New Faces at Running Back Group

Shaun DeWitty got a little taste at the position last year. Coach John Wrenn is all together new to the Sun Devil coaching staff. Both of them are counted on to continue the success the Sun Devils had at running the ball last season and take it to new heights. Devils Digest talked to both about their roles on the team.

As a high school senior at Doherty, Shaun DeWitty was a 2004 first-team all-state selection in Colorado. He rushed for 2,225 yards and scored a state-high 39 touchdowns. With a talented backfield of Rudy Burgess and Keegan Herring at Arizona State, DeWitty saw limited action in five games, and 2005 is actually considered a redshirt year for him. The 6-2 216 running back is supporting a thicker frame than last year (where was listed at 200 lbs.) and early in spring practice he has shown that ability to be the bruising and physical ball carrier the Sun Devils are yearning for.

"I'm feeling pretty good," he said of his performance in spring practice. "I have a sprained shoulder, so I'm trying to get back to 100%. But I'm doing OK." When asked about his impressive weight gain, he pragmatically replied: "They just gave a whole box of protein shakes and told me to drink them every night before I go to bed (smile). I just kept drinking them and worked out hard."

With an impressive list of high school accolades, DeWitty didn't count on being on the sidelines his freshman year. "It was pretty hard," he admitted. "I was planning on playing until I got hurt, so I had to make a decision that I wasn't gonna play that much. I played more on special teams than running back. It wasn't that hard to adjust – that was just my role on the team."

In the first spring scrimmage, DeWitty collected 76 yards on only four carries. He had a long run of 40 yards and scored once from 25-yards out. "Besides my size, I improved on my vision," he stated as he compared his attributes from last year to now. "I actually know what I'm doing right now (smile)." He feels that the running back rotation is far from settled, and DeWitty sees it as "any man's race."

DeWitty is also enjoying his new position coach, former Chandler Hamilton High School coach John Wrenn. "He's real open, energetic and lively," said DeWitty. "He wakes everybody up before and during practice." When listening to Coach Wrenn, it isn't hard to detect the excitement in his voice. "Things are going great," said the three-time State Coach of the Year. "I'm really enjoying it. Being part of this program is fun, and the kids are great to work with. So far it's been a great experience." He acknowledged the fact that working at a school located less than half an hour away from his old stomping grounds was an attractive proposition. Nevertheless, another major consideration in accepting the Sun Devils job was "Coach Koetter and his knowledge of the game."

Even though he mastered the high school football scene, with his three state championships and a winning percentage of 82%, there's the natural adjustment that needs to be made when making the transition to the college level. "The understanding of all the adjustments and all the knowledge you have to learn," explained Wrenn, "Those are very different at this level. The game is obviously at a different pace, but football is still football and that's the best part."

Following the team's scrimmage, Wrenn was upbeat about his group's performance. "We really run well," he commented. "We showed we have the ability to move the ball. Keegan ran well and we pulled him out a little bit. We put in Shaun DeWitty and he ran very well and I'm real excited about that." Wrenn added that Herring has cut down on his mental mistakes and is overall a very hard worker.

His eight years at Hamilton were filled with great success. However, his memories of that institution don't point to wins or awards. "I love working with kids and those are the greatest memories for me, along with all the great associations I made and the people I was around."

Wrenn sees a big role for the running game in ASU's explosive offense. "We're gonna run and move the ball that's for sure," he claimed. "But all that matters are the W's. We're gonna score some points every game and the running game will come along just fine, especially with the way the offensive line has been blocking." His goals for the running backs as a whole were: "Ball security, yards after contact, mental mistakes and being physical…I'm real excited about this group."

With a new beginning, who can blame Wrenn or DeWitty of being eager to see what lies ahead…?

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