Attack, attack, attack...and then attack some more. The Sun Devil linebackers are ready to strike.
Led by the "freak" Carl Bradford, the second-level of the Arizona State defense wreaked havoc on opposing defenses throughout last season, totaling 22 sacks and 57.5 tackles-for-loss.
The unit loses their heart and soul in Brandon Magee, but Bradford and the dynamic Chris Young return, as do several players who now have the opportunity to seize sizeable playing time. ASU also brings in a pair of talented junior college transfers in Eriquel Florence and Antonio Longino, who will compete for playing time during camp.
- RJr. Carl Bradford: 6-foot-1, 241 pounds
- Sr. Chris Young: 6-foot-0, 240
- Sr. Steffon Martin: 6-foot-1, 246
- RSr. Grandville Taylor: 6-foot, 221
- RSr. Anthony Jones: 6-foot-1, 212
- RFr. Carlos Mendoza: 6-foot-1, 219
- Sr. Kipeli Koniseti: 6-foot-2, 235
- RFr. Salamo Fiso: 6-foot, 228
- RFr. Matt Rowe: 6-foot-1, 219
- RSo. Jason Franklin: 6-foot-2, 221
- Fr. Chans Cox: 6-foot-3, 230
- Jr. Eriquel Florence: 6-foot-1, 235
- RSo. Antonio Longino: 6-foot-3, 225
- Fr. Alani Latu: 6-foot-2, 230
- Fr. Villami Latu: 6-foot-2, 230
- Brandon Magee
- Brandon Johnson
- Charles Beatty
Three of the four starters are known, but where they'll be is not completely known.
Young will be in the starting lineup, there's no question of that. But will he stay at WILL, or move back to SPUR? Regardless of where he will be, the bulked up Young figures to be a contender for all-conference honors.
At Devilbacker, Bradford is poised to make the leap into the national spotlight, and Marin should lock down the SAM spot in which he made 10 starts a year ago.
Camp Battle to Watch: Wherever Young Isn't
Young's high level of productivity now presents the coaching staff with a problem: Keep him at SPUR, where he excelled, or try him at WILL to replace Magee?
They're starting him at WILL to begin camp and hoping he stays there, but could slide back to his old spot should no one else standout there.
Returning players like Anthony Jones, Carlos Mendoza have the ability to play both spots, and senior Grandville Taylor saw time with the starters at WILL during spring. The potential battle between Mendoza and Jones at SPUR could be an entertaining affair.
Many are high on the potential of newcomer Eriquel Florence, who brings an experience blend of size (235 pounds) and speed (4.6 40). Fellow juco transfer Antonio Longino also will be a key player in the mix.
X-Factor: Carlos Mendoza
Before his injury last season, Mendoza was beginning to impress the staff with his play. Unfortunately, he's struggled to stay healthy since.
If he can remain on the practice field, Mendoza has the range and ability to fill the last linebacker spot in the starting lineup. However, thus far into his brief career, that's a big if.
Overall Situation: 3 pitchforks out of 5
With Bradford and Young, the linebackers have the equivalent of two heat-seeking missiles. That duo has shown that no matter where they line up on the field, they will find the ball in a hurry. Martin should take a big step up in his second year and lock down the SAM spot, giving ASU a nice trio.
After that, the team will need to sort through a lot of athleticism to find the best players to put on the field. Several returning options are joined by hungry newcomers, and that competition should produce a few players that will see considerable action this fall.