It's important for every player to have the skills on the field, but if it doesn't translate between the ears as well, it can severely limit their development. This is especially true in the younger players. Head coach Todd Graham places a large emphasis on how the players learn and adapt off the field.
"It's all about mental maturity," Graham said Friday night after the newcomers practice. "We don’t want to have a great attitude, we want to have the best attitude in the country."
That attitude is one that has each player believing that Arizona State can win a national championship in 2015, or what Graham called an "NC 15" attitude. Although Graham liked the attitude the freshman and transfers had, he was still very impressed with their on field performance as well.
"They don't know anything but running onto the field. I was really impressed," Graham said. "What I liked too is that we strained the heck out of them and they're asking good questions and they're smart learners."
Graham also took the opportunity to take a step back and look at the way the Sun Devils have brought in talent over the past year for their 2014 recruiting class.
"It was really really encouraging, " Graham said. "I think we did a great job recruiting, that freshman class did a great job today."
It won't be too much longer before the younger players are thrown in with the veterans for the first time in full pads on Sunday.
"Day three will be very different for them, it's going to feel like they're going 100 mph," Graham said. "We'll see how quick they transition but I have a lot of confidence that they will."
- Eriquel Florence was dressed Friday night, practicing with the newcomers.
- Of the portion of practice the media was able to watch, Manny Wilkins and Coltin Gerhart each got one series of 11-0 leading the offense down the field. Kalen Ballage got a majority of the snaps in the backfield.
- Graham named Tyler Whiley, Kalen Ballage, Jalen Harvey and Demario Richard as guys that caught his eye on offense. Defensively he named DJ Calhoun, Christian Sam, Chad Adams and Armand Perry.
- Graham pointed out that a lot of the young defensive linemen in the newcomers group will be on the two-deep depth chart
- Graham: "I really like this group and the synergy of our football team."
- Graham was visibly tired tonight as practice didn't end until 8:30 p.m. The veterans practice started at 8:40 a.m. this morning and I'm sure he was up well before that. "I really hate our schedule, we gotta do a lot of coaching, it's a little tough on the old man," Graham said.
- Talked to Manny Wilkins after practice: "I'm going to prepare like I'm going to be the starting quarterback on this football team," he said. "If it comes down to it I want to know that I have the ability to lead this team to a national championship."