishedBusiness #BringOnBerco

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Jaelen Strong

Time will tell how Strong is remembered at his position by Sun Devil fans when compared to College Football Hall of Fame member John Jefferson, former conference receptions leader Derek Hagan and others, but the two-year superstar may very well be the most talented wide receiver ever to play for Arizona State. That nearly unmatched skill set came in handy in both routine and miraculous ways in 2014, as he brought dynamic consistency to the Arizona State offense. An All-American by numerous publications, Strong made many plays that 99.9% of college football players simply cannot, more than a few of which were for integral gains or crucial touchdowns. Without a doubt, Strong’s early departure to the NFL leaves the most gaping hole for ASU to fill heading into 2015.

Marcus Hardison

Hardison came to ASU as one of the premier junior college transfers for the 2013 class but was merely a role player his first year, placing tremendous urgency on improvement for his senior season in 2014. As the year progressed, Hardison’s abilities and contributions accelerated mightily as he because a freakish defensive threat in his ability to disrupt quarterbacks in a variety of ways. Ultimately, he was the team leader with 10.0 sacks and was disruptive in forcing quarterback pressure and turnovers and earned Honorable Mention All-Pac-12 recognition at the conclusion of the season.

D.J. Foster

The “Hometown Hero” moniker fits Foster perfectly and his heroics and overall presence on the team have him on the verge of recognition among the greatest all-purpose athletes ever to play for Arizona State. As versatile an athlete as has ever suited up for the Sun Devils, though Foster didn’t keep his intergalactic rushing numbers he started the season with, he remained a force and surpassed the 1,000-yard rushing mark on the year. In addition to his rushing prowess, he remained a force as a pass-catcher as he crept his way into the top-five on ASU’s all-time receptions list. Recently, Foster cemented his role as the face of the program as he announced his decision to return for his senior season, referencing the desire to finish his studies and finish what he started in terms of championship aspirations.

Demario Richard

A four-star prospect coming out of high school last year, Richard came to ASU with high expectations and was able to show major promise during his rookie season. Much like his fellow Palmdale (Calif.) High School graduate and Sun Devil legend Derek Hagan did in 2002, Richard made his true freshman season in 2014 a memorable one as the running back rushed for 478 yards with four touchdowns at an impressive clip of 5.7 yards per carry while adding 156 receiving yards and another four scores. In all, Richard’s eight total touchdowns ranked third on the team behind superstars D.J. Foster and Jaelen Strong.

Regularly showing a bullish, resilient running style and the versatility to rush and receive the ball with equal potency, Richard’s four-touchdown effort in ASU’s Sun Bowl victory over Duke gives him massive momentum heading into his sophomore season in which he is likely to take on an even greater role with D.J. Foster likely to see more action as a receiver.

Mike Bercovici

Though the sample size is relatively small with only three starts, Bercovici created a level of appeal in a few short weeks that resonated the entire season as many believed he should have remained starting quarterback even when fifth-year senior Taylor Kelly returned from an early-season injury. Berco’s road to the starting lineup was a long and tumultuous one as the fourth-year junior never saw substantial game action before his first start against UCLA in September.

Though that game was one of the most forgettable efforts of Todd Graham’s tenure in Tempe, the next game Bercovici helped create one of the most unforgettable memories in Sun Devil history with his “Jael Mary” game-winning touchdown heave to Jaelen Strong before helping to orchestrate ASU’s first win over Stanford since 2008. Using his leadership, confidence and fearlessness in the pocket, in a short period of time Bercovici made an indelible mark on the 2014 season and creates major confidence for the quarterback position heading into 2015.

Jordan Simone

Twelve months ago, if you asked 100 Sun Devil fans who Jordan Simone is, it would be a shock if a single one even knew he was a member of the Arizona State football team. In the spring, Simone elevated to a first-team position at safety but many felt that he was just a placeholder until the highly acclaimed Marcus Ball returned to full health. Similar to Gannon Conway in 2013, Simone not only refused to relinquish his first-string role, but was placed on scholarship shortly before the season started and went on to become one of ASU’s most tenacious and reliable defenders. Solid in the first few games of the year, Simone burst on the scene with a 20-tackle effort in ASU’s #JaelMary victory over USC and his value was also later felt in his absence when the Sun Devils struggled defensively against Arizona. In all, the former Washington State transfer earned Honorable Mention All-Pac-12 accolades after collecting 100 tackles and two interceptions. Entering 2015, the former walk-on figures to be a key team leader, potential team captain and figures to rank fourth in the Pac-12 in tackles among returning players behind Arizona’s Scooby Wright, Utah’s Jared Norris and Stanford’s Blake Martinez.

