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Super Demario: ASU's Richard ready for bigger role at running back

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Demario Richard is ready for an elevated role in the 2015 season and has a chance to launch himself into the nation's eyes.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

For an all-purpose back, it's all about the balance.

It's having great vision and great hands.

For Demario Richard, it's having what he uniquely describes as "great elusiveness."

"I define myself as everything," Richard said. "I can line up at receiver and kill you with my hands and my routes or I can line up in the backfield and kill you with my speed and my power."

Eighteen-year old Richard is a true sophomore and now emerges at the head of the Arizona State Sun Devils' running game, due to D.J. Foster's recent move to wide receiver and Kalen Ballage's split time on defense at Devilbacker.

The 5-foot-10, 220-pound running back totaled 84 carries in his freshman campaign for 487 rushing yards, second on the team to Foster, and four touchdowns. He led all ASU running backs in yards per carry with 5.7.

As Richard became more noticeable across the Wes Coast, a pattern became more noticeable as well. Richard thrived off the heavier workload. The more carries he got, the better his average yards per carry became.

By the time Utah rolled around on Nov. 1, Richard ran for 116 yards with 8.3 yards per carry. He credits this to his constant improvement in the sport he has loved since childhood.

"Ever since I've been playing football I got better after every game," Richard said. "Every game. I mean, I've had a bad game, but I've never gone backwards. I've bounced back and had a better game than I ever had before, so I mean the more touches I get the better it is but the coaches know what they're doing so whatever they got I'm ready for it. But I'm built for the heavy workload."

Richard has many traits that make him this season's projected premiered running back, and among the most important is his ability to catch passes out of the backfield.

In last season's pivotal Notre Dame victory that catapulted the team to No. 6 in the rankings for the postseason playoff, Richard had three catches for 51 yards, along with 54 rushing yards.

In the Sun Bowl, Richard was named MVP of the bowl game with four touchdowns, two rushing and two receiving and five total catches. Richard said much of his success came from the ability to learn from players like D.J. Foster and memorize the schemes the coaches had laid out for him.

"D.J. Foster said to just keep my head straight," Richard said. "Sometimes I used to get frustrated last year and he would just tell me to keep my head straight and once I did that I would make the plays and that was the best piece of advice he could give me."

Now, Richard transitions to a mentor himself. This year, he will have a chance to double his carries and yardage with the elevated role he is predicted to assume.

And while Richard has a chance to launch himself into the eyes of the nation as a running back, given his success at 18 years old, he needs to first creep into their peripheral vision with his characteristic game-by-game improvement.

But in this feat, nerves are not a factor.

"I'm not nervous, I'm just ready," Richard said. "I'm anxious to play. I don't want to do too much, just stay focused and stay on the scheme and do what I'm supposed to do. I need to let the game come to me and don't rush to get the comfort of the game. I just love playing against a different jersey. So now, I'm just taking the scheme and running with it."