Hometown/School: San Jose, Calif./Valley Christian HS
High School Résumé: One of the top running backs in California as a senior in 2008…rated the No. 42 running back in the nation by Scout.com…earned all-county and All-Bay Area honors as a senior…ran for 1,904 yards and 24 touchdowns in 2008…recorded 807 rushing yards and 11 scores as a junior…runs a 4.32 40-yard dash, bench presses 355 pounds, squats 525 and power cleans 275…chose ASU over reported offers from Arizona, California, Northwestern, Oregon, Oregon State, Texas A&M, UNLV, Utah, Utah State, Washington and Washington State.
Strengths: Excellent speed/strength combination; Earned action as a true freshman; adequate receiver.
Weaknesses: Limited college experience for a projected starter; missed some time in the spring due to injury; still improving in his pass blocking skills and general transition to the college game.
Fall Camp Outlook: Though he was in-and-out of the lineup this spring, with Marshall's high physical potential and a tremendous lack of experience among the other running backs, he'll be hard-pressed to be pushed out of the starting lineup. In terms of athletic attributes, Marshall has the making of a star with his combination of strength and speed, and he'll likely be given every early opportunity to be the featured back for the Sun Devils this season.
Last year, he saw reserve reps among a senior-heavy backfield and carried 64 times for 294 yards (4.6 avg.) with two touchdowns while adding six catches for 44 yards in 11 games with one start. With four scholarship running backs (Dimitri Nance, Shaun DeWitty, Jarrell Woods and Ryan Bass) gone from last year's team, Marshall is the only tailback on the roster to have recorded a carry at the college level and will be counted on to be a stable leader despite the fact that he enters only his second year at ASU.
Marshall's game experience provides him a definite edge, but that is not to say that talent is non-existent among the remaining depth so consistency this fall is still necessary for him to earn a substantial bulk of the carries in 2010.
Burning Question: Is Marshall prepared to be a full-time running back or will he be simply part of a rotation?
2010 Predictions: Marshall will be the team's primary back to begin the season. Depending on his consistency and the reliability of the running back depth, his productivity could be expected to be in the 600 to 700-yard range if he splits action with his teammates or in the 800 to 1,000-yard range if the contingency options are limited.
Name: James Morrison
Year: Redshirt sophomore
Hometown/School: Phoenix, Ariz./St. Mary's High School
High School Résumé: Rushed for 800 yards as a senior despite injuries that limited his contributions…carried 93 times for 518 yards and five touchdowns and added 17 receptions for 141 yards and three scores as a junior in 2006…in high school, was measured to bench 300 pounds, squat 415, power clean 245 and run a 4.6 40-yard dash…originally came to ASU as a non-scholarship player in the fall of 2008 but earned a scholarship the following semester…did not earn any scholarship offers following his prep career…considered walking on at Arizona prior to enrolling at ASU.
Strengths: Powerful rushing presence; Standout performances in practices; Work ethic; praised by coaches for his development this offseason.
Weaknesses: Limited overall game experience and no game repetitions at running back; multiple injury issues during his college career.
Fall Camp Outlook: With Cameron Marshall as the very likely starter, one of the more compelling battles this fall to watch will be how the remaining depth at running back unfolds. Due to a combination of factors, Morrison likely will compete with true freshman Deantre Lewis for second-string duties, though the two players have very different running styles. If healthy and consistent, Morrison can provide a north-and-south, between-the-tackles style that is a no-nonsense type of complement to many of the other quicker backs on the roster.
Unfortunately, Morrison has been unable to string together a significant span of healthy contributions, a key factor toward the question marks that surrounds the outlook of his sophomore season. There's no question that the talent clearly is in place, while he also boasts the status of the team's most veteran running back—despite the fact that he has appeared in only seven career games with no carries—the main curiosity entering fall camp is whether he can submit the full body of work required to solidify a high reserve spot on the depth chart.
Burning Question: Will Morrison remain healthy and play at a level of consistency to remain in the conversation for significant playing time?
2010 Predictions: Morrison will work his way into the lineup either as the second or third running back depending on the performances of those behind him in seniority. If healthy and consistent, he provides a strong change-of-pace from many of the other backs in contention for time this season. Despite his depth chart position, he will need to prove to be consistent both on the field and in terms of health in order to earn a significant amount of carries.
