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ASU Spring Football: Sam, Calhoun looking to lead linebacking core

(Photo: Blaine McCormick/WCSN)

Arizona State was back on the gridiron Monday morning as the 10th spring football practice continued at Kajikawa Practice Fields in Tempe, Arizona. The media had access to the practice for a half and hour and the players participated in individual-release drills, stretching, tempo and ball security. Manny Wilkins, who has been practicing at the starter quarter back position, did not see any first or second team reps during tempo drills.

ASU is in the process of rebuilding the defense, and linebackers will be essential to the rebuild.

In the pursuit of becoming an elite defense in the Pac-12, the Sun Devils hired Phil Bennett, a former coach and defensive coordinator at eight colleges.

Last season, ASU struggled with injuries, missed tackles and blown coverages.

The struggles were directly connected to the absence of linebacker of Christian Sam. In the first quarter of the Sun Devils first game, Sam suffered a season ending ankle injury.

The junior linebacker has been is healthy and has been participating in all the drills during spring practices.

“I’m feeling great,” Sam Said. “The Lord blessed me and was able to get me back and I’m thankful for that. I’m feeling great and I’m back with my brothers, so it’s fun.”

After being sidelined for the entire season, Sam is anxious to help the defense improve and has been working hard at spring practices.

“I just have to pick up where I left off last year before I got hurt, ” Sam said. “The season is coming up and it feels like it’s been a day. It’s great to be back out here and I just can not wait.”

Even though the defense had a rough year D.J. Calhoun was the bright spot for the defense. The senior backer accumulated 60 solo tackles, 11 tackles for a lost and four and half sacks.

Through 10 spring practices Calhoun mentioned he is confident in his team’s ability this season.

“We still have a lot to learn and improve but I think in general our team is going to be nice this year,” Calhoun said.

 With the coach staff change, Calhoun has not found it difficult to become accumulated with the new plays.

 Practice Sightings

Players in green: (non –contact jerseys)

  • (QB) Bryce Perkins
  • (S) Marcus Ball
  • (RB) Kalen Ballage
  • (WR) N’keal Harry
  • (CB) Kareem Orr
  • (OL) Cade Cote
  • (WR) Terrell Chatman

All players participated in individual drills.

Players sidelined due to injury:

  • (DL) Jalen Bates
  • (RB) Eno Benjamin
  • (LB) Drew McIntyre
  • (WR) Cameron Smith

Players did light exercises on the sideline, including riding the exercise bike and working with resistance bands.

First team reps Offense:

  • (QB) Blake Barnett
  • (RB) Kalen Ballage
  • (WRs) N’keal Harry, Jalen Harvey, John Humphrey
  • (TE) Jay Jay Wilson
  • (LT) Cohl Cabral
  • (LG) Steven Miller
  • (C) Tyler McClure
  • (RG) Sam Jones
  • (RT) Quinn Bailey

First team reps Defense

  • (DL) Koron Crump
  • (NT) George Lea, Jordan Hoyt
  • (DT) Tashon Smallwood
  • (DE) JoJo Wicker
  • (LBs) Christian Sam, DJ Calhoun
  • (DBs) Kareem Orr, Chase Lucas, J’Marcus Rhodes, Chad Adams, Ty Thomas

Next practice is set to place on March 5, at Kajikawa Practice Fields in Tempe, Arizona.

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