Spring 2005 Recap

The books are now closed on an eventful spring for the Sun Devil football squad. Last Saturday a controlled scrimmage took place inside Sun Devil Stadium with a few highlights on both sides of the ball. Several notable contributors were out due to injury for all or some portions of spring workouts, allowing many of the younger players to gain some valuable repetitions.



Sam Keller is the clear cut favorite as the starter heading into Camp Tontozona. Redshirt freshman Rudy Carpenter has enough talent to make the QB battle interesting but didn't do enough this spring to unseat Keller, who has become the true leader for the offense. Senior Chad Christensen has been buried on the depth chart since Andrew Walter's coming out party in 2002. This spring, Christensen revised his utility man role by taking snaps with the receivers and showed enough to possibly see some snaps over there this fall.

Offensive Line

Grayling Love is firmly entrenched at the starting center spot, and will be backed up by Mike Pollak who started four games at this position last year. Andrew Carnahan will be the starter at right tackle, with Julius Orieukwu and Paul Fanaika rounding out the depth chart at this role. The other three spots on the line are not entirely sewn up, as there has been a lot of experimentation and ambiguity due to injuries. Zach Krula and Stephen Berg are currently leading as the starters at the right and left guard roles respectively. However, Leo Talavou played very well at left guard while Berg was nursing an injury, and Gustavis showed that he could push Krula. The left tackle position may see the fiercest battle of them all. Brandon Rodd is expected to make a strong push for the starting position when he returns from injury this fall. Bradis McGriff was hampered a bit with an injury before showing promise. Chaz White took advantage of both of those ailments to get an extensive number of reps this spring. Jonathan Lehmann and Brent Russum were both dismissed from the team earlier this month. However, with the quality of the depth at this position their departure isn't likely to impact this group.

Running Back

It was a repeat of last season, with this position being low on experience and bodies. Rudy Burgess, who split time in the spring between wide receiver and tailback, is the starter here and according to head Dirk Koetter remains the best player at this position. Antone Saulsberry has stayed put at this role, after moving from linebacker, and got better each day in the spring. Price Wilks got his first real taste of the offense and is still learning after coming off of a redshirt year. Wilks could use some more time in the weight room in the off-season but could still contribute on the field this fall unless somebody really separates themselves from the rest of the pack. Aaron Lafitte turned some heads in spring drills but isn't a viable option at this time because he will be sitting out this fall after transferring. Randy Hill and Cornell Canidate were injured during the spring, and their degree of effectiveness once they come back in the fall will dramatically shape the depth chart here.

Wide Receiver

Derek Hagan continues to improve his game and looks like he his primed for a run at an All-American type of season in 2005. Terry Richardson will also see a lot of balls thrown his way, as he did nothing in the spring to doubt his status as a first teamer. The talent is still visible beyond both of those players but consistency has generally hampered a lot of the enthusiasm. Nate Kimbrough used spring drills to showcase his talents and looks like a strong contender for extensive playing time after redshirting last year. He and Moey Mutz, who didn't practice in the spring, will be backing up Hagan. Fellow redshirt freshman to-be Michael   Jones had some nice catches in the spring but doesn't appear to be as polished as Kimbrough. Jones and Matt Miller will play behind Richardson. As mentioned, Chad Christensen added some nice depth at the position this spring and made the most of his opportunity here. Will it be enough to land him playing time this fall when Moey Mutz and Matt Miller return to the fold healthy? Time will tell. Rudy Burgess is another option for Koetter here as well so finding ample playing time for all receivers may be hard to come by this season if all remain healthy.

Tight End

Lee Burghgraef was his usual consistent self and in his senior year will remain the undisputed starter at HB, and will be backed up by Brent Miller. Jamaal Lewis is an accomplished route runner and receiver, who can be a real force if he improves on his blocking. Lewis will play behind last year's freshman sensation Zach Miller, who will return to action in the fall after being out all spring due to injury. Andrew Pettes, another solid spring performer, rounds out the TE group. Overall, the wealth of talent, much like WR, may make it hard for backups to find many reps during a game.


Defensive Line

Jordan Hill is the starter at one tackle, while Kyle Caldwell will be manning one of the end spots. Thus, one tackle spot and one end spot are up for grabs and it appears the competition will continue this fall as not much has been settled in the spring. Quency Darley has looked decent at tackle, and currently doesn't have any one player seriously challenging him. DeWayne Hollyfield is backing up Hill, while Brett Palmer is backing up Darley. At end looks a like it may be a little sketchy with no one out of the trio of Kellen Mills, Wes Evans, and Mike Talbot solidly emerging from the group. At the end of spring, Talbot is being listed as the starter but that is far from being engraved in stone. JC transfer Will Kofe was one of the better performers on this side of the ball, and his play at Camp T will tell if he will continue to back up Caldwell, who was out the last week or so of the spring, or emerge at the starter opposite the person he's playing behind. Mark Washington was moved to end from linebacker at the tail end of spring, in hopes that this move can be the one to finally get him extensive time between the lines. Tyrice Thompson moved here from tight end and is still learning on the job.


Matt Fawley quit the team midway through spring, allowing Robert James to be penciled in as the leading candidate to start at the "Will" (what was known last year as "Devil") linebacker. Jamar Williams and Dale Robinson will again be starters at the other two spots, Robinson lining up in the middle ("Mike") this year though, with Jamar moving to the strong side (SAM). JC Transfer Beau Manutai had a respectable showing in the spring and will back up Robinson. DeAndre Johnson will back up Williams, while Nick Clapp will do the same with James. Upon his return, Lamar Baker could make a push for the "Will" spot.


JC Transfer Zach Catanese wowed everyone in the spring. He'll likely log many minutes this fall but will he do it as a starter is still in question. Should Emmanuel Franklin return in the fall after taking the spring off to concentrate on academics, he'd be a starter. Josh Barrett saw extensive time last season and a successful return from injury could elevate him to the first team. Maurice London appears to be suiting up as a starter in his senior year, with Jeremy Payton, who made a successful transition from wide receiver, backing up. Rodney Cox, Angelo Fobbs-Valentino and Daniel Varvel are likely to take more snaps on special teams than they will at safety.


To say that this position was decimated by injuries this spring would be a gross understatement. The search for able bodies even reached the hard court as Sun Devil point guard Jason Braxton came and tried his luck for part of the spring. The best news with this unit is that no one was injured, while Josh Golden, Chad Green, and RJ Oliver are all expected to be healthy come Camp T. Senior Mike Davis was expected to make more of splash in the spring, but it was actually Uriah Marshall, Littrele Jones and Myrio Davis who arguably had a better showing. Ironically, good or bad performances in the spring may not matter, as all the healthy and able players in the spring will eventually yield way to starters Oliver and Golden, with Green being the first one off the bench.

Special Teams

Kicker Jesse Ainsworth looked to regain his form after having a below average ending to his 2004 season. Punter Chris MacDonald was hampered by an injury in the spring, and backup Greg Woidneck seem to take full advantage of it, setting up an unlikely heated position battle this fall. Long snapper Jason Burke, much like Burghgraef, is a quiet yet steady force who's entrenched as a starter. Burgess will be the main kick and return person. Richardson and Kimbrough are the main backups at this role.

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