Player Capsule: Edmond Boateng
Position: Defensive End
Weight: 256 pounds
2014 season quick review: Boateng had 22 tackles, including 4.5 for loss and 2.5 sacks last season, his first in Tempe. A junior college player who arrived at ASU with three seasons of eligibility, Boateng learned a lot on the fly last year as the Sun Devils had to replace essentially their entire defensive front line. He got experience at Devil and defensive end.
Defensive Line coach Jackie Shipp's take: "Well, with Boateng here's a guy who had to play out of position last year. He's really more of an end but we needed him at that Devil position and plus everything was new to him. Yeah, he's a junior college guy but it was still new for him as far as what we are doing. So he's playing Devil, he's playing end, there is a lot going on, a lot to learn. I tell you what, he's got some talent, alright. But he's got to learn more about the game. He's got to have better eyes and play more disciplined. He likes to do his own thing a little bit too much. But I think end is a good spot for him and he's getting better."
SunDevilSource.com analysis: Most defensive ends want to be pass rushers above all else, so there's no doubt Boateng was fine with playing the Devil backer spot last year extensively even though he's better suited to be a base end in the ASU defensive scheme. His lack of eye discipline was one sure way to know his predilection for hunting quarterbacks though. Boateng has a bad habit of peeking into the backfield at the quarterback rather than keying the football and keeping his vision more narrowly on his immediate task at hand, which is beating the man in front of him and using that read of the situation to quickly process and identify his assignment.
This lack of disciplinary focus led to a lot of missed assignments as a percentage of his overall reps, and Boateng also struggled to get lined up at times, another sign of his lack of experience. Coaches this spring had a tendency to get frustrated with Boateng's mental errors and it led to some intense exchanges on the sidelines. Boateng is one of the most articulate players on the ASU roster, so he no doubt has a knack for explaining a rationale for his miscues, which only seemed to exacerbate the frustration of Todd Graham. It seems evident Graham thinks Boateng is too smart to be making some of the types of mistakes he makes at this stage of his incorporation into the defense.
It's also clear that Graham and Shipp think highly of Boateng's potential, and it's easy to see why. He does a very nice job of staying square with his shoulders to the line of scrimmage and not being dislodged or twisted out of his lane. He redirects to the run well and closes down space relatively effectively for a young player, a good fit for the heavy slanting style of the ASU defensive line, especially at the end position. This spring he showed improvement with his suddenness off the snap of the ball and had more of a physical presence as a pass rusher, using more violence with his hands to keep offensive tackles from getting on him cleanly. He has good pursuit for an end and is capable of being a very solid mid-tier Pac-12 player in the role, at minimum, as long as he plays with a greater level of focus and assignment soundness.
Projected depth chart status: As long as the Sun Devils can get their situation at Devil backer solidified and Boateng won't have to move back to that position, he should be the starter at end. The only reasonably possible thing that could keep this from happening would be the continued rapid development of Renell Wren, a player who come on quite a bit at the end of the spring practice schedule. The Sun Devils would like to play more of a rotation this year along the defensive front and there's almost no way Boateng isn't playing extensive reps even if he's somehow bumped from the top spot. When he does play though, he has to be more assignment sound to maintain his status.