Taylor Kelly

The senior season and overall legacy of Taylor Kelly are topics that are difficult to evaluate and his place in Sun Devil history is something already hotly debated by Arizona State fans. A Second-Team All-Pac-12 honors recipient after guiding Arizona State to the Pac-12 championship game in 2013, Kelly was expected to remain one of the league’s premier quarterbacks as a fifth-year senior in 2014.

In the first three games of the season, Kelly struggled to find his typical form and against Colorado in game three he suffered a foot injury that would cause him to miss action against UCLA, USC and Stanford. In Kelly’s place, Mike Bercovici put up video game type statistics and helped engineer two significant wins, causing a tremendous quarterback controversy – that is, just about everywhere beside within the Sun Devil football program as head coach Todd Graham insisted Kelly was and would remain the starter.

Kelly’s play never truly returned to his 2013 form, but he was still able to help keep ASU at a successful level with close wins over Washington and Utah and a marquee program victory over Notre Dame. Despite the victories, however, Kelly showed to be more prone to mistakes than usual and was not the typical running threat he is known to be due to the lingering impact of the injury. The Taylor Kelly that absolutely torched teams such as Washington, Washington State and Arizona in 2013 seemed to be far away from the player occupying the No. 10 jersey in 2014. These complications surfaced in an irreparable fashion in gut-wrenching losses at Oregon State and Arizona – the latter prompting Graham to insert Bercovici back into the lineup late in the game.

Overall, by the standards of many other programs and many other players, Kelly’s senior season would not be considered a major disappointment; however, Kelly’s health and performance were at levels noticeably below his personal par and the impact was most tangibly felt in ASU’s win-loss record.

D.J. Foster

Every so often a player comes along that does everything for the team – no matter the request – in a fashion that exceeds yet motivates those around him. Under Dirk Koetter and Dennis Erickson this was the calling card of Rudy Burgess, and Foster has etched his way in a similar do-it-all fashion under Todd Graham. One of the nation’s most versatile athletes on the field and a model representative of Arizona State and Sun Devil football, Foster’s commitment has never been in question and recently amplified to even greater heights with his noble reasoning for returning for his senior season.

Jamil Douglas

Not many players on the team can hammer the weight room like Douglas, one of the absolute strongest players on the entire squad. Far from just a workout warrior, Douglas was asked to move to left tackle for his senior season after spending his entire career at guard but answered the call in perfect form as he was voted a First-Team All-Pac-12 member in 2014.

Additionally, Douglas breaks the mold of the meathead, hog-molly offensive lineman as he was named a First-Team Pac-12 All-Academic selection as a senior after earning Honorable Mention accolades the year before. A true team leader with an NFL future, Douglas capped his Sun Devil career dropping the hammer on the weights, the books and attacking defenders.

Jackie Shipp

Entering the 2014 season, the biggest talking point surrounding ASU’s potential was how the defense would perform after replacing nine starters from the previous season. In the early stages of the season, that issue seemed to be a major liability as the Devils simply could not create a defensive identity or forge many playmakers on defense – especially up front along the line.

After the first month or so of the season, however, things began to click, and as the season progressed the defensive line – individually and collectively – made tremendous advancements. Marcus Hardison went from a player many were ready to label a high-profile recruiting bust to a double-figure sack contributor, Demetrius Cherry went from a virtual nobody to a solid starter and others such as Mo and Viliami Latu made noteworthy contributions despite limited expectations to start the year.

Furthermore, this was all done with sporadic availability of the most veteran defensive lineman, Jaxon Hood, who missed the majority of the final portion of the season. Though players at other positions surely helped, the improvement of Shipp’s linemen helped enable ASU to once again rank in the nation’s top-10 in both sacks and tackles-for-loss – two areas that were major deficiencies early in the season.

