Player Profiles & Fall Predictions: TE's & OL

Many positions on offense may lack experience, but not talent. The tight ends and offensive line units are a prime example of that. We wrap up our offensive preview with a look at these two units.

Christopher Coyle

Year: Redshirt Freshman

Height/Weight: 6-3/235

Official ASU Bio Page

Hometown/Previous School:Westlake Village, Calif./Oaks Christian HS

High School Résumé: Rated by Scout.com as the No. 19 tight end prospect for the Class of 2009…earned a three-star ranking from Scout.com…appeared in the U.S. Army All-America game…was a key two-way player for a very successful Oaks Christian program for three years…caught 25 passes for 461 yards and eight touchdowns as a senior…was Oaks Christian's leading receiver…added 57 tackles and two sacks as a defensive end…caught 19 passes for 264 yards and four touchdowns as a junior in 2007 in addition to 60 tackles and 10 sacks…chose ASU over offers from Air Force, Army, Boise State, Duke, UCLA, Utah, UNLV, Washington and Washington State.

Fall Camp Outlook: In the spring, Coyle showed glimpses of the player that fans expect him to be—a dynamic pass catcher with reliable hands. Though his development stalled last season due to injury, there is little reason to believe he will not contribute to a noticeable extent this season. As he did in the spring, Coyle will battle Trevor Kohl for top billing at tight end throughout fall camp.

Expectations for 2010: Coyle is a player that many fans are excited to see begin his Sun Devil career. Each season since the departure of All-American Zach Miller in 2006, ASU's productivity has regressed at tight end to a nearly non-existent level last season in which the leading receiver at the position was departed senior Jovon Williams with seven receptions for 44 yards. Though Coyle likely will not provide much in terms of blocking, he has the skill set to be a reliable, consistent factor in the pass game—an element that is especially helpful with ASU ushering in a new full-time quarterback. Coyle and Kohl likely will be utilized in different situations and both should see ample action, with Coyle likely to be the more statistically productive of the two.

Burning Question: Is Coyle able to provide a viable receiving presence at tight end that has recently been missing from the Sun Devil lineup?

Steven Figueroa

Year: Redshirt Sophomore

Height/Weight: 6-4/251

Official ASU Bio Page

Hometown/Previous School:Tempe, Ariz./Desert Vista HS

High School Résumé: Rated as the top true tight end in the state of Arizona…was the first player to commit to ASU for that cycle…rated by Scout.com as the No. 28 tight end prospect in the nation and earned a three-star listing…attended the same high school as former ASU All-American and current Oakland Raider Zach Miller as well as Miller's brother and current University of Washington graduate assistant coach, Brent…was a standout thrower for Desert Vista's track team…caught 18 passes for 222 yards and four touchdowns as a senior in 2007…helped lead Desert Vista to the 5A-1 state championship game…caught 13 passes for 208 yards and three scores as a junior…chose ASU over reported offers from Colorado State, Nebraska, Oregon State, San Diego State and UNLV.

Fall Camp Outlook: With the combination of injuries and a changed emphasis on the tight end position for the Sun Devil offense, Figueroa is in need of a very strong fall camp as he enters practice significantly distanced behind Trevor Kohl, Christopher Coyle and possibly even redshirt freshman Max Smith. The position as a whole will be utilized differently than in the past, at least that is the intention and may be based on offensive line health and productivity.

Expectations for 2010: Figueroa was an intriguing prospect while at Desert Vista High and came to ASU with the expectation to be a reliable receiver and serviceable line-of-scrimmage player. Unfortunately, his development has been stunted on more than one occasion (partially due to injuries) and his opportunities to show his true skill set have been few and far between. Barring injury to Coyle or Kohl, the most likely scenario for Figueroa is to battle Smith for third on the depth chart and possibly etch a role in goal line or short yardage situations to provide an additional push, though that capacity seems to be tailored to Smith's expertise as a blocker. For Figueroa to see much action this year, he will need to submit marked advancement as a blocker and above all else remain healthy.

Burning Question: Will Figueroa be able to earn playing time this year?

