ASU Football: Damarious Randall continuing to embrace leadership role

Damarious Randall, pictured here against Washington last season, has used spring football to help develop his leadership skills before the start of the 2014 season. - Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Randall will lead an ASU secondary trying to replace three all-Pac-12 selections from a year ago.

Damarious Randall has never really been a team-sport kind of guy.

The redshirt senior safety grew up playing baseball, a passion that stuck with the Pensacola, Fla. native through his junior college days and one he admits is more individual-based than most.

Now, Randall is ASU football's leading returning tackler (71 total tackles in 2013) and is steadily becoming a leader in his final year in the program.

"Basically, the team is looking up to me and I'm just leading as we go," Randall said.

Randall is the only returning starter in a Sun Devil secondary that boasted first-team All-Pac-12 selections Robert Nelson and Alden Darby and second-team All-Pac-12 selection Osahon Irabor in 2013.

Secondary coach Chris Ball believes Randall is right with the three departed seniors talent-wise, noting he could be one of the top safeties in the country by the end of the 2014 season.

Ball is now is hoping the second-year transfer from Mesa Community College can match their leadership abilities.

"These guys learned a lot from that crew and taught them how to work and what they need to do every day in practice," Ball said. "I think that senior group set the tone for us."

His leadership skills have been tested throughout spring football and Randall has taken the onus with his on-field play.

"I'm more of a lead-by-example type of guy." Randall said. "If I show the team I'm willing to go out there and work hard, I want them to follow me."

Ball is starting to see glimpses from Randall, one of the few players he believes has a good handle on the defense, but is hoping to see a more consistent effort as the season approaches.

"The first year is a learning experience and he understands the defense really well," Ball said. "Now he's a veteran guy for us defensively so he's got to become a leader."

That kind of responsibility drives Randall, who has admittedly spent more time in the film room in preparation for his increased role.

"It keeps me levelheaded and makes me work every day to fulfill the goals people think I should be achieving," Randall said.

For now, Randall is making strides before Saturday's spring game at Sun Devil Stadium and the start of fall camp in early August.

If things go how Randall would like, though, he will lead the Sun Devils further than any player has before.

"I honestly think the team is going to be better than last year and I think we should be able to compete for one of the top four spots in the playoff," Randall said.

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