If we’re in obvious agreement that the #JaelMary is the clear winner and the conversation is about the silver medal recipient, my choice goes to a play that occurred at a time when Sun Devil fans felt a shot at greatness slipping through their collective fingers. After one of the most incredible halves of football played in Sun Devil Stadium in recent memory, ASU allowed Notre Dame to nearly erase a 28-point Sun Devil lead in the second half as the Fighting Irish pulled within three as the score stood at 34-31 with under seven minutes left to play.

On the ensuing possession, ASU gained some major breathing room with a Demario Richard touchdown to extend the lead to 10, but the resurrected Notre Dame offense got right back to work and had the ball near midfield before a pass bobbled by Irish receiver Corey Robinson was snatched by ASU cornerback Lloyd Carrington and taken 58 yards for a score that sent Sun Devil Stadium into a frenzy and polished off the Irish once and for all.

For a brief moment in early November, it appeared as though Arizona State was steamrolling its way to the top of the college football world. A top-10 team and key contender for the College Football Playoff, the Sun Devils were poised to watch the final moments unravel with an imminent win over the most storied college athletics program in history, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish – also a top-10 team at the time. The certainty of victory as ASU held a 55-31 edge had the stadium in party mode and that jubilation was put into action with the Sun Devil kickoff team celebrating to the tune of “Turn Down For What”, making Sun Devil Stadium follow suit with rejoice.

Though my typical taste might have been some celebratory George Strait or Garth Brooks, I can tip my cap to the fun that was enjoyed in those final victorious minutes.

Many thought ASU’s trip to Corvallis, Ore., was an upset waiting to happen – but this year’s team seemed to be one capable of withstanding such bad spirits. After relinquishing a first half lead, ASU found itself down a point to the Oregon State Beavers with just under three minutes to play.

Despite the frustration of a top-10 Sun Devil squad squandering its lead, hopes were that Taylor Kelly could resurrect fans’ faith in him with a game-winning drive to allow ASU maintain in the thick of the College Football Playoff hunt. This heartwarming idea quickly turned to heartbreak as a second down pass was intercepted by OSU’s Michael Doctor and run back 35 yards for a touchdown, creating the game’s final margin of victory for the Beavers at 35-27 and effectively squashing Arizona State’s championship aspirations.

Damarious Randall

Whether in front of a crowd or in the virtual arena of Twitter, Randall has provided some memorable, insightful and amusing lines befitting an ultra-confident defensive back. On the field, his play spoke for itself as the First-Team All-Pac-12 honors recipient was ASU’s leading tackler on the year.

De’Chavon “Gump” Hayes

If not for a frustrating academic clearance process, Hayes could have been a key contributor for ASU this season with his top-notch speed as with the exception of Kalen Ballage’s massive kick return near the end of the Sun Bowl, special teams returns were a total non-factor for the Sun Devils. Also a talented rusher who can handle the ball in a number of ways, after redshirting in 2014, Hayes should be a high-caliber option in multiple roles on offense and special teams.

#UnfinishedBusiness still unfinished. Can Berco bring #NC16?

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There are several players that could have earned this award. Senior Taylor Kelly had a great season statically as well as Jaelen Strong. Mike Bercovici for coming in and saving the middle of the season. Zane Gonzalez for leading the team in scoring (118 points) going 22-27 on field goal attempts. Yet award in my book goes to junior Running Back/Receiver D.J. Foster. Every game this guy put it on the opponents. Sometimes it seemed like quiet production yet looking at the body of work here at the end of the season you have to be impressed. 136 yards per game. 72 points scored. The kind of character you love to see succeed; D.J. Foster earns my offensive MVP vote.

On the defensive side of the ball we saw some serious production in terms of who could have won this award. Great candidates in Jordan Simone, Marcus Hardison, Laiu Moeakiola and Salamo Fiso. My vote goes to senior Damarious Randall. Leading the team with 106 tackles, 9.5 for loss, one sack, three interceptions 12 pass defenses, two forced fumbles with one recovery. Those are dominating in any scheme. Randall came to play every game and his production and the Sun Devils results because of it make him my defensive MVP.