Name: Jamal Miles
Hometown/School: Peoria, Ariz./Peoria HS
High School Résumé: Unanimously rated as the top running back prospect in the state of Arizona for the Class of 2009…ranked by Scout.com as the No. 98 running back in the country…totaled 2,168 rushing yards and 29 touchdowns as a senior…led the state of Arizona with an average of 197.1 rushing yards-per-game in 2008…also appeared on special teams and defense…was named First-Team All-4A…ran for 1,679 yards and 38 touchdowns as a junior and 1,122 yards with 16 touchdowns as a sophomore…chose ASU over Arizona, Colorado State and Utah.
Strengths: Quickness and speed; Versatility; Ability to be a playmaker or decoy from a variety of positions; Receiving ability out of the backfield; Playing experience at running back at the high school level.
Weaknesses: Lack of size; Ability to spend ample time as a traditional running back; Ability to absorb tackles.
Fall Camp Outlook: There is little doubt that Miles will be a factor in the offense this season, the only question is the specific role he will play. In all likelihood, he will not be featured as a traditional running back, though he may very well see time in the backfield—which may result in him carrying or catching the ball or being sent in motion as a receiver.
A former star tailback at the high school level, Miles has a running back's resume, albeit he was not featured at the position during his freshman season at ASU. The Sun Devil coaching staff is very high on Miles' potential for this season and by most accounts he is expected to be a difference maker and a frequent focal point of the offense in a variety of ways—perhaps in the mold of former ASU all-purpose threat Rudy Burgess.
Burning Question: What role will Miles serve in the offense—running back, receiver or both?
2010 Prediction: Miles will line up at a variety of positions to get the ball in his hands in space and exploit his elite speed and quickness. He will likely earn rushing snaps on end-around plays and be a pass-catching threat out of the backfield and at wide receiver in screens, swing passes and other quick plays to allow him to use his agility and acceleration. He may not actually factor into the depth chart pecking order at running back, but may very well see times technically lined up at the position and may contribute to the overall rushing totals whether lined up at tailback or wide receiver.
Name: Deantre Lewis
Hometown/School: Norco, Calif./Norco HS
High School Résumé: One of the top running backs in California last season…a four-star prospect by Scout.com…also rated by Scout as the No. 22 running back in the nation and the No. 260 overall prospect…carried 237 times for 2,383 yards (10.1 avg.) with 31 touchdowns as a senior…totaled 4,669 rushing yards and 58 rushing touchdowns during his three-year varsity career…attended the same high school as 2009 Heisman Trophy runner-up Toby Gerhart of Stanford…returning Sun Devils Garth Gerhart, Kyle Johnson and Adam Tello as well as fellow true freshman Carl Bradford also attended Norco…runs a 4.37 40-yard dash…chose ASU over reported offers from Oregon, Oregon State and UTEP but committed to the Sun Devils in the summer of 2009 and did not entertain interest from additional universities beyond that point, limiting the quantity of offers he received.
Strengths: Elite level game speed and quickness; tremendously productive in a very competitive high school division; Incredible change of direction and footwork; Great acceleration and ability to distance himself from defenders.
Weaknesses: True freshman with no college experience; Played primarily in a pro-style offense at Norco and will have to adjust to ASU's spread scheme; Limited experience catching passes out of the backfield; Lacks ideal size.
Fall Camp Outlook: Though there are a number of players and storylines to watch on offense this fall for the Sun Devils, many fans—especially those "in the know" in terms of recruiting—will be eager to see Lewis hit the practice field this August. Lewis has amazing potential to be a game-changing tailback, but the upcoming session of practices will require that he use more than simply his athletic skills as his ability to comprehend the newness of college football will determine the impact he will have in 2010. If the pieces come together, Lewis can be the highest impact true freshman on either side of the ball this season.
Burning Question: Can Lewis acclimate to the college game quick enough to use his tremendous skill set right away in 2010?
2010 Predictions: The top high school offensive player that ASU signed this past February, Lewis is a near lock to avoid redshirting both because of his electric abilities and a lack of proven depth at running back. Likely the quickest full-time running back on the roster, he not only has a high talent level but a unique skill set compared to those against whom he will compete for time. Lewis has the ability to provide a dynamic presence that the running game hasn't seen since speedster Keegan Herring wrapped up his ASU career and even as a true freshman, Lewis can be a homerun threat out of the backfield.
