Player Capsule: Carlos Mendoza
Position: SAM (field side) linebacker
Weight: 230 pounds
2014 season quick review: Mendoza played in seven games and had three tackles for the season.
Co-defensive coordinator/linebacker coach Keith Patterson's take: "He's just had a lot of bad luck, I know that he did before I got here with some of the injuries and then he was off to a good start last year (in camp) before he got hurt again (torn meniscus) and it set him back. He's a good, solid player and hopefully for him and for us he can stay on the field because I think when he does he has a chance to really help us, I really do."
SunDevilSource.com analysis: Mendoza's strength is his dependability within the scheme, but the problem he has is that he's been too injury prone to be able to demonstrate it with any level of consistency. Mendoza has had shoulder, knee and other injuries that have popped up almost every time ASU has gone more than a week or two of spring ball or fall camp. Last year he was playing his best ball in August immediately before tearing knee meniscus within a day of Camp Tontozona and he was never able to get back on track after the surgery and subsequent rehab in terms of getting enough momentum in practice to earn playing time.
Mendoza bends well, plays with a low center of gravity and is a pretty sure tackler. He is one of ASU's more patient and prepared linebackers, with a nice nose for the football and an ability to sniff out plays. He's a moderate athlete, not going to be a liability in that regard by any stretch, and at one earlier point in his career showed some potential at Spur. More than anything else, Mendoza just needs to get some continuity that will only be accomplished by staying healthy and on the field through spring ball and fall camp, and demonstrate reliability when he does so. He's had some missed assignments at times, but not that many when compared with the group on average and if anyone slips up in that regard ahead of him, Mendoza could be ready to capitalize.
Projected depth chart status: If he can stay healthy it's not out of the question that Mendoza could play himself into a second-team role behind Salamo Fiso at the SAM position. He's reliable in terms of fundamentals and tends to know and fulfill his role when given the opportunity in scrimmages and that should carry over to games. He'll have to beat out Christian Sam though, at a minimum, and that's no easy task because Sam is a more athletic player with a higher ceiling given that he's also younger