Jared Cooper

Coop’s Corner: Douglas Continues to Refine his Craft

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Change may not always be easy for everyone but adjustments must be made in order to achieve the goals you set.

Jamil Douglas, the six-foot-four-inch, three-hundred pound lineman from Cypress, California is three games into his final year as a Sun Devil. The 2014 season will be his fifth on the team after being redshirted his freshman year. As a redshirt freshman, he appeared in every game which lead him to a starting position on the offensive line in 2012.

Last season was Douglas’ best year to date which lead to him being named to the All-Pac-12 Second Team. After starting every game for another year, he brought his consecutive start streak to twenty-seven games.

Douglas began this season as a preseason candidate for the Outland Trophy (nation’s most outstanding interior lineman) and the Lombardi Award (nation’s most outstanding lineman or linebacker). In addition to being a heavily watched player for the Sun Devils, he has been honored as on of the team captains this year.

“He’s a giver. He’s a guy that gives respect to everybody and is there for everybody,” said Coach Chris Thomsen, ASU’s Assistant Head Coach and Offensive Line Coach. “(He’s) willing to give up himself. He’s got all the traits of a good leader.” Douglas is the most-seasoned lineman and makes sure to mentor the younger guys as best he can.

After beginning the season with three straight wins over Weber State, New Mexico and Colorado, confidence is continuing to grow for the Sun Devils, but it is the improvement of different areas every week that help teams progress said Douglas.

Playing alongside some new faces on the offensive line can be a struggle at first, but the group has meshed well with one another, specifically with the additions of Christian Westerman and Nick Kelly.

“They are big, physical guys that add a lot of athleticism to our offensive line which helps us in our schemes. I think they are getting better every week and showing improvement,” Douglas added.

Nick Kelly, a junior and starting center full-time this year, had enjoyed working with Douglas and said that he has “really helped me better read and understand what the defense is doing before the ball is snapped.”

Different for Douglas this year has been his position on the offensive line. When he first arrived to ASU, Douglas started at left guard, the position that Coach Thomsen said is much more suited for him. But now in his senior season, the coaching staff decided to move him to left tackle.

“It’s still kind of new. I’m still learning as the season goes. Just things such as timing with hands, different angles of blocks is mainly what I have to focus on,” said Douglas.

It’s not always easy transitioning from a position that you are not accustomed too, but Douglas continues to do well in the eyes of Coach Thomsen.

“The first thing you need to do when you transition is the mental aspect of it and learning what to do. He’s really smart so it has not bee a problem for him.” Thomsen went on to add that, “The second part is the technique aspect. You are further away from the ball and things happen a little bit quicker but he is adjusting to that.”

Coach Thomsen works with the offensive line during practice.

Chris Thomsen works with the offensive line during practice. Photo by Tomer Greenfeld.

Now currently undefeated, the Sun Devils face one of their biggest games of the season next week against their Pac-12 South foe, UCLA. The Bruins will enter the game without a blemish in their record as well, beating Virigina, Memphis and Texas, respectively.

This will be Douglas’ third start against UCLA in his career with a big win for the Pac-12 South Title coming last year at the Rose Bowl in Los Angeles. But for Douglas, he says that this game has not been on his mind. “You just need to take it a week at a time and when it comes, we’ll be ready,” Douglas added.

In last week’s game against Colorado, the Sun Devils witnessed something they never expected to see. Redshirt senior and starting quarterback, Taylor Kelly, injured his foot in the third quarter, leaving his status against the Bruins, and further games, in question.

Similar to how Jamil Douglas had to adjust to his new position of left tackle and with Kelly likely out for an extended period of time, the offensive line is prepared to make minor alterations for their backup quarterback, Mike Bercovici. “We got Berc(ovici) a lot of reps with the ones at Camp T,” said Coach Thomsen, “I didn’t even notice during practice.”

Switching the leader of your football team after several games can be tough for anyone. Douglas expressed that the offensive line, the team, and himself are confident in their new commander.

“He has the command of the offense as well…He’s a different type of leader,” Douglas stated. “We’re going to rally around Bercovici and we expect him to do a great job for us.”

Adjustments can be made for any reason whether it’s the changing of the starting quarterback or moving to a different position. However, for Jamil Douglas, there may be another change coming up in his future.

Douglas is being regarded highly by scouts for the 2015 NFL Draft, thanks to his attributes in the weight room. Under the guidance of Shawn Griswold and his staff, Douglas has put in NFL friendly numbers of 430 pounds for his bench press and a squat of 565 pounds (in an article written by Mike Huguenin, NFL.com), not to mention running the 40-yard dash time under five seconds, making him more than attractive as a tackle or guard at the next level.

In the past, ASU has seen some success with their players moving up to the next level, including three players drafted last year. As for Douglas, Coach Thomsen says that he has a great potential to play in the NFL.

“He’s probably a bit more suited for the guard position, but his flexibility to play both I think is very attractive to the people at that level.” Thomsen went on to say that, “The guy is smart, has a lot of character and that’s what they are all looking for.”

Some may argue that the college and professional games are very different when compared to one another. Before Douglas focuses on reaching the next level, there are several areas that Coach Thomsen says that he needs to improve upon.

“He needs to get a little more active with his hands. His pass protection technique with his hands a little bit…The timing out there is different. At guard that guy is right on you. At tackle there’s a bit of a waiting period before that defender gets to you. So you need to learn how to time up your hands. That’s the biggest thing right now,” said Coach Thomsen.

The Sun Devils have a bye week, giving them an opportunity to rest, prepare for their upcoming opponent a bit more, and make the necessary adjustments for their game plan.

No. 15 ASU’s next game is against No. 12 UCLA on Sept. 25, 2014 at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Ariz. at 7 P.M. MST.

About Jared Cooper

Jared Cooper

Jared is an Intern this season for ASU Devils Den. He is a senior at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications studying Broadcast Journalism with a focus in sports broadcasting. In addition to interning at ASU Devils Den, he works in the Marketing Department for the Phoenix Suns. Jared is a former Sparky the Sun Devil, ASU's mascot, from 2011 to 2013.

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