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ASU Football: Graham prides history, innovative equipment in new Student Athlete Facility

Part of the $268 million stadium renovations, this jewel sits on the north side of Sun Devil Stadium.

Josiah Destin/House of Sparky

During Head Coach Todd Graham’s media tour of the new Arizona State football Student Athlete facility, he touched many ideas and topics he wanted his players to understand on Thursday afternoon.

But the greatest of all, was the words he had installed right next to the elevator in front of the weight room.

“One Goal. Champions.”

Josiah Destin/House of Sparky

The tour went over the newly installed weight room, the nutrition bar, team and position room meeting rooms, large sound system and so much more.

The state-of-the-art building wasn’t just filled with new equipment to train the body and mind, but also a top of the line training room to help the recovery process and deal with a major issue every college football team’s season entails: injuries.

Graham spoke after the tour with an emphasis on teaching in the new facilities, innovative technology and his relationship with legendary Coach Frank Kush.

Here are the five of the biggest takeaways from the tour and the post-tour press conference:

State-of-the-art equipment

The nearly 120,000 square foot building is surrounded by up-to-date equipment that not only puts the Sun Devils on par with some of the top Pac-12 football programs, but reaches above and beyond.

The weight room has brand new weights, bars, racks, etc., with a video board that will be installed in the future.

For film, each position has its own individual room to go over plays and strategies with television screens and massive projector boards for each position to meet together. Along with that, the Sun Devils have a team meeting room as large as a fully-sized movie theater.

Recruiting

With a state-of-the-art training facility underneath its belt, ASU has tremendously improved its recruiting situation. Graham told the media that the new facility has already helped improve recruiting and it’s not hard to see why.

With all these great tools, a player that’s thinking about joining the program will surely be more enthused in joining a school with a facility this entertaining.

Combining the past with the present

Graham toured the media past the new Tillman Tunnel that into rooms with walls displaying the history of the Territorial Cup, former coaches, Sun Devils in the college hall of fame, currently and formerly in the NFL and athletes who have served in the military.

Graham told the media that due to his love of history and his country, the facility very much needed these memorials throughout the building.

“I’m an old history teacher,” Graham said. “I love this country. I love getting to do what I get to do, very blessed to do it… And I think it’s key to the fact that we reach out and embrace our former players and our tradition.

“I want our kids to walk down the hall and know what has been done.”

A look into the future

Though the building is surrounded by its past, the Sun Devil football is looking towards its future.

During the post-tour press conference, Graham mentioned his team captains will be senior running back Kalen Ballage, junior offensive lineman Sam Jones and junior defensive lineman JoJo Wicker, with chance of him adding a fourth member. Another topic he discussed during the press conference is the quarterback battle.

“We have a returning starter,” Graham said of junior quarterback Manny Wilkins. He's the starting quarterback until somebody beats him out.”

With this in mind, it’s clear that Wilkins is starting, but if Barnett or another QB comes up fast in this last month, there could be a switch between the two.

Finally, Graham talked briefly about redshirt sophomore Brady White and his rehab due to his injury from last season.

“Really proud of Brady White,’’ Graham said. “Brady suffered a really tough injury and he’s working hard in his rehabilitation to make it back. I don’t project that will be this year, but he is working his tail off to do that. He is not out for the year. It was a 12-month recovery with his recovery.”

An emotional farewell

During the tour, the wall that memorialized the late Frank Kush didn’t appear until Graham officially unveiled it. Whenever he talked about Kush, it was easy to tell he’s still reeling and was emotional from his death.

Kush died on June 22, and Graham told the media a story about how even in his late age, Kush would ask Graham why he would run specific plays during games.

“Things that you hold dear and that you’re passionate about are the last things you hold onto,” Graham said. “That’s why it’s such an honor for me to coach here.”

The program plans to honor Kush during its game against San Diego State on Sept. 9 with a moment of silence. Starting on Thursday, Sun Devil fans can also sign a flag that sits in the Sun Devil Bookstore. The flag will be taken to Camp Tontozona where Graham will place it on top of Mount Kush.