Position: Running Back
Weight: 210 pounds
2014 season quick review:After a delayed start out of the gate due to a late NCAA Clearinghouse approval, Richard had a remarkably impressive rookie season in Tempe, especially considering he was the youngest true freshman on the roster, still 17 years old until last December. Richard led the Sun Devils with a 5.7 yard per carry average and was second on the team with 478 yards on 84 carries with four touchdowns. He had 116 carries yards on 14 carries against Utah, led ASU with 68 rushing yards against Arizona and had four touchdown runs against Duke in the Sun Bowl leading to game Most Valuable Player honors.
Running back coach Bo Graham’s recent assessment: “I was really proud of Demario, he's a guy that's very competitive so he gets frustrated easily, but one thing about him, and I'll coach any guy that's like this, he never makes the same mistake twice. He learns from his mistakes and that's why once we got to that Washington week, you kind of saw him take over, because he stopped thinking and it became second nature to him, now he was able to be instinctive.”
“Especially 17 years old and not fumble once, besides a power read mesh at New Mexico it was just a bad reaction, it had nothing to do with him carrying the ball, but never was the ball ever even in jeopardy. He's such a strong kid, that his ball security skills are ridiculous, he's just naturally strong. I was really really proud of him, I knew he had the potential but it was just learning it and at first he hit that wall and he'd get frustrated.”
SunDevilSource.com analysis: Extremely powerful and instinctive as a running back, Richard is quite simply a natural at the position. He has very good vision and feel as an inside runner, hits the proper hole aggressively and operates with ideal pad level and leverage. Those things combined with his oak-strong torso and legs allow him to generate impressive yards after contact and he also tends to have good lateral elusiveness that prevents a lot of on-center hits. Arm tackles and glancing blows don’t really tend knock him off his inertia and because he is explosive into the hole he often has more space than other backs to operate because linebackers haven’t closed down the gap as quickly as more hesitant ball carriers.
Stoutness, strength, toughness and a low center of gravity also make Richard a very good protection back when ASU decides to keep him in the backfield on passing downs and he’s able to attack and block in space as well. Additionally, Richard has natural footwork, good hands and change of direction as a route runner, which affords ASU the ability to use him as a full service player in every personnel grouping it uses on offense, and makes him a great upside three down running back. Though he doesn’t have elite speed at the second level, Richard has very good quickness for the type of back he is, and has NFL upside. This is one of the young best running backs ASU has had on its roster in the last several decades.
Projected depth chart status: Senior D.J. Foster is moving to receiver from running back in part because it will enhance his profile as an NFL prospect but also because it’s a way to get Richard and Foster on the field as much as possible together, and Richard has perhaps already surpassed Foster in terms of his inside run capability, particularly from a power and yards after contact standpoint. It is likely Richard will be the team’s top ball carrier in the year ahead as long as he stays healthy and dialed in to his on and off-field responsibilities.