Herring Assuming Leadership Role

He can certainly lead by example, after establishing several freshman ASU records. Anyone who has been an earshot from this sophomore knows that being vocal leader would be second nature for him. The Sun Devil running back knows that his efforts have to be stepped up in each way, in order for his team to prosper in 2006.

We caught up with the 5-10 186 Keegan Herring following the first practice in pads. "We liked the first day in pads," he said. "We're all big backs and we can take a lot of hits this year. It's nice to go out there and play hard in pads." Not only is Herring surrounded by more physical ball carriers, but the talent among this unit is quite evident. "We got Dewitty who's the big house," he commented, "We got Torain who's big too. Dimitri Nance is good…we just leave it all up for Coach Koetter to call the plays and we'll do what we do best."

By his own admission, at times he was unsure of himself in 2005. 840 yards and six touchdowns later, and his confidence is currently sky high, which is uses not only for himself, but also for his comrades. "I feel that I have to lead this team, and help the backups," explained Herring. "Just like me last year, they don't know a whole lot right now and I have to help them out, teach them, so we have a lot of good running backs on this team and we have good competition."

Herring is excited with what first-year offensive coordinator Roy Wittke has introduced to the team. "He's thrown in a lot of new additions," he commented. "We've all learned a lot and can't wait until we can put it into live game action." And when Gameday arrives, Herring doesn't expect to see opposing defenses gear up to put pressure on the line of scrimmage. "We'll never gonna see eight men in the box because we're a balanced team," he remarked. "A lot of defenses may show us the 4-3, but no more eight in the box. We did throw a lot last year, but I know that we will run more this year."

On Gameday, some of those run plays will have to result in converting third down and short yardage – an area where the maroon and gold struggled mightily in 2005. "I take that as something to motivate me," he admitted. "We have to get it done, and if the ball is given to me or someone else we have to get that first down. I've had a lot of time to study film and learn from my coaches, which helps me overall to improve for the upcoming season. I've had the chance to realize what I need to improve to be successful at ASU."

Specifically, the sophomore feels that he bettered himself in two aspects of his game. "I really improved on my field vision," said Herring. "Last year I would run into a lot of my players, getting tackled when I shouldn't have. I watched a lot of film so I can improve and be more competent. That also helped my pass blocking – I caught a lot of flack for that. I got much better at that and I had to so I can help our team win."

Undoubted, Herring attributes some of his success to Rudy Burgess who mentored his fellow running back last year. These days Burgess is back at his desired position of wide receiver, which leaves Herring as the most experienced player in his unit. That's a source of exhilaration, isn't it? "I wasn't real excited because he taught me a lot," replied Herring. "I guess I was disappointed that he won't be a running back, but happy that this gives me more chance to play. Nobody saying I'm the starter, every guy there can be a starter. I just have to go to Camp T and show everyone that I wan't to be the starter."

Herring commented that he's looking forward to the USC game the most in 2006. In regards to the long awaited match up with onetime high school rival and now college rival Arizona's Terry Longbons; he said that the rivalry game "doesn't worry him too much."

Playing close to home is something many recruits across the nation declare they want. The Peoria standout likes the notion of having supportive parents, who are less than an hour drive away. "That does help," he acknowledged. "If I'm struggling with anything I can go home, get a home cooked meal and look up to family for help and give me positive support."

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