Student-Athlete quotes from 2005 Football Media Day

Aug. 6, 2005

Tempe, Ariz. - Senior wide receiver Derek Hagan

On comparisons to ASU legend John Jefferson:'It is pretty unbelievable for me because John Jefferson was just a great player and a great receiver. It is nice to just be put in the same category that he's been put in. He's been mentioned throughout the years long after he was done playing.'

On his surprise at being named a preseason All-American:'I wasn't surprised. As long as you come in working hard and doing the things that you need to do, everything will work out the right way. There are a lot of guys on this team that work hard and come to play, and soon they'll get their chance to shine and show everybody what they can do.'

On ASU's preseason ranking in the poll:'We really don't pay too much attention to the rankings because its something that the media chooses and the coaches choose. Those rankings are just assumptions on where those people think we are going to finish. We know that as long as we come in and get the job done, and win the games we need to win, we'll be okay.

'I do believe that (we are one of the top programs in the nation.) We have a lot of great players and this team has got great leadership. All the guys have just come together, knowing that we are out here to get the job done.'

On how proud he is of his accomplishments at ASU:'I am very proud. Obviously coming in as a freshman, you have to learn a lot from the older guys and now I am one of the older guys and it will be on me to teach the freshmen about what I've learned through the years.

'Every receiver comes in working hard. Every receiver is always in the media room watching tape and in the weight room trying to get stronger. We also work out on the field to improve our quickness and I think that I personally have worked very hard (to get where I am). Once you do all that stuff, it pays off for you.'

Senior linebacker Jamar Williams'We're going to go into every game with the mentality that we can win games with our defense. We're going to bring a lot of blitzes and put pressure on the other team. This is my senior season and I want to make something special out of it.'

On the benefit of having experienced an ASU football season before:'It's a learning process and over the past three years I have learned a lot, but from the beginning I have always looked forward to this time, being a senior, a team captain, and just being a leader of our defense. I'm not going to take anything for granted. I'm going to take in every moment and do what I can to make our team better. Hopefully, at the end of the season, we'll be in the Rose Bowl.'

On his confidence in quarterback Sam Keller to lead the ASU offense:I'm very confident in Sam's ability to lead our offense. After what he did in the Sun Bowl and seeing what he did in practice all of last year, I'm very confident in his abilities. I feel like that with him at quarterback, we definitely have a chance to win a lot of games. I think he is a great leader and that he is ready for the job. Just watching him talk to the team, I feel like he is the right man for the job.'

Sophomore receiver/tailback Rudy BurgessOn playing as himself in the NCAA video game:'I think that it is crazy because I'm playing video games knowing that I am in them. All my friends call me from back home to tell me that they played as me on the game. It's just a lot of fun.'

On participating in track this past year:'I had only practiced with the track team for about three weeks before the first meet. I had some pretty good jumps at that one and then I went to the Pac-10 meet this year and I finished 9th or 10th place, which I think is pretty good for only practicing for one week.

'As far as running technique, I think it will benefit me with a lot of the stuff that we practice in spring drills, like running a 40 and the ladder drill. It has definitely improved my footwork.'

On adding weight this off-season:'I put on about eight pounds. I feel it was pretty solid and I have managed to maintain that. Early this summer, I felt slow, but now I'm more used to the weight and I'm able to carry it better and I've balanced myself out.'

On ASU's running back situation'I keep hearing (`Can Rudy carry the ball 25 times a game?') so much that it is getting repetitive. I think we'll have to wait and see to find out, and to find out if I have to. Our running backs as a group feel very confident about the upcoming season. We have nine great guys that can all play and we'll keep rotating. The competition at the position is great right now going into camp. That is going to make our running back position a lot better.'

On dealing with playing three different positions in a game (kick returner, receiver, running back):'I'm going to deal with it based on how I feel in each game situation. We have some great recruits that I think can play at some of those positions and if I have to, I will sit out on special teams and save myself for offense.'

Junior quarterback Sam Keller

On being thrust into the role of starting quarterback last season:I've been waiting for this opportunity my whole life. It was a situation that you know going into every game, that I could be playing. In the Arizona game given the circumstances, down 14 with two minutes remaining, I didn't have time to think. I had to rely on my instincts and just go out there and play ball. Good things happened for us in that last stretch.'

'It's done a lot for me. As far as me knowing what I can do, I know that during crunch time I can make those plays. With the Sun Bowl, it gave me the opportunity to experience what it's like to prepare for a game as the starter. Not only has it given me a lot of confidence, it gave the whole team confidence. Every one who has come back this year is a proven player with experience. I was going to be the only one coming in as a starter this year who was not proven somewhat.'

