One Year Wonder? Don't Tell That Shaun McDonald

When previewing ASU's wide receivers last year, all pre-season publications pointed to ex-Sun Devil Donnie O'neal as the go to guy in the passing game. Fellow ex-ASU player Ryan Dennard and senior Justin Taplin were also mentioned as possible impact players at that position. Thus, the rise of junior Shaun McDonald, who was voted first team Pac-10, was surprising. Was it a fluke? Last year's leading receiver talks about last year, and his expectations for the 2002 season.

DevilsDigest: What are the goals that you have set for yourself in spring practice?

Shaun McDonald: "Personally I'm trying to get my steps down in my routes. Last year, sometimes I took too many steps and messed up my breaks. Now I'm cutting those steps in half. So, that's the biggest thing I'm trying to correct."

DD: Have you seen any results for your effort?

SM: "Yes. As a receiving core we got a lot better in our route technique and just attacking defensive backs. We're just more disciplined and consistent. We drop the ball less."

DD: How is your role on special teams going to be different this year?

SM: "Right now I'm the #1 kick returner. Taplin and Hakim are the punt returners. I returned punts last year, and I have problem doing it again this year."

DD: Following up a year like you had last season, can be nerve racking. How do you think you'll deal with that pressure? Can you duplicate on last year's numbers?

SM: "I don't feel pressure. I feel that I have to do my job, and that is to make plays. I think that the expectations are something good, and make me work harder. I definitely look to duplicate what I did last year, and do even more than that. You can't be satisfied with one good year. You have to aspire to something higher."

DD: Right now the receiver core is working with three fairly new quarterbacks. How difficult is it for your group, which most of its success depends on the play of the quarterback?

SM: "It's been a little frustrating having three different quarterbacks working with you. Some throw the deep ball on a rope, and some put some air underneath it. It's hard to adjust. But if you want to be a great receiver, you have to catch whatever they throw at you. I'd definitely be happy when they settle on a #1 quarterback (smile). That will be good for the whole offense." DD: How is the depth chart at wide receiver shaping up right now?

SM: "I think Taplin is the #2 receiver. He's very consistent and catches almost everything. Lightfoot plays behind him, and Miller plays behind me. We also have a big receiver in Mike Holloway who switched from safety. That's a pretty good core. We're gonna do pretty well."

DD: Aside from having a new quarterback, most of the running backs and offensive linemen are pretty new. How does that affect the wide receivers?

SM: "The passing game won't work without a good running game. Guys like Hill, Williams, and Canidate all do well there. They all make big runs, and that's what you need as a receiver. You want the safeties to come up, so you get one-on-one coverage on the outside."

DD: Team unity is very important to Dirk Koetter. Have you seen that aspect grow strong in the team?

SM: "Definitely. Every time we're together as a football team you build unity. But this year I feel like we're more friendly to each other, and everyone really thinks of each other as brothers out there."

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