Camaraderie serves Lyons, LB's well

In life, and especially in sports, chemistry and familiarity are huge keys to success. That's why we're encouraged to interact with fellow employees, create study groups in preparation for tests, and for collegiate athletes, room with teammates.

It's rare when the forced interaction develops into genuine friendship, and in the case of Sun Devil linebackers Shelly Lyons, Vontaze Burfict and Brandon Magee, that friendship on and off the field has created a force to be reckoned with on the defensive side of the ball.

With all three coming to Tempe from Centennial High School in Corona, the linebackers have developed an on-field chemistry that has the Sun Devil defense in a position to be one of the top units not only in the Pac-10, but in the nation.

"It's crazy," junior linebacker Shelly Lyons said. "Playing with them again, playing with them in high school for four years and making the transition here to college, it's crazy looking over there and seeing them. We know each other very well on and off the field so we know how to complement each other.

"Our chemistry is great. We can communicate, ask each other questions, and off the field watch film because we live together too. On the field we know how each other plays; we've been playing with each other for six years now so we know each other very well so it helps."

Lyons and Magee came to Tempe together two years ago and instantly brought speed and athleticism to the linebacking corps, which now has become one of the fastest groups in the country. After one year at ASU, they were joined by former teammate and the highest rated prospect to ever commit to the Sun Devils, Vontaze Burfict.

Burfict impressed immediately last season for the Sun Devils and while earning pre-season All-American honors for this season has had to fight his way back to the first unit after a tough summer and Lyons is glad to have his long-time friend back next to him on the field.

"He was alright with it (the demotion) because he knew he had to work his way back up because of what happened in the offseason," Lyons stated. "I really don't know the situation so I don't really know what happened, but he dealt with it alright. He knew that if he came in played hard, ran to the ball every play and gave effort that he could work his way back up to the first team, which is what he did, so at first he was a little upset like anyone would be, but he understood that he had to work his way back up because he was demoted to the second team in the offseason."

With his friends back on the field with him and a tough 4-8 season last year that still lingers on his mind, Lyons has high hopes for this stout defensive unit.

"It's fun to play on this defense because we're fast, really fast," Lyons acknowledged, "and we're trying to develop this swag that we have going because we feel that we could be the best team not only in the conference, but in the nation so it's fun playing with the ten other guys out there.

"We feel like we're a step faster than we were last year. Last year's players that are gone like Nixon and Goethel and Dexter Davis knew the system down to a tee, so they were in the right spots at the right time all the time, and we're just trying to get to that level with understanding formations and situations and tendencies like they did and hopefully we can do what we did last year."

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