On what improvements he made this offseason:'I've been working on watching more film and throwing more balanced. During the spring, I didn't feel that I was consistent. I had some good days, but about half the time I was just so-so and I wanted to work on that. That was the time of the year to work on that. Now, we're getting ready to play our games in the big time. I don't want to leave anything to chance so I have taken it more seriously working on the little things and getting ready. This is an exciting time.'

On the trust of his teammates:'It means a lot to me. I have a lot of respect for these guys, they are my friends and my teammates. For me to be able to look into their eyes and know that they trust me, that just gives me a whole extra purpose. When I can look right back at them and see how they've improved themselves already, looking at the Stanford game and the UCLA game, where they are battle-tested. Now that I know that I can do that same thing, I think we can make this a very special year, especially if our games are coming down to (the wire in the fourth quarter).'

On the comparisons to Andrew Walter:'I have been putting a lot of pressure on myself to measure up to Andrew Walter. Those are big shoes to fill and I am not going to be Andrew Walter. The thing that I have to realize is that I have to be myself. I am a good quarterback as well and there are things that I can bring to the table. What I had to realize was that I am going to make the plays. Andrew and I are different quarterbacks, but I can get the job done just as well. But frankly, any quarterback could come in here and drive this offense down field because of the guys that are surrounding me and how the staff prepares me for the situations. Our athletes are so good that the sky is the limit for this team.

'It definitely makes me more comfortable knowing that those guys have my back. I know that they feel like I am a returning starter and I feel like a returning starter. I know that I didn't play all those games that Andrew did, but I will be there and I will be ready for all those games. I think that the eight starters that are back know that. That's what is important, rather than anything else.'

Sophomore H-back Zach Miller

On recovering from offseason surgery:'It's the only surgery that I've ever had. It's been very different to me because I'm used to being generally pretty healthy. It's a new thing that I've just have to adapt to and recover from as fast as possible.

'I didn't enjoy missing spring ball. Everyone else was out there practicing and getting the chance to improve, and I was just on the sidelines watching them. I couldn't get out there and do what I wanted to do, which was to play football. I'd rather be out there taking the first team reps, but I have to listen to the doctors and when I'm good to go, I'll be out there at full speed.'

On the benefit of a year's experience:'I know the offense very well now and I won't be as hesitant as I was last year. At this time last year, I knew only a little bit of the plays and I made a lot of mistakes. This time around, I shouldn't make any mistakes. I've had a whole season of starting so I know how Pac-10 football works and I know what to expect. That whole experience has helped so much. I think I can go out there and play to the best of my abilities.

'I think I'm going to pick up where I left off. Obviously, missing spring ball I missed out on some practice time, but I'll play catchup and work extra hard to make suer that I am where I should be in my development.

'Now that I had one year with 56 catches, my goal is to have more catches with more yards. I want to just keep improving and start working on the finer points of being a tight end. I think I can improve on my route running and I feel very confident in being a leader of this team.' Defensive Coordinator Bill Miller

On making the change from SEC conference play to the Pac-10:'I think that some things hold true in the SEC as they do in the Pac-10. Great teams are the ones that really can run the ball consistently. You have to play good run defense if you want to win. If you've got speed on defense, you're going to have a better chance. Those are the things that you can look and see that win games.

'People look for balance and there is a spectrum of different types of offense that you have to defend against in the Pac-10. There were in the SEC as well and there are in the Big 12. This is real interesting conference and I'm really looking forward to the challenge.'

On the defensive makeup of this team:'We want to be a physical football team. We have people that we just need to put them in position to make plays. We'll try to ride our proverbial horses and give our guys the chance to have some success. We possess a very aggressive mentality.'

Junior place kicker Jesse Ainsworth

On his character in the new NCAA video game:'It played out well, [the distance and accuracy] was fine [laughs].'

On his performance last year:'I think I started off last season well...I slid down a little bit but I think I'm right back where I need to be coming in to this season; I'm very happy with the way that I'm kicking now.'

On important things learned from last year:'After you miss a kick, being able to get right back into the same mentality you were in before, ready to go for the next opportunity, ready to take advantage of that opportunity.'

Senior linebacker Dale Robinson

On his path to ASU:'I took the long path here coming from New York to Glendale [Community College] to ASU. I think that it's all given me valuable experience. I feel that I'm prepared for everything that's coming up.'

On playing in the Pac-10:'The competition is great. It's biggest reason why I choose ASU. I like playing with the best.'

On relationship with teammate Jamar Williams:'We're really close with each other. We were roommates all of last season. We're friends off the field and keep an eye on each other on the field. Neither one of us has a problem criticizing the other. '

Senior offensive lineman Grayling Love

On the importance of education:'My mother was a third grade teacher, so you could imagine how important education was in our household growing up.'

On his last promise to his father:'I told him that I'd name my first born after him. So my first-born son will be named Grayling Love III.'

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