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ASU Football Season Awards: Demario Richard is our 2015 Offensive Player of the Year

It's been difficult to decide, but we finally settled in on an offensive MVP for the 2015 Sun Devils squad.

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

This is the first part in our postseason series wrapping up the ASU football season. We will handing out awards and and evaluating each position in the coming weeks.

Coming into the season, the Sun Devils offense figured to be one of the most exciting and explosive units in all of college football. With two chic Heisman candidates leading the way, many expected ASU to do what has become a penchant of its offensive style of play—score plenty of points.

While that wasn't the case on a consistent basis in 2015, there were some bright spots to highlight and celebrate.

Below, we name our Offensive Player of the Year, along with those up for consideration in what was a close race amongst our staff.

Offensive Player of the Year: Demario Richard, RB—No. 4 (Sophomore)

The argument could certainly be made for others, but Richard's impact for this offense was not only reliable, but crucial to the Sun Devils finding success.

After flashing his potential as a true freshman, Richard took over the starting tailback role this year, getting off to a hot start, amassing 429 yards (6.1 yards per carry) and four rushing touchdowns, along with 10 receptions for 185 yards and two touchdowns in four matchups during the month of September alone (he was one of the leading rushers in the country early on in the year, too).

Injuries took a toll on his production throughout the middle of the schedule, but Richard would go on to close out the regular season with back-to-back 100-yard performances. In fact, after sitting out against then-No. 4 Utah because of injury (the game ASU ran for a season-low 15 yards and loss), Richard ran for 100 yards or more in four of the Sun Devils' last five games.

The 5-foot-10, 220-pound back finished the regular season with 1,050 yards and seven touchdowns, reaching the century mark for the first time in his career. He also caught 31 passes for 305 yards and three touchdowns, finishing fourth in receptions and sixth in receiving yards on the team.

While flawed (fumbles, injuries), Richard's importance to the offense goes without saying. His ability as a bruising back not only enables the passing game to flourish, but even complements and sets up the more speed-oriented running style of backfield mate Kalen Ballage.

He is also a quarterback-friendly target out of the backfield as a safety valve, and does a great job extending plays by breaking tackles. Don't be surprised to see this offense revolve around his play in 2016.

Runner Ups
Mike Bercovici, QB—No. 2 (Senior, RS)

Typically, the Sun Devils offense went as their signal-caller played, and it was up-and-down throughout the year for the redshirt senior. Bercovici finished the season with 3,442 yards, 26 touchdowns and nine interceptions, while posting a 60.4 completion percentage in his first and only season as the full-time starter.

Devin Lucien, WR—No. 15 (Senior, RS)

Lucien exploded to the finish line, totaling nearly 400 yards on 17 catches, including four scores in ASU's final two games.

Prior to the final two contests, Lucien had only surpassed 80 yards just once in ASU's other 10 games. Still, throughout the year, Lucien served as Bercovici's most reliable target, demonstrating solid skill as a possession receiver who could regularly move the chains.

Lucien set career-highs in receptions (57), yards (930) and touchdown receptions (7) in his lone season in Tempe. He led the Sun Devils in all three categories, as well.

Tim White, WR—No. 12 (Junior, RS)

As ASU fans wondered who would replace the production and influence of Jaelen Strong at receiver, up stepped Tim White. The JUCO transfer asserted himself as the Sun Devils most explosive weapon on the outside, finishing with 53 receptions for 554 yards and six touchdowns in 2015.

Kalen Ballage, RB—No. 9 (Sophomore)

Ballage served more as a change-of-pace back for the Sun Devils in 2015, but he really provided some big play ability and pop in the running game. Despite missing the team's first three games, Ballage finished the year with 627 yards and four touchdowns on the ground.