Devils Den Blog

The history of Dennis Erickson and the Elway’s continues


There were a plethora of subplots at the close of the 2012 NFL Draft, many of which involved the two Sun Devils that were drafted by the Denver Broncos as well as those that were passed over by the other 31.

Late on Saturday night we learned that more than a handful of those who did not have their named called during the draft, were quickly snatched up and invited to make NFL rosters as undrafted free agents.  Among the group of those players (I will let others beat the dead horse about Burfict going to the Bengals) was WR Gerell Robinson joining his two teammates QB Brock Osweiler and CB Omar Bolden trading in his maroon and gold gear for that of the orange and navy.

If you listened to our show during the season, you were no doubt bombarded by statistics for every pertinent match-up the Sun Devils were a part of in 2011, not to mention the history of their success against opponents.  History is a big deal to me, and not just because of all the endless clichés.  In football, history, and more importantly historical relationships, play a big part in hiring of coaches, forming staffs, developing schemes, and landing personnel.

In 1979, a young Dennis Erickson was hired by Jack Elway to serve as Offensive Coordinator at San Jose State.  Erickson would go on to coach Idaho, Wyoming, Washington State, before winning two National Championships at Miami.  But it was those 3 years he spent with Elway the elder that helped shape his innovative one-back offense that he would drop like fertilizer around the country.  The Johnny Appleseed of the teachings Jack Neumeier’s spread offense from the high school ranks.

Fast forward thirty years later, times have certainly changed for Erickson.  Five up and down seasons with the Devils help land Erickson into retirement, for the time being at least.  But his connection with the Elway’s lives on.  Not only did he land Jack’s grandson (a 3* recruit out of Cherry Creek HS, CO in 2008), a member of his 2008 recruiting class, but Saturday the roots grew even stronger.  Jack’s son John, a name you might be familiar with and executive vice president of the Denver Broncos, selected Osweiler (3* recruit out of Calispell, MT in 2009) as the heir apparent to Peyton Manning on Friday night’s Day 2 of the 2012 NFL Draft late in the 2nd round.  On Day 3, it was Bolden (4* recruit out of Colony HS, CA in 2007) as a 4th round selection, then Robinson (a 4* recruit out of Hamilton HS in 2008) as a free agent.  Head coach John Fox has been handed three players who were all part of Erickson recruiting classes and are now in the oversight of one of the best quaterbacks of all-time, in high school, college, or the professional ranks.

Legacy means a lot of things to a lot of people, but to me it means something that is handed down from the past, in this case, a predecessor.   Brock Osweiler was given a wealth of knowledge from coach Erickson, and you can see it in the respect and praise he gives his former college coach.  We’ll see what he can do with the gift of knowledge as he moves on to the pros along with Bolden and Robinson by his side.  The scene from the classic film Return of the Jedi  comes to mind when Luke Skywalker is looking into the fire near the end of the movie where he sees the ghosts of Jedi master past in Yoda, Obi-Wan, and Anakin.

We can only wish that these Sun Devils can go on to mirror the success financially as the films made by George Lucas.  Only time will tell.

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