Much like the two awards above, the team MVP award could go to several key contributors on this team. Yet my vote here is going to Jaelen Strong. The rock on this offense that you knew was going to perform no matter what the case was. A guy that helped put ASU on the map this season and someone who will go down as one of the greatest Sun Devils to play in the Maroon and Gold. Jaelen was a work horse every week and because of that I see him as the team’s MVP. We will miss you in your senior season Jaelen. go make us proud!

As the season rolled along I think this picture became a lot cleaner as freshman running back Demario Richard carved his way to a productive campaign. 634 total yards and fourth on the team in scoring with 48 points. I am sure I speak for many when we say we can’t wait to see this talented back take over the main role in the backfield.

Without a doubt this one is easy for me. The learning curve was a struggle last season while there had been a lot expectations placed on this player coming into ASU. Yet he took advantage of his senior year and made a huge impact on defense. Marcus Hardison wins my breakout player award for his 10 sack season. He also had two interceptions, four passes defended and 15 TFLs. A breakout season in every fashion as he dominated at times up front. Another senior that will be dearly missed next year. Great job Hardison on a fantastic season.

I chose Jordan Simone for this award. Before the season I don’t think there were many of us that thought this walk on was going to make the impact he did. Sure enough, he over achieved in every way and really helped the back end of the Sun Devil defense. Second on the team in tackles with 100, two interceptions, two recovered fumbles, one forced and one sack. I was surprised and I am sure many of you were as well to watch this guy develop this season. Great job Simone!

Hard to say this because overall he really did help the Devils succeed both on and off the field, yet I chose De’Marieya Nelson as the most disappointing player this season. Not because he didn’t do well but mostly because of what he didn’t do. Like many, I was expecting huge things from this senior and the production just wasn’t there. Whether it be the shuffling of positions or lack of focus, I just didn’t see the guy he was capable of being.

I am giving this award to Laiu Moeakiola. A player that gave it his all this whole season battling through a shoulder injury that wanted to keep him off the field. Yet each week he kept putting on the pads and working his butt off to stay out there and help the team win. When he was sidelined, the defense hurt because of it and you have to thank him for all the efforts he put in to play through his injuries and help this team. That is “All In” in my eyes!

I am basing this award on his career under Coach Graham and staff which the numbers speak for themselves here. Senior Quarterback Taylor Kelly was the main piece to the Sun Devils potent offense. He goes down in the records books as one of the best Sun Devils to play and his approach to leading this offense was impressive to watch through these three years. The hammer was always down with Kelly and he competed to the best of his ability which I appreciate as a fan. Thank you Taylor for lots of fireworks and memories that won’t be forgotten. A true Sun Devil.

I’d like to give this award to Coach Bo Graham. Many thought the decision a few years ago to move Coach Bo Graham to running backs coach was a mistake. However, if you have followed the growth of this position group and developments in the recruiting world off the field, you will see Bo’s successes. Hearing lots of great things about his relationship with his players and you have to love the success this position group has had both on and off the field.

I know almost all of Sun Devil nation would vote for the “Jael Mary” to go down as the play of the year for them. However the play I chose was Zane Gonzalez’s overtime field goal for win against Utah. This was a huge victory for the Sun Devils and without Zane going four for five on the night the Devils would have been out down by the Utes.

The best moment of the season for me was being a fan at the Notre Dame game. #9 vs. #10 at the time and a revenge game that you didn’t know how it was going to play out. The Sun Devils scored 21 points in the fourth quarter and the sold out Sun Devil stadium was rocking! ASU’s defense finished the game with 61 tackles, including 10 for loss and seven sacks, and added four interceptions and two forced fumbles. It was a magical day to be a part of and I will always hold that victory precious in my memory books!

I think this is a clear choice here which I call the “fumble in Corvallis”. The Sun Devils were primed to take their claim in 2014, ranked #6 in the country. We had forgotten about the UCLA loss. All was right in the world up until this road game when the Devils let their pre-season goals slip away. Would the Devils have finished out the year winning out? Would the momentum all swung to their control. Would the Devils have the mojo to head South and beat the school in Tucson? All questions we will never know now. This game and performance was collective the “worst moment of the year” in my eyes. It led to a letdown that Sun Devil nation felt all the way around.

