Player Capsule: Edmond Boateng
Position: Defensive End
Weight: 265 pounds
2015 season quick review: After playing quite a bit as a sophomore in his first year at ASU, Boateng was transitioned into more of a reserve role last season. The main reason was the arrival of true freshman elite recruit Joseph Wicker. Meanwhile, at Devil backer, senior Antonio Longino was an every down player and one of the team's statistical leaders.
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.
Former defensive Line coach Jackie Shipp's take: "Well, with Boateng here's a guy who had to play out of position [in 2014]. 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 (06/2016): A lot of playing time in 2014 in his first year at ASU no doubt led Boateng to a hope that he'd be more relied upon in 2015. That never materialized, however, as freshman Joseph Wicker showed glimpses of being a star player and senior Antonio Longino won out at Devil backer, where he was statistically productive.
Boateng has to some degree been disadvantaged by ASU not being able to fully commit to whether he's an end or Devil, and he's been kept in limbo physically from a weight standpoint kind of in between the two. We think he's better suited to be a true defensive end but he's been lighter than he should be to play the type of role he's best suited for and that will probably remain the case moving forward as ASU has to hedge its bets at the Devil backer position.
There were a lot of fundamental and key read issues with Boateng's game upon arrival at ASU that he's worked to iron out and in the spring there seemed to be a lot fewer of these instances and a better position-specific and role focus on display. Some of those things probably were confidence sapping from the decision makers on snap allocation and contributed to him not playing as much last season.
(04/2015): 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: He's not going to play ahead of Wicker at the end spot so the best case scenario is that he backs up Wicker there or an unanticipated move of Wicker inside unlocks more playing time at end. Another potential pathway to playing time would be if for some reason ASU junior college signee Doug Subtyl doesn't qualify academically and ASU finds itself in a bind at Devil backer. In that scenario, if nobody else emerges it's possible that Boateng reprise the bigger Devil backer role he filled out of necessity in 2014.