Christian Hill could factor in as third down pass rusher

Arizona State head coach Todd Graham said defensive lineman Christian Hill could see time as a third down pass-rusher against UCLA.

At 6-foot-6, 265 pounds, Arizona State junior defensive lineman Christian Hill is a massive specimen. 

But to date, the Sun Devils have only used Hill sparingly, relying on the United States Air Force veteran as an extra blocker in the team's "Sparky" package. 

On Thursday, ASU head coach Todd Graham suggested Hill's role may expand, though, as the junior college transfer continues to familiarize himself with the Sun Devils' scheme.

Graham said the Sun Devils hope to use Hill as a third down pass rusher against UCLA, providing pressure against Bruins' quarterback Josh Rosen.

"He'll (Hill) play in the Sparky package always, I don't think we'll ever take him off there he's doing a great job there," Graham said. "We've got him right now, he'll factor in and be a third down end and pass rusher this week. So we're going to play him at defensive end and he'll be an edge rusher on third down. But he's going to play both, he spends about 25 minutes a day on offense and the rest on defense."

Hill has contributed on special teams and offense this season for the Sun Devils, but has not yet earned a snap on the defensive side of the ball, where ASU recruited him to play.

Hill has also contributed in another role for ASU, leading the team out of the 'Tillman Tunnel' at Sun Devil Stadium carrying the American flag. 

Hill is the second veteran to carry the American flag during the Sun Devils' pregame routine under Graham, as United States Marine veteran and former Sun Devil defensive lineman Jake Sheffield also held that responsibility.

Watching Hill carry the flag prior to games means quite a bit to Graham, who reflected on the significance of having a veteran lead ASU onto the field after Thursday's practice.

"I think he's a fitting guy to do that, obviously he's a guy that has served our country and it means something to me when I see him carry that flag," Graham said. "It's something that I think he takes a great deal of pride in and it's something that we think is his honor to do."

News and notes

  • Senior placekicker Zane Gonzalez is three field goals away from breaking the NCAA career record held by former Florida State kicker Dustin Hopkins. Graham reflected on what seeing Gonzalez break the record will mean to him if it happens this weekend. "It's a big deal, to what it's going to mean to me, I'm really happy for Zane. You can't focus on something, talk a whole lot about something until you do it, but I'm very proud of him and it's not one of those things. Most things like that I don't spend much time on, but I love this game and that is a monumental accomplishment if and when he gets that done."
  • Sophomore quarterback Manny Wilkins did not participate in any jogging or movement portions of ASU's warmups prior to Thursday's practice. Wilkins jogged on Tuesday, but was limited to stretching on Wednesday and Thursday.
  • Junior cornerback Maurice Chandler was in a green jersey on Tuesday, but Graham said Thursday that he expects Chandler to play this week and even expects him in the defensive rotation. 
  • Junior linebacker Christian Sam did not jog during warmups Thursday, and has not participated in any individual drills open to the media at practice since suffering an injury against Northern Arizona.

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