The guy I love listening to is quarterback Mike Bercovici. A true competitor that always wants what is best for the team. You listen when he speaks and he says all the right things that truly make you root for the guy. When it was his turn, he stepped up and took control. He fully understood his roll and embraces being a true Sun Devil teammate. He is ready to compete in 2015 and I know we all look forward to watching him grow as the starter.

From everything we have heard from practice reports and a player that I coached against at the high school level that I am really anxious to see here in 2015 is freshman Ismael Murphy-Richardson. This guy is crazy talented on both sides of the ball yet after a year of working with Coach Gris and learning the playbook on defense; I think he has all the tools to dominate. He will be a force to be seen if it all comes together.

Ups and downs filled all our hearts at the season’s end. A losses to teams we felt the Sun Devils should have beat, big wins against tough opponents. Position battles throughout the season that left us all struggling to find the right answers. It was one crazy year in Tempe. Yet back to back 10 win seasons is a huge mile stone that shows all the amazing work this staff has put together. The ASU Football program is now alive with energy and great things are coming together for the future. Like many, I can’t wait to sit in my seats and support this program. Let 2015 be the best we have ever been witness to!

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Foster didn’t quite finish the season on the same tear that he began the season on, but when all was said and done, he finished the year with some pretty gaudy numbers. He had more than double the rushing yards of any other player on the roster and only Jaelen Strong managed to contribute more as a pass catcher.

No player scored more touchdowns and no player came even close to racking up as much yardage, making Foster the easy choice for offensive MVP.

He began the year with the goal of racking up interceptions and that didn’t quite happen for Randall. It took until November for the safety to get his first pick of the year, but it was tackles that he ended up racking up instead.

Unfortunately for the team, Randall was chiefly responsible for a few of the big plays that haunted the ASU defense at times in 2014, but the aggressive safety went on a tear at one point in the season that was largely the reason why the defense was able to carry the team to Pac-12 South contention.

All that said about Randall, it was Hardison that set the tone for the entire team in 2014. Despite very limited play time in 2013, the senior took on a leadership role for the young ASU defense and led by example on the field too.

Hardison finished the year with 10.0 sacks, becoming only the third player to reach double-digit sacks for the Sun Devils in the last six seasons. Only Carl Bradford and Will Sutton managed to do so in 2012, playing positions better suited to rush the passer, I might add.

For all the yardage racked up by Foster, it was Richard that finished with the better yards per carry average in 2014. He capped his season with a three touchdown performance against Duke, but it was the culmination of a great season for the true freshman.

The story all year for Richard was his age, which was made even more interesting by the fact that the running back set himself apart with the mature, patient running of a seasoned veteran.

A year ago there were few people that even thought Simone would be starting in the ASU defense in 2014, let alone an extremely key piece. Everything that was said about the strong season of Damarious Randall could also be applied to Simone, who racked up tackles and managed to be the guy in the right place at the right time often.

Simone promises to be a key leader in the ASU defense in 2014 and it wouldn’t be surprising at all if he is named a team captain in 2015 less than a year after he was awarded a scholarship.

Coaches raved about Bercovici and players expressed confidence in the backup quarterback’s ability to step in for Taylor Kelly, but I’m not sure any could honestly say they expected the performance Bercovici put on against USC.

He kept that momentum going with a strong performance against Stanford and a full-blown quarterback controversy was born. But with all the opinions of the handling of Kelly and Bercovici, it’s impressive to think back at the perceived drop-off between the two quarterbacks back in August.

One of the reasons few believed Simone would be the starter is that so many thought he was just a placeholder for Ball. After injury robbed Ball of a starting role as a true freshman, the prevailing thought was that he would step back into that role when healthy after a redshirt season.

That didn’t happen and, with the emergence of Simone, Ball ended up struggling to find a permanent spot. Now entering his sophomore season, it’s hard to say whether Ball will fight for time as a linebacker or a safety, but he appears to be an early long shot to have extended play time in 2015.

The junior took over for Kody Koebensky and played well all season, but it was the amount of time he played all season that was most commendable. Kelly racked up injuries and, while he was limited often in practice, he kept showing up ready to play on game day.

A lot of players played through injuries for the Sun Devils in 2014, but Kelly exemplified most what that grit really looks like.

