Player Capsule: Carlos Mendoza
Position: SAM (field side) linebacker
Weight: 231 pounds
2015 season quick review: Injuries kept Mendoza off the field yet again for much of last year.
2014 season quick review: Mendoza played in seven games and had three tackles for the season.
Defensive coordinator/linebacker coach Keith Patterson's take (in 2015): "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 [in 2014] (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 (05/2016): As has often been the case, Mendoza practiced well when healthy this spring and showed that he's very capable of playing a second-string role at a minimum as he enters his fifth-year senior season. Mendoza has enough scheme flexibility to play SAM, WILL or even Spur. Perhaps due to the fact he's entering his senior year, Mendoza had a real edge about him in the spring. His energy was palpable, often showing a little more physicality than even called for in the drills or team work.
It's a shame for Mendoza that he's had injury problems every year since arriving at ASU because he has a pretty good skill set and football IQ and is a moderate athlete for the position. The injuries allowed others to rise up and flourish at the positions and that makes playing time tough to come by as he gets into his senior season even though he's capable of playing effectively in the Pac-12.
(03/2015) 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: Salamo Fiso and Christian Sam are going to be the SAM and WILL starters, respectively, with D.J. Calhoun a starter-caliber player backing them up on base downs and starting in ASU's nickel package. Mendoza is battling with sophomore Khaylan Thomas to be ASU's fourth inside linebacker on the depth chart, and could potentially factor into the depth chart at Spur when ASU goes to more of a true linebacker at the position, as it may do against pro-style teams.