Trevor Kohl

Year: Junior

Height/Weight: 6-1/248

Official ASU Bio Page

Hometown/Previous School:Gilbert, Ariz./Mesquite HS/Mesa CC

Previous School Résumé: Lettered in football and rugby at Mesquite…is the first Mesquite graduate to play at an FBS school…earned first-team all-region and honorable mention all-state recognition in 2006…caught 15 passes for 450 yards and five touchdowns as a senior…was drafted by the USA Under-20 National Rugby team in 2006.

Fall Camp Outlook: A surprise contributor in 2009, Kohl appeared in the final eight games of the season and used that experience, plus the departure of three tight ends from last year's depth chart, to emerge as the likely first-string tight end to begin fall camp. Kohl drew applause this spring for his offseason improvement and figures to join redshirt freshman Christopher Coyle as the top options at tight end this fall.

Expectations for 2010: Though he is tremendously undersized for the position, Kohl is a willing and able blocker and has improved in his receiving abilities after inconsistencies in that department in the time he earned last season. Opportunities for playing time at tight end in ASU's revamped offense likely will decrease, but Kohl's experience advantage—though he has only played in eight career games—gives him a solid chance to continue to contribute. Kohl's main calling is in blocking capacities and if ASU's offensive line sputters and/or is generally unhealthy, his role could increase to an even greater level.

Burning Question: Will Kohl remain ASU's top tight end or take a step back into more of a situational role?

Max Smith

Year: Redshirt Freshman

Height/Weight: 6-2/258

Official ASU Bio Page

Hometown/Previous School:Scottsdale, Ariz./Saguaro HS

High School Résumé: The top tight end recruit in the state of Arizona and rated by Scout.com as the No. 71 tight end prospect in the country…reported a bench press max of 365 pounds and a squat max of 525…helped guide Saguaro to three consecutive state championships…played with current Sun Devils Corey Adams, Kody Koebensky, Jordan McDonald and Max Tabach at Saguaro…caught 34 career passes for 487 yards and seven touchdowns…also collected 115 tackles and eight sacks on defense and was Saguaro's punter…earned first-team All-4A-1 honors as a senior…chose ASU over an offer from Idaho.

Fall Camp Outlook: With Kohl and Coyle established ahead of him in the pecking order at tight end, Smith finds himself in a battle with sophomore Steven Figueroa for playing time, likely in short yardage situations. In camp, Smith will need to assert himself as a potent blocker as that will likely be the trait that helps him see the field this season.

Expectations for 2010: Though he is on the outside-looking-in in terms of the expectation for ample playing time, the window of opportunity that likely will present itself—a potential role as a short yardage/goal line blocker—plays to Smith's strengths. A compact, powerful athlete, Smith may be able to carve out a niche as a blocker in his first active year as a Sun Devil.

Burning Question: What role will Smith be expected to play as a redshirt freshman?

Offensive Line

Sil Ajawara

Year: Freshman

Height/Weight: 6-4/305

Official ASU Bio Page

Hometown/Previous School:Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif./Tesoro HS High School Résumé: The top high school offensive lineman to sign with ASU this year…rated by Scout.com as a three-star recruit and the No. 22 offensive guard prospect in the country…earned second-team all-league honors as a junior…was a teammate of ASU's projected starting left tackle Evan Finkenberg at Tesoro…chose ASU over offers from Arizona, UCLA and Washington.

Fall Camp Outlook: Despite the recent retirement of Zach Schlink due to injury, ASU has several bodies at offensive guard which likely will relegate Ajawara to limited reps in camp. Though he brings a great deal of talent to Tempe and can be a very solid player moving forward, it is unlikely that he will contribute much outside of the scout team this season.

Expectations for 2010: If Ajawara sees action in 2010, that likely means bad news for the overall health and quality of the Sun Devil offensive line. Many options exist at guard that should enable him to maintain his redshirt year and develop physically and technically for future use.

Burning Question: Will health issues on the offensive line propel Ajawara into action as a true freshman?

Chris De Armas

Year: Junior

Height/Weight: 6-4/292

Official ASU Bio Page

Hometown/Previous School:Miami, Fla./Southwest Miami HS/El Camino JC

Previous School Résumé: Originally signed with South Florida out of high school before attending El Camino JC…was rated as the No. 71 offensive guard prospect in the nation by Scout.com as a senior…played multiple positions along the offensive line at the junior college level…earned a three-star rating from Scout.com last season…chose ASU over offers from Florida International, Memphis, Nevada and South Florida.