Calhoun really has just one speed and that’s full speed. That got the true freshman in trouble a few times early in the year, and a starting role might have been too much, too soon; however, he shined in a rotational role.

With another offseason and more time to direct that fury in a more coherent play style, Calhoun should be a player that continues to make big plays for ASU moving forward.

The only returning starter on the defensive line was Jaxon Hood and he missed a significant amount of time. Yet, it was the ASU front that wound up carrying the team on a run that put the team in national title contention in November.

A true Devil-backer player in the mold of Carl Bradford never emerged for the team, but the adjustment to use Demetrius Cherry as a full-time starter paid huge dividends for the defense and the growth of the defensive line as a unit was very impressive.

When Duke scored with five minutes remaining in the Sun Bowl, all eyes were on Taylor Kelly to lead the team down the field for a game-winning score. Instead Ballage left the ASU offense with four yards to gain to take the lead and his freshman counterpart did the rest.

It’s anyone’s guess what Kelly and the ASU offense would have done with a 75- or 80-yard field to work with, but Ballage effectively saved the Sun Devils from having to find out and made the single biggest play in a game that gave ASU double-digit wins for a second straight year.

A loss to Oregon State let all the air out of a balloon that ASU pumped up to exciting levels with a 55-31 victory over Notre Dame. After Kelly ran in for a 2-yard touchdown with less than a minute remaining, there was no question that the College Football Playoff was within reach for the Sun Devils.

The players knew it, the fans knew it and when “Turn Down For What?” started playing in Sun Devil Stadium before the ensuing kickoff, a full dance party broke out. Damarious Randall, James Johnson, Marcus Ball, Kweishi Brown, Armand Perry and Christian Sam all danced onto the field and there was an energy in the stadium that was something special to be experienced.

Not to say that it was unjustified or that Kelly’s play didn’t warrant a benching, it was just a sad moment, regardless. Kelly will go down as one of the best quarterbacks in the school’s history and with his team backed in a corner in the rivalry game of his senior year; the team captain had to watch from the sideline.

In hindsight it’s tough to say what things would have looked like if Kelly never broke his foot against Colorado and it’s tough to say what would have been if Bercovici was named starter much earlier. No matter what though, it was a sad way for the tremendous collegiate career of Kelly to come to an end.

The defensive tackle missed time early in the year and missed the entire end of the season, but during his limited time talking to the media, he was always good for an excellent quote or two.

Whether it was the team’s loss in the 2013 Pac-12 Championship being attributed to “hippity hopping around” or comparisons of beating Stanford in 2014 to NBA dynasties overcoming their predecessors, Hood is witty, quick and comical in front of microphones.

Ismael Murphy-Richardson was a late arriver to the ASU practice fields in 2014 so he never had much of a chance at contributing as a true freshman. It was also tough to take away too much from his performance in practices except for that fact that he went 100 percent all the time to the point that it was kind of funny to watch him battle senior leaders like Jamil Douglas in practice.

The athletic linebacker is still very thin, but given a year in ASU’s offseason conditioning program, I’m excited to see what kind of role he takes on in 2015 and if he can find extended playing time in the defense.

ASU was an overachieving team in 2014 that succeeded with the guise of a national title contender, but just wasn’t quite there yet.

______________________________________________________________

The list of accolades for wide receiver Jaelen Strong is very lengthily, and I won’t bore anybody listing all of them. But here’s just one incredible stat to keep in mind: 62 of Strong’s 82 receptions, or 75.6 percent, went for either a first down or a touchdown. Therefore, he’s the obvious choice for this honor. For good or for bad, the passing game if not the entire ASU offense went as far as Strong would take it. The majority of his receptions resulted in first downs and if that isn’t the ultimate definition of a Most Valuable Player, I don’t what is. Aside from Terrell Suggs, we haven’t seen anyone this century who has dominated in an ASU uniform as much as Strong did. And much like T-Sizzle, he should be making some noise on Sundays as well.

Team Captain Laiu Moeakiola played in all 13 games, but three of them he didn’t finish due to injury. All three contests resulted in a loss. If that’s not the definition of a Most Valuable Player, I don’t know what is.

From his Spur position Moeakiola was the quarterback of this defense and one of the most irreplaceable players on the Sun Devil squad. His five sacks rank second on the team and his 10.5 tackles for loss place him 3rd. He was by far one of the biggest playmakers on the team and in essence was one of the players who in the beginning of the season “held the fort” until the rest of the defense improved its collective play.