That being said, his playing time will certainly hinge on is abilities to acclimate to the college game and to learn the nuances of what's required out of him in ASU's offense which is much different than the power running scheme he had at Norco. It would not be a shock for him to form a one-two punch with projected starter Cameron Marshall, though it's also not infeasible for him to be relegated to a lower role.
Due to a lack of proven depth, if he remains healthy and isn't a complete bust he should be no worse than third on the depth chart to begin the season. The first two games of the season—both against FCS teams—should be quite telling in terms of what to expect out of Lewis this season as if he is unable to do what is necessary to earn much time in those games, he may not substantially crack the rotation when the schedule stiffens.
Name: Marcus Washington
Hometown/School: Phoenix, Ariz./Desert Vista HS
High School Résumé: Initially signed with ASU as a member of the 2009 class but delayed his enrollment until January of 2010…split time at Desert Vista with eventual FBS athletes such as Allante Battle (ASU Track and Field), Devon Kennard (USC) and Luke Matthews (Utah)…ran 63 times for 245 yards with three touchdowns in 2008…also played defense at Desert Vista…was unanimously considered the second-best senior running back prospect in the state of Arizona behind fellow Sun Devil Jamal Miles…chose ASU over offers from Arizona, Utah and Washington State.
Strengths: Runs with power and speed; Excellent all-round athlete with a remarkable Track and Field background; versatile and capable of playing other positions.
Weaknesses: Was very limited due to injury during his high school career; was never a full-time contributor at Desert Vista.
Fall Camp Outlook: After greyshirting in 2009, Washington arrived at ASU this spring and saw practice snaps at running back. Moving forward to his first season of playing eligibility at ASU, Washington likely will begin in the top two or three running backs, however he likely will be pressed for time by members of the incoming freshman class—specifically Deantre Lewis. Having participated in spring drills creates an advantage for Washington, but he is still not guaranteed to avoid redshirting in 2010.
Burning Question: Will Washington play at a level that keeps him in the upper half of the depth chart in 2010?
2010 Predictions: Though Washington has been out of high school for over a year and participated in spring drills, he may very well still be a redshirt candidate in 2010. Still a true freshman in terms of playing eligibility, it would take a noteworthy series of performances for him to emerge higher than fourth on the running back depth chart. Additionally, injuries suffered both during and after his high school football career may contribute to his need to spend the 2010 season in a developmental mode. Beyond this season, he has the athleticism and talent to contribute at running back or other positions but the expectations for 2010 may be minimal. For depth purposes or if injuries occur, Washington may be next in line to see action after players such as Marshall, Morrison and Lewis.
Name: Taylor Walstad
Hometown/School: Chandler, Ariz./Chandler HS
High School Résumé: Unanimously rated as the top senior running back in the state of Arizona…regarded by Scout.com as the nation's No. 51 running back recruit…missed time as a senior due to injury but totaled 1,057 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns during his two-year varsity career…earned honorable mention all-region recognition as a junior despite splitting time with FBS athletes Bryce Lamb (Texas A&M Track and Field) and Markus Wheaton (Oregon State)…immediately committed to ASU when offered one year before signing day but received subsequent offers from Louisville and Northern Arizona.
Strengths: Strong inside runner; excellent work ethic and attitude; Breaks tackles and runs with purpose.
Weaknesses: Lack of breakaway speed; missed ample time as a senior and split duty as a junior creating a general lack of game experience.
Fall Camp Outlook: Entering fall camp, Walstad likely will be near the bottom of the scholarship depth chart and likely will face a tall task to work his way up this season. A talented and driven student-athlete with a tough style of running, he has the traits to be a contributor as his career progresses but his first fall camp likely will serve as a prelude to a redshirt season to develop.
Burning Question: Will Walstad factor into the lineup in 2010 or redshirt as expected?
2010 Predictions: A talented, rough runner and a budding fan favorite due to his contagious enthusiasm to be a Sun Devil, Walstad has a very bright future at ASU though it may not begin on the field until 2011. His playing style is very similar in nature to James Morrison, which could provide a small window of immediate opportunity for Walstad if Morrison is either unhealthy or drastically inconsistent as Walstad could supplant him as a sturdy inside runner. In all likelihood Walstad will redshirt in 2010, though he may find opportunities—though limited—to work his way into the mix this year.