Fall Camp Outlook: A midyear transfer this past January, De Armas was listed as the third right guard after spring drills, though with the unavailability of Zach Schlink, he may move to the second team behind Adam Tello or perhaps he will maintain the third string status if tackle Brice Schwab moves to the guard spot. In any event, De Armas likely has his work cut out for him to earn much time in the lineup this season.

Expectations for 2010: Most likely a career reserve unless injuries propel him into the starting lineup, what De Armas lacks in pure talent he may make up for with versatility, as he can add depth to all three interior line spots if needed and can be an emergency tackle as well. In 2010, his role likely will be limited if the starters are healthy and perform acceptably, but he does provide adequate depth having earned ample playing time at the junior college level.

Burning Question: Will De Armas be much of a factor in 2010 or simply a depth chart role player?

Jamil Douglas

Year: Freshman

Height/Weight: 6-5/252

Official ASU Bio Page

Hometown/Previous School:Cypress, Calif./Cypress HS

High School Résumé: Rated by Scout.com as the No. 65 offensive tackle prospect in the nation…very athletic, also played tight end and H-back…de-committed from Utah to attend ASU and also had offers from Nebraska and San Diego State.

Fall Camp Outlook: Douglas is very athletic and has an awfully high ceiling as an agile left tackle, however much like Evan Finkenberg before him, Douglas will have to use his redshirt season both to learn the nuances of the offensive line as well as add 30 to 40 pounds. With players such as Brice Schwab and Kyle Johnson able to play left tackle in a pinch if Finkenberg is unavailable, Douglas will likely be held out of game action this year.

Expectations for 2010: Though nothing is ever certain with ASU's offensive line, the most likely scenario is that Douglas redshirts to grow—both physically and mentally—and evolve into a dynamic lineman down the road.

Burning Question: If Evan Finkenberg were to suffer an injury, would that propel Douglas into game action or would other players switch positions?

Evan Finkenberg Year: Redshirt Freshman

Height/Weight: 6-6/290

Official ASU Bio Page

Hometown/High School: Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif./Tesoro HS

High School Résumé: Began his high school career at tight end and grew into an offensive lineman…also a star pitcher for Tesoro's baseball team…was rated by Scout.com as the No. 125 offensive tackle prospect in the nation…emerged as a legitimate FBS player as a senior…chose ASU over an offer from Washington State.

Fall Camp Outlook: After a very strong showing in the spring, Finkenberg enters fall camp as the first-string left tackle. Though he lacks experience at the college level, his combination of athleticism and size makes him a very formidable option, but he will need to play at a high level prior to the start of the season to keep the coaching staff's confidence.

Expectations for 2010: Finkenberg's evolution since arriving at ASU has gone exactly according to plan—he gained approximately 30 pounds in his first year and escalated to the top of the depth chart at left tackle. However, that development could hit a brick wall if he stumbles in the early stages when live action begins. The starting gig at left tackle is Finkenberg's to lose, but that doesn't mean that inadequate play will allow him to remain in the starting lineup.

Burning Question: Is Finkenberg developed to the point of being a solid, consistent blind side tackle?

Garth Gerhart

Year: Redshirt Junior

Height/Weight: 6-1/305

Official ASU Bio Page

Hometown/High School: Norco, Calif./Norco HS

High School Résumé: The brother of last year's Heisman Trophy runner-up and one of California's top offensive linemen during his high school career…joined ASU teammate Adam Tello on Norco's line…rated as the No. 7 center in the nation by Scout.com for the Class of 2007…de-committed from Colorado to attend ASU and chose the Sun Devils over offers from Boise State, Boston College, Colorado State, Hawaii and Utah.

Fall Camp Outlook: Unquestionably the starting center and likely the most reliable offensive lineman, Gerhart has the most secure starting spot of any of ASU's linemen.

Expectations for 2010: Especially with the season-ending injury to guard Jon Hargis, Gerhart will need to assume a leadership role as he is ASU's most seasoned lineman. A flexible, capable blocker, Gerhart has seen time at both guard and center during his first two seasons at ASU. In order for the Sun Devil line to be consistent in 2010, Gerhart will need to be at the center of things—literally and figuratively—as the anchor of the Devils' line. He will also need to avoid injury because the depth at center is tremendously thin, with Andrew Sampson—who moved from guard this offseason—as the only scholarship reserve slated at center behind Gerhart.

