Don Hansen

2014 Look Ahead: Linebackers

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As we get closer to the end of the season, Signing Day 2014 is less than two months away. The ASU Devils Den will be closely examining each positions group moving forward. The defense is led by a lot of upperclassmen, so we will examine the defensive side of the ball first.

Similar to the defensive line, Todd Graham and Paul Randolph will be looking for several new starters. Chris Young (WILL) and Anthony Jones (SPUR) have completed their senior years, and Carl Bradford (DEVIL) could declare for the NFL draft pending his grade evaluation. As seen on Bradford’s twitter feed, he does graduate from Arizona State this December. However, unlike the defensive line, the Sun Devils have some younger linebackers in the program who will work for a starting spot.

Linebackers Leaving

  • Chris Young                                        Starter  (2nd Team All Pac-12 Team)
  • Anthony Jones                                  Starter
  • Steffon Martin                                  #2 SAM
  • Kipeli Koniseti                                    #2 DEVIL
  • Grandville Taylor                              #2 WILL

ASU has four linebacker positions “DEVIL”, ”SAM”, “WILL, and “SPUR”.

Linebackers Returning

  • DEVIL
    • Carl Bradford                     Starter (2nd Team All Pac-12 Team)           Possible NFL Draft
    • Ami Latu
    • Chans Cox
  • SAM
    • Salamo Fiso
    • Eriquel Florence
  • WILL
    • Antonio Longino
    • Matt Rowe
  • SPUR
    • Carlos Mendoza
    • AJ Latu
  • 2014 Verbal Commitments
    • D.J. Calhoun (WILL)
    • Christian Sam (WILL or SAM)
    • Jamal Scott (Spur)
  • Possible Class of 2014 Targets
    • Qualen Cunningham (Devil) – Verbal commit to Texas A&M
    • Patrick Choudja (Devil)
    • Ismael Murphy-Richardson (Devil)

The battle for the WILL and SPUR positions could be between current Sun Devils like Florence, Mendoza, Ami Latu, Longino, or AJ Latu. Also, field safeties Laiu Moeakiola and Marcus Ball could take a shot at the SPUR linebacker position based on the depth and readiness of other safeties on the roster. There isn’t a proto-typical DEVIL linebacker on the roster should Bradford enter the NFL Draft. Other than Fiso, the returning linebackers do not have a lot of playing time which will be a major concern as there were alignment issues during the 2013 season with an experienced group of linebackers.

The class of 2014 has some spectacular and physical linebacker candidates joining the Sun Devil defense. Class of 2014 verbal commit D.J. Calhoun could join the Arizona State football program this spring as early enrollees. Calhoun, a California high school early graduate, will battle to become the starter at the WILL linebacker spot. Calhoun is a consensus four star prospect across the four major recruiting services.  Class of 2014 high school verbal commits Christian Sam and Jamal Scott are big time hitters who could eventually start for the Sun Devils in their futures after a redshirt year in the strength and conditioning program. Overall, it does look like three new linebackers is the number that ASU will take in its 2014 recruiting class, but if Cunningham decided to flip to Arizona State from Texas A&M, the Sun Devils coaching staff will find a way to make room. A fourth linebacker, most likely a devil backer candidate like Cunningham, could be taken as ASU needs to protect itself in case Bradford decides to declare early for the NFL.

Linebacker is a position to closely watch during the spring. Spring practice and Camp T will be critical for these linebackers as they need to come up to speed quickly. Cox and Mendoza should have time to heal from their injuries while JC transfers like Longino and Florence have had more time to get acquainted into a Division 1 college system. Needless to say, Graham and Randolph have their work cut out for them with so many seniors leaving the two deep at the linebacker position.

Disclaimer: The numbers for each position are not official. These are based on research and numbers can change based on multiple factors from now until Signing Day for a variety of reasons. 

About Don Hansen

Don Hansen

Don is a 2003 graduate of Arizona State University where he spent four years sitting in the front rows of many ASU athletic events leading the rowdy student section. Now, Don co-hosts the "ASU Devils Den" podcast covering every detail of ASU football. Don works and resides in Gilbert, Arizona with his beautiful Sun Devil wife and their two beautiful daughters!

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