It's not easy to make a statement during spring practice but DJ Calhoun did just that Saturday morning, letting everyone know that he has arrived on campus. He made an emphatic hit on DJ Foster that caused a fumble and also intercepted a Taylor Kelly pass in the end zone.
"He’s as good as a freshman linebacker as I’ve been around," head coach Todd Graham said. " He’s got so much ability he can run, he’s so instinctive."
Graham stated that Calhoun, who is an early-enrollee and true freshmen is the starting WILL linebacker for the moment. Antonio Longino, who lined at SPUR linebacker alongside Calhoun also did a much better job today keeping contain on the running backs.
"We scripted for success," Graham said. "I thought the defense held their own today."
The day was also characterized by feisty and fiery play with some extra curricular pushing and shoving when the offense and defense went head to head in 11 on 11 drills.
"We scripted for conflict to see how they were going to respond," Graham said. ""We like that they're passionate but we also have to be disciplined. We're trying to create stress we're trying to create competition."
Redshirt freshman Ellis Jefferson made two very acrobatic catches and caught a touchdown pass running with the first team offense near the end of practice.
"Ellis stepped up today, I challenged Ellis, I thought he was just kind of going through the motions a little bit. He had a couple of home runs today that were nice," Graham said.
Jefferson currently sits behind Jaelen Strong at the Z wide receiver spot but also saw time today at the X position. He stands 6-foot-4 and weighs 200 pound so his make up is similar to Strong's but he could have his hands full fighting for a spot come August.
The Sun Devils might have one of the most potent wide receiving cores in the Pac-12 after signing 4-star wide receiver Jalen Harvey and the No. 3 junior college wide receiver recruit in the country in Eric Lauderdale this offseason.
"He told me to step up a while ago so I stepped up," Jefferson said. "Thursday's practice I didn't have a good practice and I needed to bounce back so that's what I did."
- Zane Gonzalez and Alex Garoutte were the first players on the field this morning for practice kicking field goals. Gonzalez made six in a row at one point with his longest make coming from 50 yards out.
- Pac-12 officials were at practice today. Graham told the media afterwords that the officials had told him that ASU would have received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for some of the shoving that went on today. "We're trying to create those teachable moments," Graham said. It was really the first day that we went live scrimmage and got everybody off the field and let them go."
- Kyle Middlebrooks, Rashad Wadood and Damarious Randall all saw time returning punts again.
- Randall and Middlebrooks also returned kicks but Ronald Lewis, Cameron Smith and DJ Foster got repetitions there as well.
- Tyler Sulka set a nice kick-out block for DJ Foster around the edge for roughly a 50-yard touchdown run which was the longest of the day.
- Christian Westerman is trending toward more repetitions at first-team left guard but is still taking the majority of his reps on the second team.
- Viliami Latu and Chans Cox were once again on the defensive front four together alongside Marcus Hardison and Mo Latu.
- ASU practiced some in-game situations today too with Edmond Boateng and Deantre Lewis seeing time with the first team down near the goal line.