Burning Question: Can Gerhart remain healthy and consistent for the entire season?

Matt Hustad

Year: Redshirt Junior

Height/Weight: 6-5/292

Official ASU Bio Page

Hometown/High School: Helena, Mont./Capital HS

High School Résumé: The 2006-07 Gatorade State Player of the Year in Montana and was recognized by Sports Illustrated as the top high school football player in the state…also starred on the defensive line for Capital High…de-committed from Montana to attend ASU and also had an offer from Idaho.

Fall Camp Outlook: Though health has always been a concern for Hustad since arriving at ASU, he is expected to enter fall camp with the full ability to practice. Due to the injury suffered by Jon Hargis in the spring, Hustad has been moved from right tackle to left guard and will be counted on to be a leading contributor this season.

Expectations for 2010: The first and foremost request is that Hustad remain on the field and away from the infirmary—that would be a good start. Since he first set foot on campus, he has been a highly intriguing prospect and a potential standout offensive lineman, but multiple injuries have thrashed his development. If healthy in 2010, Hustad could be a consistent force at guard, but the main concern is that he is able to play at full speed without succumbing to further health concerns.

Burning Question: Will Hustad be able to avoid injuries through the full season?

Dan Knapp

Year: Redshirt Junior

Height/Weight: 6-5/258

Official ASU Bio Page

Hometown/High School: Reno, Nev./Reno HS

High School Résumé: Regarded as the top tight end in the state of Nevada as a senior in 2006…named to Scout.com's All-Nevada Team…caught 45 passes for 750 yards and 10 touchdowns during his high school career…chose ASU over offers from Boise State, Fresno State, Idaho, Nevada and Oregon.

Fall Camp Outlook: A converted tight end, Knapp will practice this fall at right tackle. Though it is tough to imagine that the transition could be immediate, due to the fact that he wasn't relocated until after spring drills, Coach Erickson mentioned at Pac-10 Media Day that Knapp has grown and progressed to the point of being in the conversation for first-string reps. Each day of practice will be crucial for his development and Knapp's performances will be closely watched this fall.

Expectations for 2010: A capable blocker at tight end, Knapp has the ferocity and work ethic to be a factor at offensive tackle. The initial concern was adding size to be able to compete with defensive linemen on every play, but that process seems to be progressing—according to Erickson, Knapp's weight is closer to 280 though no official changes have been made on ASU's current roster. If Brice Schwab is moved to guard, Knapp could be the top candidate to start at right tackle, however the debate is whether that would be the sign of good or bad things.

Burning Question: Will Knapp's transition to offensive tackle be smooth enough for him to contribute this year?

Kyle Johnson

Year: Redshirt Sophomore

Height/Weight: 6-7/292

Official ASU Bio Page

Hometown/High School: Norco, Calif./Norco HS

High School Résumé: Rated by Scout.com as the No. 69 offensive tackle prospect in the nation as a senior in 2007…one of several Norco alumni to sign with ASU since Dennis Erickson's arrival…listed by Scout.com as the No. 92 overall prospect in the state of California…chose ASU over offers from Colorado, Oregon State and San Diego State.

Fall Camp Outlook: After moving from left tackle to the right side, Johnson is in a position to be either second or third string at that spot—depending on what happens with Brice Schwab. Johnson saw very limited time in two games as a redshirt freshman last season, but showed signs of improvement this spring.

Expectations for 2010: In all likelihood, Johnson's role won't grow by leaps and bounds compared to what he submitted as a freshman in 2009. With players such as Dan Knapp and Aderious Simmons in competition for time at tackle, Johnson will need a string of surprise performances to work his way into legitimate action this year.

Burning Question: Will Johnson's role increase as a sophomore?

Kody Kobensky

Year: Redshirt Freshman

Height/Weight: 6-4/303

Official ASU Bio Page

Hometown/High School: Scottsdale, Ariz./Saguaro HS

High School Résumé: Earned All-Arizona honors as a senior, helping lead Saguaro to three consecutive state titles…rated as the No. 86 offensive tackle prospect in the nation by Scout.com and earned a three-star ranking…chose ASU over offers from Air Force, Arizona, Idaho, San Diego State, Utah and Washington State.