Much like some of my other selection in this article, he truly makes you excited for 2015.

Jaelen Strong for the reasons mentioned above.

Even before his remarkable four-touchdown Sun Bowl MVP performance, running back Demario Richard was a clear choice for this award. Some thought that his fellow Kalen Ballage would be more of an impact player as a true freshman, but that never materialized as Richard became more and more a factor in this ASU offense.

Richard collected 478 rushing yards and lost only yards during his 84 rushing attempts the entire season. His low center of gravity build and feet that never stop moving making this very young player (turned 18 only on December 2nd, 2014) a challenge for defenders to tackle. When you take into account that Richard is still not physically mature as he could, nor has the level of game knowledge he will ultimately acquire, the future is indeed very bright for the Sun Devils’ youngest returning player.

I interpret this award to be given to a player that wasn’t considered a newcomer in 2014, which is why my vote goes to Antonio Longino.

It’s pretty ironic how the junior went pretty quickly from not being the answer at Devil backer to truly finding his niche at WILL linebacker and be a significant part of the dramatic turnaround in the ASU defense. During 2013’s fall camp he was known as the only newcomer who was diligently taking notes during the first few practices then, and he has put those learning’s as well as his limited reserve duty to great use the next year.

Suffice to say that no one predicted Longino to at the beginning of the year to finish the season third on the team with 94 stops and it’s fitting that he saved his best for last with 17 total tackles in the Sun Bowl (probably should have been the Defensive MVP in that game).

There are a lot of reasons to get excited about a 2015 ASU defense which loses just two starters from this past season and Antonio Longino is certainly one reason for that sentiment.

Granted, we were “warned” by Todd Graham prior to spring practice that safety Jordan Simone was going to be one player we should keep an eye on and Simone made sure to deliver on that promise in spades. He technically was a newcomer since he redshirted in 2013 following his transfer from Washington State, but on the field his leadership and football I.Q. resembled much more that of a seasoned veteran.

He and Damarious Randall were easily a Top 3 safety tandem in the Pac-12, and even though Simone missed the Arizona game at season end he was still second on the team with 100 tackles. His game knowledge along with his reckless abandonment play made him one of the Sun Devils’ best defenders and a viable cornerstone for the 2015 unit.

Running back Deantre Lewis fought so hard to come back from his random shooting incident four or so years ago and was perhaps the easiest player to root for ever since.

At times showed to be one of the most explosive players on offense and made the most out of his limited touches. Ultimately his ball security and run blocking issues saw him plummet down the depth chart and to top it off he acrimoniously left the team prior to the bowl game making his tenure in Tempe that much more disappointing.

Don’t know how anyone on this team else other than D.J, Foster is more worthy for this award. Much like last year, the senior-to be lined up every week at running back and wide receiver and has excelled in both roles. He’s the only active Football Bowl Subdivision player to account for more than 1,500 career rushing yards and 1,500 career receiving yards, and this year alone he posted 1,769 all-purpose yards (none of them on special teams) and 12 touchdowns.

It’s easy to pout and worse than that let your production be affected when you’re asked to be effectively shuttled between different roles each game, and it was probably somewhat a blow to the ego when Foster, tabbed the leading running back coming into the season, was done the stretch yielding more and more carries to a true freshman in Demario Richard. But Foster didn’t let any of those factors affect him one iota and once again was one of the most dangerous players offensively on in the Pac-12.

Now next year as he concentrates on playing wide receiver and less running back he won’t be eligible for this award at all…and yes I’m joking.

There was no way I was going to leave ASU’s leading tackler in 2014, Damarious Randall, off of my list. And as it is, this award really fits his playing style anyway. 106 overall tackles which ranked him in the upper echelon nationally in the tackles per game category, 9.5 tackles for loss which admittingly surprised me when I looked it up working on this article. Three interceptions, nine pass breakups and 12 passes defended are also stats that many defensive backs would be envy of. So when you look all of those numbers, let alone watch him on the gridiron, you know that you had the ultimate combination of a fierce hitter and an agile cover player that perfectly defines this award.

