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ASU Football: Hayes drawing upon Foster’s experience in hybrid role

(Photo: Scotty Bara/WCSN)

ASU moved back into the Dickey Dome for practice Friday morning, but nothing strayed from the ordinary in terms of what was available to the media.

After watching the team stretch and positional group sessions, everyone got together and gave the only glimpse of 11-on-11 that we have been able to see—the two-minute offense.

That being said, it’s the last Friday practice before the first game week of the season, and senior captain DJ Foster says the preparation needs to continue.

“Just keep on preparing ourselves,” Foster said. “At the end of the day we’ve just got to stay together as a family and go into this game as one unit.”

Two-Minute Drill

Friday’s session implemented crowd noise over the loudspeakers, so the picture boards were brought out on the sidelines to call the plays for the defense.

Up until they were stopped at the goal line, the offense moved down the field with ease. Redshirt senior quarterback Mike Bercovici completed two passes on the sideline to redshirt sophomore Ellis Jefferson, as well as a big gain on a wheel route to senior wide receiver DJ Foster.

Once in the red zone, Hayes and redshirt senior wide receiver Gary Chambers each dropped passes on slant routes that both would’ve gone for scores. Bercovici also tried going high to Jefferson in the corner of the end zone, but the pass was broken up by senior defensive back Kweishi Brown.

There was nothing surprising personnel-wise, but sophomore running back/linebacker Kalen Ballage, freshman defensive lineman Jojo Wicker, and sophomore linebacker DJ Calhoun entered as defensive substitutes once the offense was in the red zone.

Hayes Transition to Wide Receiver

As one of the highest recruited junior college prospects in the country in 2013, redshirt junior De’Chavon “Gump” Hayes decided to commit to ASU in December of 2013 to add depth to an already talented backfield.

After redshirting his first year as a Sun Devil, Hayes can be found in a new domain, following senior DJ Foster out wide to catch passes instead of having them handed to him.

“It’s more of just trying to get these dynamic players in open space and just make plays, and just put the team in position to win ball games.” Hayes said.

Foster said that although he’s set in stone as a wide receiver this year, Hayes is taking on the role of playing Foster’s old position.

“I’m definitely more of a receiver,” Foster said. “But he’s a running back that will play receiver.”

A season ago, Foster was second on the team in receptions and receiving yards. With Gump looking to fill his shoes, Foster has plenty of experience and success to help his teammate adapt.

“The position that Gump is at, he’s kind of what I have been doing the last three years,” Foster said. “I’ve tried to give him all the advice I can in just what I have learned the last three years… We definitely bounce ideas off each other and just try to help each other.”

An increase in workload as well as familiarity with the playbook comes with the positional change, but Hayes feels that adapting hasn’t been too big of an issue.

“I’ve adapted pretty good,” Hayes said. “My struggle coming in was trying to learn running back plays as well as receiver, but as I came in and really focused and really put time into it, I really started to get mentally focused where I learn my routes, know when to break, learn certain plays, so I’ve really transitioned into that position well.”

Hayes played receiver in high school as well as junior college before coming to ASU, so there’s no surprise that the alteration has come easy for him. He believes he can play the position at a high level, and his skillset has not gone unnoticed.

“He’s got speed,” Foster said. “He’s got top-end speed and he’s got great hands, he also has this toughness to be in the backfield and run between the tackles. Coach Norvell does a great job of moving him around.”

Practice Notes

-Redshirt junior wide receiver Tim White was still in a green jersey. Last word on him was that he is questionable for Texas A&M.

-Coach Graham did not speak after practice.

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