Elder catching on quickly

JC transfers, especially mid-year ones like Eddie Elder, are expected to perform well in spring practice. The San Mateo safety is doing exactly that after one week of those sessions and is part of what has been a surprisingly strong secondary. Devils Digest caught up with Elder to talk about his adjustment to the Sun Devils and their defensive scheme and the competition at safety.

The 5-10 186 Eddie Elder has played larger than his size in the first few spring practices. While battling to unseat starter Keelan Johnson, who is having a very strong spring of his own, the junior college transfer is displaying a lot of quickness, good closing speed and ball hawking techniques.

Elder admitted that he is still in the adjustment phase.

"You have to get used to the fact that you're playing against faster and stronger players than you did at the JC level," said Elder. "It makes you think more about the way you play. I'm managing so far but I know I still have a long way to go."

As a newcomer trying to fit in with the reigning top defense in the Pac-10, Elder isn't intimated by the abundance of talent around him and relishes playing for a unit that is displaying a lot of swagger these days.

"It's a defense that always puts you in a spot to make good plays," stated Elder. "If we keep on making those plays like we did last year we'll be the top defense again. There is a lot of competition on defense and that's what makes you a good player."

Even the change in scheme from his San Mateo days hasn't affected him much.

"I've been in a 3-4 scheme for most of my life so playing now in a 4-3 is a little different," confessed Elder. "But I don't feel like it's really complicated. In this scheme the safeties do more read and react but still stay aggressive."

On the other hand the offensive pace he is facing these days is something that he has been accustomed to very well in the last couple of years.

"My junior college team actually ran a no huddle all the time so this isn't different at all," commented Elder. "But it's obviously also still faster on this level and you have to make sure being in coverage that you always catch your wind or you will be gassing later."

The former JC All-American posted 70 tackles, seven interceptions and four forced fumbles in his sophomore season. This followed a freshman year where he collected 49 tackles, seven interceptions and two sacks.

"I have good anticipation and I am aggressive," said Elder of his skills, "but I know I need to be patient to because this is a new defense to me. I need to work on man to man skills and catching the ball."

There is certainly not much experience at the safety position, but Elder still acknowledges that the returning players still have the leg up on a newcomer like himself when it comes to familiarity of the defense.

"I'm still gonna fight for a spot and just contribute any way I can to the team," said Elder. "Of course I want to have a starting spot, but I always want to help my team any way possible whether I'm starting or not. Everybody is practicing hard trying to get a starting spot. That's what spring ball is all about. We are all out here to help the team win championships."

"If I keep on improving I know I'll get more chances."


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