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ASU football: Spring practice notebook No. 8: Abe Thompson gets reps at running back

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We also saw a new tennis ball drill

ASU redshirt senior offensive lineman Tyson Rising (58) delivers a punch to the blocking sled during the Sun Devils’ spring football practice on Thurs, Mar. 29, 2018 at the Bill Kajikawa Football Practice Fields in Tempe, Arizona.
Andrew Palla

The Arizona State Sun Devils were at it again at Kajikawa Practice Field Thursday, but they did practice in shorts.

Last practice: Tuesday, March 27

Next Practice: Friday, March 30 (6:35 a.m.)

Music

Plug Walk (Rich the Kid)

Injury update

Ryan Newsome, Ryan Jenkins, Jeremy Smith, Mason Walter, DeMonte King, Ceejhay French-Love, Koron Crump and Deion Guignard each entered the bubble early, missing the remainder of practice.

Also, we did not see running back Trelon Smith out there, and Abe Thompson said that Smith was sick.

New backfield duties?

ASU’s running back room was already small. Only four guys manned the unit, and then, according to Abe Thompson, Trelon Smith was out sick and Mark “Goose” Cosgrove wasn’t feeling to great himself.

So instead of running Eno Benjamin almost solely out of the backfield, the ASU coaches called on Thompson, a former running back in high school and at NAU in 2015.

“It was a lot of fun. It felt like old times again,” Thompson said. “They asked if I wanted to come over and I said, ‘heck yeah.”

Thompson seemed elated to be back playing offense again, a move that Thompson says he doesn’t think will last but could possibly be a stepping stone into a two-way role — something he has been asking for.

“I’ve been messing with them a lot,” Thompson said. “Since I got here, I was like, ‘when are you going to let me play offense? When are you going to let me play offense?’ And I didn’t do too bad, so I might stay there for a little while longer, maybe even the remainder of spring ball, who knows?”

Before Thursday, Thompson wasn’t even cracking the second team linebacking unit, partly because, as he says, he was out sick for a while and fell behind on the defensive side.

Tennis balls

Tennis balls have made themselves one of the key fixtures of ASU’s spring ball thus far, but usually it’s linebacker’s coach Antonio Pierce and his unit using them to simulate a loose ball, but with a smaller ball, the difficulty bumps up a level.

Thursday was the first time we saw the defensive line work with them, and coach Shaun Nua used them in a very unique way.

Then, after each player went through the two hoops individually, picking up the ball in the middle, two guys lined up and raced through one hoop — again with the tennis ball in the middle — and waited for a coach to shout out who won.

Best matchup on the field

When Chase Lucas and N’Keal Harry were teammates at Chandler High School, they usually were playing on the same side of the ball. Lucas was mainly a running back then and was more part of a 1-2 punch with Harry.

Now, with Lucas as the Devils No. 1 corner, the two get to face each other every practice. Each time, the intensity increases — you would think it was the fourth quarter of the National Championship instead of just another spring practice.

“Me going against N’Keal, it’s been like, “Ok, you bring your best and I’m going to bring my best,” Lucas said. “And after the play, ‘good play. Good ball. Good catch.’”

The battles usually start off each one-on-one period and seem to illicit an emotion from both the winner and the loser.

Lucas won this rep on Thursday:

And Harry won this one Thursday:

Loaf count

Herm Edwards quote of the day

We have two today:

First-team offense

QB: Manny Wilkins

RB: Eno Benjamin

WR: N’Keal Harry, Kyle Williams, Frank Darby

TE: Tommy Hudson

OL: Tyson Rising (LT), Alex Losoya (LG), Cohl Cabral (C), Cade Cote (RG), Quinn Bailey(RT)

Second-team offense

QB: Blake Barnett

RB: Mark “Goose” Cosgrove, Abe Thompson

WR:Curtis Hodges, Terrell Chatman, Trevor Russell

TE: Jared Bubak

OL: Mason Schell (LT), Jesse Cozens (LG), Jonathan Sanchez (C), Corey Stephens (RG), Kyle Breed (RT)

First-team defense

DL: Shannon Forman, Renell Wren, Jalen Bates

LB: Khaylan Thomas, Jay Jay Wilson, Malik Lawal

CB: Kobe Williams, Chase Lucas

Tillman: Evan Fields

S: Langston Frederick, Jalen Harvey

Second-team defense

DL: Dougladson Subtly, D.J. Davidson, Jamie Diaz

LB: Parker Higgins, Kyle Soelle, Nick Ralston

Tillman: Tyler Whiley

CB: Terin Adams, Darien Cornay

S: Caleb McShanag, Dominique Harrison (Dasmond Tautalatasi took a few reps in Harrison’s place)

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For other updates and videos from Tuesday’s practice, follow @jdestinsports and @jordan_kaye23 on Twitter.