As Demario Richard enters his junior year, he knows more will be asked of him.
It won't be in terms of his production on the football field though, as Richard led Arizona State with 1,104 rushing yards and seven touchdowns last season and also had 31 catches for 303 yards. He's already one of the most productive returning players in the Pac-12 in terms of yards from scrimmage.
But since Richard is already established as one of the top returning running backs in the league, his ability to impact fellow Sun Devils is very high, and coaches want to maximize that.
"That leadership role is just lead by example," Richard said. "I'm not much of a talker on the field. I just get the job done, get to practice, do what I've got to do in practice, help the young guys get the job done and that's it. Coach (Chip) Lindsey, my last year's coaches, want me to be more of a vocal leader. It's hard but I've had a talk with (head sports performance) coach (Shawn) Griswold over the spring and he said the same thing, more of a vocal leader, just going up to a guy, 'hey good job,' stuff like that. Just getting more voice, that's what they want me to do."
Such a role is perhaps especially important from a continuity standpoint, as coaching turnover has presented an environment in which there are a number of changes to adjust to. In addition to a new offensive coordinator -- Lindsey -- the Sun Devils have a new running backs coach, John Simon who arrives as Lindsey does from Southern Miss, a new wide receivers coach, Jay Norvell from Texas, and tight ends coach Del Alexander has moved to the position after coaching ASU wide receivers last year.
"Great guys," Richard said. "They came in early except for coach Simon. We already had a feel for coach Lindsey. Coach Lindsey basically started running the show, put in his new terminology and everything. He's a great man. You guys know how I felt about him last year. He's a great guy, I'm happy with got that hire. Coach Simon coming along, great guy, not too much of a yeller. He'll get after you. He wants to make sure his guys all know everything because if one goes down, the No. 2, No. 3, No. 4 guy can replace No. 1 and be the same thing, you're not losing anything too. I'm happy we got him and he's a player's coach.
"It's not a different offense, same offense, different terminology, easy. Just learning the terminology, that's the hardest thing to do. But once you learn the new terminology and get everything down, it's easy."