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ASU Football: Graham clears up cornerback situation, freshmen mindset

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Todd Graham made the picture at corner clearer on Friday

Wide receiver Ellis Jefferson finishes up a drill as Jaelen Strong, Cameron Smith and Fred Gammage wait their turn
Wide receiver Ellis Jefferson finishes up a drill as Jaelen Strong, Cameron Smith and Fred Gammage wait their turn
Nick Krueger/House of Sparky

The Sun Devils were incredibly thin at cornerback coming into fall camp with Lloyd Carrington the only true returner with any experience at the position. Carrington has had his starting spot locked down with Solomon Means getting most of the reps at the other corner spot, but true freshman Armand Perry and JUCO transfer Kweishi Brown are still both making their case to start.

"I think Armand Perry is pushing, right now Armand (Perry) is the third corner and Kweishi (Brown) is the fourth corner. I think Solomon (Means) is just a little bit ahead of them from a technique standpoint," Graham said. "All four of those guys are going to play, Kweishi's deal is just reps. He's strong, he's just never done some of the things we're trying to do."

Perry's situation has been one of the surprises of camp given his standing as a freshman, even Graham said he thought Perry would redshirt this season.

"When he came here, the work ethic he had was just impressive. He's talented," Graham said.

Graham also noted that a lot of who plays when will have to do with which player has the best matchup or skill set to cover certain wide receivers.

Freshmen mindset

If Perry does start at corner, alongside Tashon Smallwood at defensive tackle and DJ Calhoun at WILL linebacker, Graham mentioned it would be the first time he has started three freshmen on defense since 1991 when he was the coach at East Central in Oklahoma when he started "six or seven."

He said he's been working with those players to stay humble, even though they've been lauded for their play at the Division I level in fall camp. He said they need to get past the excitement and drown out all the people praising them for doing so well as just a freshman.

"Smallwood has had the best freshman camp of any freshman," Graham said. "His eyes just gleamed when I told him that and I said ‘so what, you're trying to be the best defensive tackle in America, that's what your goal should be.'"

He told Perry the same thing at corner and added that other freshmen will need to step up as well, mentioning Renell Wren, Emmanuel Dayries,Chad Adams and Christian Sam as players that won't redshirt this season.

Notes

  • The team didn't do any 11 on 11 work in the portion of practice the media was allowed to watch.
  • Graham said the team will find out next Tuesday if Marcus Ball has full medical clearance to play.
  • Graham characterized Kalen Ballage as, "ready to go." and said, "I would be more worried about Marcus than I would be about Kalen."
  • We were allowed to watch the defensive walkthrough with install. First team defense: Linemen: Marcus Hardison- Jaxon Hood-Tashon Smallwood Linebackers: D.J. Calhoun (WILL), Salamo Fiso (SAM), Laiu Moeakiola (SPUR). Edmond Boateng (DEVIL) Corners: Lloyd Carrington, Solomon Means Safeties: Damarious Randall, Marcus Ball