Fall Camp Outlook: Kobensky exited spring drills as one of the top backups at left guard, however with the return of Mike Marcisz to the lineup he will have stiff competition to earn much time this season. He showed advances this spring compared to his performances last fall, and he will need to continue to improve to work his way into the game day lineup.

Expectations for 2010: Likely to be the third-string left guard; Koebensky will primarily add depth or enter the lineup in the event of an emergency. He may see scarce action as a redshirt freshman, but in all likelihood he is a year or more from being a notable contributor.

Burning Question: Will Kobensky see much of the field as a redshirt freshman?

Mike Marcisz

Year: Redshirt Junior

Height/Weight: 6-5/304

Official ASU Bio Page

Hometown/High School: Livermore, Calif./Granada HS

High School Résumé: Rated by Scout.com as the No. 78 offensive lineman in the country as a senior in 2006…earned all-league honors and was the team MVP as a senior, playing on both sides of the line…chose ASU over an offer from Fresno State.

Fall Camp Outlook: Marcisz showed some notable talent early last season, but that was extinguished after a season-ending injury suffered in only the third contest of the year which also kept him out of action during spring drills. For him, talent isn't as much of a concern as is staying healthy and returning to playing condition after roughly 10 months away from games and practices. If he can return to form quickly, he'll likely be one of ASU's most capable reserves and can play multiple line positions.

Expectations for 2010: As is the case with many of ASU's linemen, with Marcisz the buck stops at his health issue before addressing curiosities about his talent. If he can remain on the field, he will add serviceable depth to the lineup but the early stages of camp will determine how rusty he is from his time away.

Burning Question: How will Marcisz rebound from last season's injury?

Andrew Sampson

Year: Redshirt Sophomore

Height/Weight: 6-3/300

Official ASU Bio Page

Hometown/High School: Aurora, Colo./Overland HS

High School Résumé: Rated by Scout.com as the No. 33 offensive guard prospect in the country for the Class of 2008…played in the 2008 Offense-Defense All-American Bowl…chose ASU over offers from Colorado State and Washington.

Fall Camp Outlook: Listed as the backup to Garth Gerhart at center, Sampson is second string because of need more so than achievement. He has the physicality and power to be a bullish lineman, but needs to compile the total package to be a reliable performer. With so few options at center, there likely is no one to take his spot as Gerhart's top contingent, but he would stand to benefit significantly if he performs more consistently than he has.

Expectations for 2010: After seeing time last season at guard, with the graduation of Thomas Altieri, Sampson becomes ASU's top reserve at center. It would put many Sun Devil fans at ease if Sampson elevates his level of play in fall camp to provide a healthy option if Gerhart were to go down.

Burning Question: Is Sampson ready to contribute at center or is more time for development needed?

Brice Schwab Year: Junior

Height/Weight: 6-7/345

Official ASU Bio Page

Hometown/Previous School:West Sunbury, Penn./Moniteau HS/Palomar JC

Previous School Résumé: Widely regarded as one of the nation's top junior college offensive linemen…earned a four-star ranking from Scout.com…was named all-state and all-league as a sophomore in 2009…de-committed from USC to attend ASU and also had offers from Arizona, Arkansas, Florida State, LSU, Oklahoma, Penn State, Pittsburgh, South Florida, UCLA and Washington.

Fall Camp Outlook: Even if Schwab wasn't the largest player on the roster, he still would stand out among all his teammates this fall because with the exception of the quarterback position, Schwab will be watched closer than anyone on offense. After his de-commitment from USC, Schwab was exalted as finally being the solution at left tackle after slotting multiple players out-of-position to play the role in several consecutive seasons. However, due mainly to disappointing athleticism as well as the solid play by Evan Finkenberg, Schwab was moved to right tackle—in his defense, the position at which he played his whole junior college career.

As the offseason continued to unfold, it has been speculated that Schwab's true assignment will be at right guard, prompting the Sun Devil faithful to question whether that is because of an inability for Schwab to play tackle or the level of talent provided by the options at tackle. Fall camp will be a vital proving ground for Schwab as he came to campus this January with a laundry list of accolades and expectations and unfortunately the only result thus is concern because of continuous shuffling of positions.

