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ASU Football Spring Preview: Defensive Backs

The Sun Devils’ most notorious defensive unit will look to bounce back in 2017.

Arizona State v USC Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Spring football is right around the corner. House of Sparky will be providing you content previewing Arizona State’s units ahead of offseason practices. Next we take a look at the team’s defensive backs.


Ask anyone who watched the Sun Devils’ defense in 2017: the pass defense made fans nauseous. For the second straight season, Arizona State’s secondary was victimized by low depth and poor play, most often because of miscommunication and inexperience.

Does the next season offer any type of hope? Possibly. ASU will look to remedy the problem in three manners: 1.) with a new defensive coordinator in Phil Bennett, 2.) hoping another year of experience as a part of the program allows for better comprehension of the defensive scheme, and 3.) through a high infusion of young talent.

Key Returners

Chad Adams: appeared in 11 games. Started games at safety.

Maurice Chandler: appeared in 11 games. Started games at cornerback.

Chaz Collins: no appearances last season.

Deion Guignard: appeared in 1 game.

Chase Lucas: Redshirted.

Caleb McShanag: Redshirted.

Kareem Orr: appeared in 11 games. Started games at cornerback.

Armand Perry: appeared in 10 games. Started games at safety.

J’Marcus Rhodes: appeared in 12 games. Started games at safety.

Robbie Robinson: appeared in 10 games.

Owen Rogers: no appearances last season.

Dasmond Tautalatasi: appeared in 10 games. Served as special teams ace.

Tyler Whiley: appeared in 4 games.

Who’s New

Darien Cornay: 31 tackles, eight pass breakups and one interception at Cerritos College (Calif.).

Evan Fields: will arrive upon high school graduation.

Langston Frederick: will arrive upon high school graduation.

K.J. Jarrell: will arrive upon high school graduation.

Alex Perry: will arrive upon high school graduation.

Ty Thomas: early enrollee. Will be present for spring practices.

Keep An Eye On: Who stands out

The Sun Devils return two key pieces in Kareem Orr and Armand Perry, who each battled injury over the course of the year. Assuming they’re entrenched to start, that leaves two of the other secondary positions open, most likely a corner and safety role. Look for returning names such as Maurice Chandler and J’Marcus Rhodes earn consideration after a year with the program. Another name to watch: Chase Lucas, whose redshirt was considered for ending last season after standing out in practices, despite his then-slender build of 6 feet, 156 pounds. He’s since reportedly reached 182 pounds, and the local product could be ready to make an impact for ASU this season.

Biggest Strength: Newness

New defensive coordinator Phil Bennett is looking to employ a simple strategy this year in regards to personnel: make sure the best players are on the field. Furthermore, as an incoming member of the program, there’s no presumptions as to who those best players are, and it will come down to their performance leading up to the new season that earns the coach’s consideration.

It’s an open field (sans Orr and Perry, whom for two seasons have been considered ASU’s best defensive backs). There’s a number of options to choose from, particularly from the ranks of the underclassmen. It will be something the unit has to incur failure and success for, but the latter has a chance to outweigh the former in 2017.

Biggest Concern: Uncertainty

While there’s reason to be excited for Bennett’s new defensive scheme, there’s no guarantee it’s a quick fix (as last year’s performance demonstrated). The idea of putting the team’s best players asserts that those best players must be identified, then tried out in those positions. There’s no guarantee it works.

What It All Means: Patience is a virtue

The Sun Devils will hope the spring provides immediate insight as to who they can expect to start for them/receive regular playing time this season. Players will have to adjust to a revamped scheme and prove their comprehension of it, while simultaneously proving their worth on the field. This isn’t something expected to happen the first day practices open, and while we know we’ve said this regarding other position groups, the best course of action for fans will be to just sit back, relax, and hope it gets better.