Don Hansen

2014 Look Ahead: Running Backs

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Spring practice is right around the corner for the 2014 Arizona State Sun Devils. Previously, the “2014 Look Ahead” blogs reviewed quarterbacks, the offensive line, the defensive linelinebackers, and the secondary. The “2014 Look Ahead Series” continues with the running backs.

Running Backs Team Members Leaving

  • Marion Grice
  • R.J. Robinson

Running Back Team Members Returning

  • D.J. Foster, Junior
  • Deantre Lewis, Senior
  • Kyle Middlebrooks, Senior
  • Marcus Washington, Senior

Running Back Team Members Joining

  • DeChavon Hayes, Junior (Junior College Transfer)
  • Kalen Ballage, Freshman
  • Demario Richard, Freshman

Marion Grice’s time in Tempe has come to an end. Grice finished the 2013 season with 996 yards rushing, 14 rushing touchdowns, 438 yards receiving, and six receiving touchdowns even though he sat out the final three games due to an injury sustained when running out the clock during the victory at UCLA. It was a disappointing end to Grice’s senior season, but Arizona State fans got a glimpse of the future with running back D.J. Foster, who will take over the top running back position in 2014. In the final three games of the 2013 season, Foster showed his big-play ability by rushing the ball 51 times for 318 yards and four touchdowns and catching 11 passes for 129 yards and one touchdown.

The running back depth got a huge boost from the 2014 Sun Devil recruiting class. Hayes, the speedy junior college transfer, could replace Foster in the slot receiver/running back role while also taking over kick and punt returns. The true freshman Ballage, listed at 6’2″ and 215 pounds, is physically ready to play at the college level. Instead of using h-back De’Marieya Nelson as a short yardage, power running back, Ballage could fill that role. Ballage chose the Sun Devils over UCLA, Washington, and Nebraska, and he created a huge fan following with this vine from one of his high school games. Demario Richard, who was discussed in our 2014 Signing Series, is a dual-threat running back who put up big numbers in high school, but he could end up red-shirting in 2014 as seniors Deantre Lewis and Kyle Middlebrooks, returning from injury, provide explosive back-up options.

The running back position is quite deep heading into the 2014 season, and this is a position where many players get reps and touches as Deputy Head Coach and Offensive Coordinator Mike Norvell has shown he is willing to get creative to get his play-makers on the field. Running Backs coach Bo Graham has a room full of play-makers for next season and beyond.

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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