Expectations for 2010: Though Schwab is a virtual lock to start this year, it is uncertain what his true role will be. It is not fair at this point to condemn him as a disappointment before he ever plays a live snap at ASU, but it is the hope of all Sun Devil followers that he has used his time since spring drills wisely and asserts himself to being the dominant lineman he can potentially be. If he lines up at right tackle, expect Matt Hustad and Adam Tello to be the main guards, but if he is pushed to guard, the likely candidate to emerge as the starting right tackle is Dan Knapp.

Burning Question: Will Schwab play tackle or guard and will he live up to the lofty expectations that followed him to Tempe?

Aderious Simmons

Year: Redshirt Junior

Height/Weight: 6-7/310

Official ASU Bio Page

Hometown/Previous School:Marrero, La./Ehret HS/El Camino JC

Previous School Résumé: Did not play high school football and was a basketball player at Ehret High…played at Pasadena (Calif.) City College in 2008 and El Camino in 2009…has played both tackle spots at the junior college level…was a teammate of fellow Sun Devil Chris De Armas last year…chose ASU over offers from San Diego State and Utah.

Fall Camp Outlook: Simmons' expectations must be prefaced by the fact that he has yet to gain full academic eligibility and may be held out for parts of or the entirety of fall camp. If eligible, Simmons brings tremendous athleticism to the lineup, though he is a raw player with a tremendous lack of experience. If he misses much time due to his eligibility issue, he could perhaps suffer somewhat of a ‘Victor Rudd Effect' in that his season could be dramatically impacted by missing a few weeks of training camp.

Expectations for 2010: If he is eligible and able to catch on quickly, Simmons could rival Evan Finkenberg for time at left tackle or at least serve as a quality backup at either tackle position. Depth at both spots is tremendously scarce, so it goes without saying that Simmons' eligibility and on-field progress may prove vital to the overall quality of ASU's offensive line. Unfortunately, he does not have a redshirt season available so if he does earn academic clearance he will need to hit the ground running in a major way.

Burning Question: How will Simmons' eligibility issue play out and how will that affect his season?

Tyler Sulka

Year: Freshman

Height/Weight: 6-5/270

Official ASU Bio Page

Hometown/High School: Sherman Oaks, Calif./Notre Dame HS

High School Résumé: A solid right tackle for a top-quality program…rated as the No. 117 offensive tackle prospect in the nation by Scout.com…earned all-region and all-league honors as a senior…chose ASU over offers from San Diego State and UNLV.

Fall Camp Outlook: Despite question marks at offensive tackle, it would take a rash of injuries for Sulka to be anywhere near the conversation for playing time this season. Likely a right tackle, Sulka will begin at the low end of the depth chart when camp kicks off.

Expectations for 2010: Almost assured to redshirt, Sulka will be well-served to use every experience he gets on the scout team this year to assist his development.

Burning Question: Will Sulka advance enough this season to be a legitimate reserve in the future?

Adam Tello

Year: Redshirt Junior

Height/Weight: 6-3/290

Official ASU Bio Page

Hometown/High School: Norco, Calif./Norco HS

High School Résumé: One of California's top offensive linemen as a senior in 2006…was listed by Scout.com as the No. 36 offensive guard prospect in the nation…was a teammate of fellow Sun Devils Garth Gerhart and Kyle Johnson at Norco…de-committed from Colorado to attend ASU and also had offers from Arizona, Hawaii and Louisville.

Fall Camp Outlook: After an unsuccessful run at right tackle in 2008 and a year marred by injury in 2009, Tello returns to the lineup this fall as a potential starter at right guard. With the recent retirement of guard Zach Schlink, Tello will either be the top option at his position or battle Brice Schwab for time, depending on what the coaching staff does with Schwab. Tello has drawn praise from the coaches for his toughness and development and by most accounts, he will factor into the offensive line's collective performance this season.

Expectations for 2010: Tello is one of the team's most mysterious players in that he is often praised by the coaches but hasn't shown much on the field, though last season it was injuries and not inefficient play that limited him. What is known is that Tello is not a tackle, but he is predicted to be a solid guard. He may be given the early opportunity to start and depending on his performance he may be able to vindicate himself after a rough ride in four games as a starting tackle to start the 2008 season.

Burning Question: Is Tello capable of being a reliable starter?


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