Feeling Comfortable in New Surroundings

With ASU's fall camp winding down, it seems as if someone forgot to tell some true freshmen, such as Shelly Lyons, that they're supposed to still go through a steep learning curve. The middle linebacker has been impressive from day one, and having two of his Corona (Calif.) Centennial teammates with him has certainly helped his transition to the college level.

We caught up with Shelly Lyons at the end of another two-a-day practice session, and despite displaying a steady level of high performance on the second team, the linebacker admitted that fall practice has been tough on him.

"When we first got in pads and practicing in the heat it was hard," he said. "But because every practice you want to get better, you just don't think about it."

When fall camp began the 6-2 225 Lyons was immediately inserted as the team's second team MIKE linebacker and has remained a fixture there ever since. Even though he was confident in his abilities coming in a freshman, Lyons couldn't have envisioned such an early vote of confidence from the coaches.

"Coach (Bray) told me that if I can come out strong and show what I can do, he will try and put me on the field this year," said Lyons. "To play as a freshman – that's awesome. So I come out to every practice try to show coach what I can do, get the system down, and run around making plays."

What's probably even more remarkable about the quick ascent of Lyons, is that since he arrived to Tempe only in the beginning of the month, he didn't participate in the team's off-season strength and conditioning program nor the voluntarily workouts. "Most of the freshmen were here since July," Lyons noted, "but I tried hard to catch on quick and now I'm feeling comfortable in the system."

Although he was ranked as the No. 2 strong side linebacker in the West by Scout.com, and played for one of the premier high school programs in the Southern California, Arizona State was the only BCS conference school to offer him a scholarship. Pundits proclaimed him to be the steal of the Sun Devils' 2008 recruiting class, and his sideline to sideline coverage skills and sure tackling epitomize what the defensive coaching staff was looking for at the position.

"I've been able to catch on fast with gap assignments," Lyons noted, "but as we add each day we add new things and I need to get used to that. I've been doing OK catching on."

Lyons joined prep teammates Ryan Bass and Brandon Magee as members of ASU's 2008 signing class, with the later lining up right next to him at second team SAM linebacker. "It's just like old days," Lyons said with a smile. "We played together for three years and we obviously have chemistry that I think we can bring here too. It's great to have him still playing with me."

Lyons and Magee aren't the only ones tackling Bass in practice, but it seems that this tandem of linebackers are laying the wood just a little harder on their former Corona teammate. "(Laughs) Well, we couldn't him in practice in high school," Lyons stated, "so we try to show him what we can do when we get our hands on him."

In the Camp T scrimmage Lyons and the rest of his defensive teammates out played the offense, and overall this side of the ball has perhaps exceeded pre-fall camp expectations. "We're playing confident right now," Lyons acknowledged. "We know what we can do and if we can come out every day and work hard I think we can be one of the top defenses in the nation. It's not necessarily that we're playing with a swag, it's just quiet confidence. We know what we can do and we show it on the field."

Lyons knew he didn't want to redshirt when he arrived on campus and sure enough it ‘s a virtual guarantee that his wish will be granted. Through his hard work, the humble linebacker earned the right to contribute early, and the ASU defense is better for that.

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