Defensive line coach Jackie Shipp may have received just one vote last year in this category but this year that shouldn’t be the case. Now, you can make the argument that in 2013 he may have had a great base to start from with Will Sutton and hybrid defensive end Carl Bradford, although he did a formidable job coaching up Gannon Conway and Davon Coleman. But in 2014 he didn’t have that luxury.

Nonetheless, with a cast of characters that were vastly inexperienced and really a group that prompted much apprehension in the pre-season over the prospects of the entire defense, let alone changing to a more true 4-3 scheme after four games into the season, Shipp successfully had this front four playing at a high level and becoming the catalyst to the entire defensive turnaround, one that in essence is the basis for ASU’s 10-3 record.

Whether it’s considerably elevating the play of Marcus Hardison, successfully integrating Ami Latu into the group and turning the almost forgotten Demetrius Cherry into a significant contributor on the line, Shipp was able to hit all the right buttons and his demanding style of coaching brought the best out of his players.

Yes, it’s hard not to go for the Jael Mary, but I will try my best…

Now some claim may claim my answer is still an obvious choice, I will go with Kweishi Brown’s interception in the end zone against Duke, with 45 seconds left in the Sun Bowl to preserve the win as well as notch an historic back to back 10th victory of the season.

Let’s face it, Brown was picked on all day by the Duke’s passing game and quite frankly lost, more battles that he won. But true to the mantra of a cornerback that through success or failure has to have a short memory, Brown put his struggles aside to make one of the tougher interceptions you will see showing great athleticism, concentration and hands. But again, not only a remarkable defensive play but one that carried a lot of meaning and really prevented 2014 from being a disappointing campaign.

The 55-31 win over Notre Dame was truly the moment where ASU “arrived” on the national scene and it was also the first time it was mentioned as a possibility to be included in the College Football playoff’s final four. No matter how good or bad the Fighting Irish are in any given a year, a win over that team, let alone a three-touchdown plus victory will move the needle across the nation and have you become one of the headlines on every media outlet that covers college football.

The win really validated the remarkable turnaround of a team that many thought would go into the tank after demoralizing home loss to UCLA. The defensive performance was simply suffocating the visitors and the offense finally showed what it could like when it was playing up to its potential.

Notre Dame as you recall was trying hard to get out of this 2014 meeting and looking back you can argue that they had a strong premonition regarding this contest. Either that or just plain bad karma…

While the loss to UCLA was demoralizing, and the loss to Arizona was a huge opportunity missed to repeat as Pac-12 South champions, I too agree that the loss to Oregon State has to be the lowest point of the season.

I personally hate it when people or teams play into the hands of the critics rather than prove them wrong. In the week leading up to the Corvallis road trip we all heard ad nauseum about how much this contest was a trap game and how the Sun Devils were ripe for a letdown, and that’s exactly what happened in the 35-27 loss.

ASU went from being a serious contender for the College Football playoff final four and one that controlled its own destiny in terms of the Pac-12 South championship, to losing two of its last three regular season games and deflating a lot of excitement that existed in Tempe at the time.

I don’t know what it is with ASU cornerbacks, and I mean this is every good way, but for the second year in a row players at this position have been a delight to interview. In 2013 it was Robert Nelson with Osahon Irabor not far behind, and this year it was Lloyd Carrington who I give this award to and Kweishi Brown may have been in stronger contention if we interviewed him as much as Carrington.

The senior to-be always gave honest and thoughtful quotes, and was never was at loss for words whether he was talking into a recorder or facing a camera. Look forward to many more good interviews from him in 2015.

I know that Ismael Murphy-Richardson is the popular pick here, but if Davon Durant hits the ground running I don’t know how much playing he may get. So my pick is running back De’Chavon “Gump” Hayes.

With Foster assuming more of a wide receiver duty in 2015, this is a golden opportunity for Hayes to assume the role of…Foster himself in his first three years at ASU. Furthermore, Hayes stands to immediately elevate ASU’s return game, one aspect that certainly begs improvement over last year. In the bowl practices Hayes has shown lived up to his elite speed and quickness accolades and should be a solid addition that could develop into a legitimate weapon on offense.

A season that was dangerously close to going south ultimately became an historic one for a program that continues to be on the rise.

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