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ASU Football: New depth chart released, five walk-ons awarded scholarships

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There was plenty of news Wednesday night

Five walk-ons sign their scholarship papers at a team meeting Wednesday
Five walk-ons sign their scholarship papers at a team meeting Wednesday
@AndrewASUFB (Andrew Dollak/Twitter)

It's never easy being a walk-on football player at the Division I level. There are very few who get to see meaningful minutes on the field and even fewer who earn a scholarship over the course of their college career, that is if they decide to stay on the team.

On Wednesday, Arizona State head coach Todd Graham awarded walk-ons Jordan Simone, Fred Gammage, Chip Sarafin, Brandon Matthews, and Jason Franklin with scholarships during a team meeting.

" We talk to our guys about investment," Graham said. "What's interesting is that most walk-ons quit after six months and then there is the next group that quits after three years. I don't know if they run out of money or what, but the guys that have stayed on my team, we can't think of any that have stayed their entire career that haven't earned a scholarship."

Graham, according to players, walked into the team meeting with a red folder in hand with cameras set up in the room. Graham began to talk about character and players that work hard everyday, and then he said they were giving out scholarships but didn't say how many.

"My heart started beating and then he says, 'Jordan Simone you're getting a scholarship today'," Simone said. "I broke down, it has been a long journey...it's unbelievable, I'm just so thankful to my coaches and teammates."

Simone played one year at Washington State and then transferred to Arizona State and was on the scout team last year as a redshirt sophomore. Graham mentioned that players that were already on scholarship had gone up to him and thanked him afterwords because they all believed that those players deserved to be on scholarship.

Fred Gammage walked-on to the team in 2012 and redshirted. Last season he caught six passes for 32 yards. He also prepped locally at Brophy.

"I just broke down, I was ecstatic," Gammage said. "I'm more happy for my family because I'm going to be able to get them out of a huge struggle that they've been in."

Sarafin is a redshirt senior offensive lineman who is now in his fifth season on the team and is also a local player out of Highland High School in Gilbert, Arizona. Sarafin knew something was up just by looking at the schedule but wasn't sure what was happening.

"I've been here long enough to know we usually don't have a team meeting in the middle of the day, I thought maybe he's canceling the practice tonight" Sarafin said. "But I was greatly surprised, I was awed, that was really something."

Perhaps the best story came from linebackers Jason Franklin and Brandon Matthews. Franklin is headed into his redshirt junior season and Matthews, who graduated from Mountain View in Mesa, Arizona, will be a redshirt freshman this season.

According to Franklin, his parents couldn't contain themselves.

"My dad was in San Antonio in a Wal-Mart and he was just bawling in one of the aisles, he's like 'everyone is looking at me all weird'." Franklin said. " And my mom was back in California in a mall and had to run out of the store she was in."

Neither Franklin nor Matthews had any idea it was coming.

"I sat there and my eyes were this big," Matthews said.

"I'm just sitting there trying to have a moment of silence like 'oh my gosh' and the next thing you know you've got 100 guys dog-piling me and Brandon like we just won the Super Bowl," Franklin said.

Depth chart released

Most of the depth chart was as expected but there were a few surprises. These are just names on a page and are still subject to change within the next week.

  • De'Marieya Nelson and Kody Kohl tied at the tight end spot, but both could see time on the field this season at the same time with one at H-back and the other in the slot.
  • Jaxon Hood could have the starting nose or tiger spot locked up within the next week. Whichever spot he doesn't get should be Smallwood's position and he's capable of playing either.
  • The biggest thing that jumped out was Edmond Boateng at starting Devilbacker alongside Nelson after just one day at the position. It shows that Graham has a lot of faith in him there for the moment, but Longino should still get his fair share of reps if he rises to the occasion.
  • Three true freshmen on the three-deep at WILL linebacker shows how inexperienced this defense is too.
  • Marcus Ball got the nod at field safety after just a few days of work there, James Johnson will back him up and Simone was relegated to second string despite a solid effort at Camp Tontozona.
  • Solomon Means gets the first look at field corner but the team might give Tyler Whiley, Armand Perry and Kwieshi Brown a chance early in the season.
  • Graham said Wednesday night that Taylor Kelly, Damarious Randall, Jamil Douglas and De'Marieya Nelson have been named this season's team captains.