"We're making progress. It seems like everyday we're getting better."
Erickson has been impressed with the play of several newcomers in practice, and that notion didn't change with the team's first practice in pads. "It's a good group," he said. "You can go from top to bottom…it's a heck of a class and they have proven it. We'll see how it continues to go. It's a very athletic group and a group that likes to play football. We're happy with it."
The tight end unit has shown progress, according to the ASU head coach. He pointed to the fact that both starters Andrew Pettes and Jovon Williams, have played and been with the program for a while. Erickson stated that JC transfer Stanley Malamala and Dan Knapp have played well in fall camp and round up a good group.
"We're talking about four wides," said Erickson, "and from what I've seen from our tight end group we can go into two, three tight ends too. So, I'm pretty happy with that group right now."
In particular, Pettes who has slimmed down to 235 pounds has become more athletic and quicker. "He runs routes better, he's more physical, better on his feet," Erickson noted, "and a lot of it had to do with what Ben (Hilgart, the team's Strength & Conditioning coach) did with him this summer."
Wide receiver Kerry Taylor seems to have a stranglehold on the starting slot receiver position, and Erickson credits the sophomore's consistency. "You go through the spring; you go through the summer and what he has done so far he has been very consistent," aid Erickson. "He can play inside, he can play outside and that's what's great about him. He has really worked to become better than he has. You can tell that."
After being bit by the injury bug in 2007, Saia Falahola has ascended to the first team right tackle alongside David Smith in practice. "He's starting to play like we thought he was when he got hurt in the Stanford game," said Erickson. ‘He's been a pleasant surprise for us."
On Friday, Keelan Johnson was able to practice for the first time after getting qualified academically by the NCAA Clearinghouse. He lined up at wide receiver and Erickson stated that he looked very fast without pads, compared to everyone else. "But I don't think it's a fair assessment," said Erickson.
Cornerback Pierre Singfield was arguably the biggest surprise of spring practice and the JC transfer room Pima (Ariz.) Community College has built on that momentum as he battles Terell Carr for a starting role.
"We're very fortunate," Erickson acknowledged. "He walks-on last spring when they dropped football down there (at Pima CC). He had a very good spring, had a good summer, he isn't on scholarship and he's competing for a starting position. Terell still battling back from that knee – it's not 100%. Pierre is getting a lot of opportunities there to prove himself and he's been playing very well."
To read an extensive report of ASU's Friday practice click here