2002 Arizona State University Football Spring Prospectus
March 18, 2002
There are few head coaches in the nation who put as much emphasis on offense as Dirk Koetter - he even serves as his own offensive coordinator. Koetter lives it, breathes it, sleeps it, as it were.
Andrew Walter, 6-5, 219, So., Grand Junction, CO (Grand Junction)
Chad Christensen, 6-2, 199, RS-Fr., Scottsdale, AZ (Desert Mountain)
Andy Goodenough, 6-4, 214, Jr., Corvallis, OR (Palomar JC)
Kellen Bradley, 6-3, 195, Fr., Scottsdale, AZ (Saguaro)
The players are listed here in no particular order. It all starts with the quarterback and Koetter will have a new starter in 2002. The candidates are Andrew Walter, who started two games last year (UCLA and Arizona), redshirt freshman Chad Christensen, who was the offensive scout team player of the year in 2001 and transfer Andy Goodenough, the Nation's No. 1 junior college quarterback in '01.
Walter completed 38 of 86 passes (48.8-percent) for 546 yards and three touchdowns. He was intercepted twice. Christensen showed good athletic ability with his speed (the fastest of the signal callers) and a good vertical leap. He also sports a black belt in karate. The coaches are anxious to evaluate Goodenough in Spring drills. Bradley is a signee that will join the team this Fall.
A backup last year, Matt Cooper has moved to tight end.
Mike Williams, 6-0, 200, Jr., Lakewood, CA (Mayfair)
Hakim Hill, 6-0, 211, RS-Fr., Iowa City, IA (City) OR
Cornell Canidate, 5-9, 190, RS-Fr., Phoenix, AZ (Alhambra)
Jermaine McKinney, 5-11, 219, Jr., Mission Viejo, CA (Capistrano Valley)
Randy Hill, 6-2, 200, Fr., Tempe, AZ (McClintock)
Loren Wade, 6-0, 215, Fr., Gardena, CA (Serra)
This is a position in which ASU lost its two top performers in Delvon Flowers (1,041 yards, 11 TDs) and Tom Pace (438 yards, 5 TDs). Junior Mike Williams is the returning tailback with experience (702 yards, 8 TDs in first two years) while Jermaine McKinney is much improved and saw some action at the end of games last year. Williams also caught 10 passes for 89 yards in 2001. The coaching staff will closely watch two highly touted backs this Spring in redshirts Hakim Hill and Cornell Canidate. Hill is the son of former ASU and NFL star J.D. Hill while Canidate is the younger brother of former UA and Los Angeles Ram star Trung Canidate. A pair of highly regarded tailbacks arrive this Fall in Randy Hill of Tempe and Loren Wade of Gardena, Calif.
Mike Karney, 6-0, 257, Jr., Kent, WA (Kentwood)
Darrell Turner, 6-0, 253, Sr., Bellflower, CA (Mayfair)
Joseph Aboussie, 5-9, 239, RS-Fr., Wichita Falls, TX (Wichita Falls)
Mike Talbot, 6-2, 230, Fr., Phoenix, AZ (Agua Fria)
Koetter has the luxury of having perhaps the best fullback in the nation in junior Mike Karney. In addition to being a capable runner and excellent pass receiver, Karney is a viscious blocker who brings a high level of intensity to the game of football. He's a versatile player that gives Koetter options. He will be backed up by fifth-year senior Darrell Turner. Redshirt freshman Joseph Aboussie and true freshman Mike Talbot are waiting in the wings.
Shaun McDonald, 5-9, 172, Jr., Phoenix, AZ (Shadow Mountain)
Justin Taplin, 6-0, 190, Sr., Tempe, AZ (Tempe)
Daryl Lightfoot, 5-9, 162, So., Phoenix, AZ (Maryvale)
Matt Miller, 6-1, 165, RS-Fr., Mesa, AZ (Mountain View)
Lorron James, 6-1, 200, RS-Fr., Bloomfield Hills, MI (Brother Rice)
Joe Bleymaier, 5-10, 174, RS-Fr., Boise, ID (Bishop Kelly)
Moey Mutz, 6-1, 175, So., Livermore, CA ()
Derek Hagan, 6-3, 180, Fr., Palmdale, CA (Palmdale)
Terry Richardson, 6-1, 190, Fr., Corona, CA (Centennial)
The headliner of this group is the dynamic Shaun McDonald, perhaps the most exciting wideout in the West. The diminutive McDonald, who caught 47 passes for 1,104 yards and 10 scores last year, makes things happen after he catches the football. And, at 5-9, he has the acrobatic ability to go over taller defenders and make plays.
Senior Justin Taplin could line up at the 'X' or play behind McDonald at the 'Z' position. Taplin snared 10 passes for two touchdowns a year ago. Another electric player in the mold of McDonald is sophomore Daryl Lightfoot, who caught six passes for 106 yards in his true freshman campaign. Freshman Matt Miller toiled on the offensive scout team last year and two other freshmen - Derek Hagan and Terry Richardson - join the team in the Fall.
Mike Pinkard, 6-5, 264, Sr., Thornton, CO (Thornton)
Frank Maddox, 6-3, 249, Jr., Celina, TX (Celina)
Lee Burghgraef, 6-5, 228, RS-Fr., Corona, CA (Norco)
Matt Cooper, 6-5, 247, Sr., Pleasanton, CA (Amador Valley)
Aaron Austin, 6-5, 255, Jr., Dos Palos, CA (Fresno CC)
Jamaal Lewis, 6-4, 225, Fr., Colorado Springs, CO (Rampart)
Tight end is somewhat of a question mark although incumbent Mike Pinkard has had a very good offseason. Pinkard caught nine balls for 158 yards and one score last year. Frank Maddox snared four for 33 yards one year ago. Redshirt freshman Lee Burghgraef is now activated and former quarterback Matt Cooper has moved to tight end. He has bulked up to 247 this Spring. The nation's top junior college tight end, Aaron Austin, joins the squad this Fall as does high schooler Jamaal Lewis.
Tim Fa'aita, 6-1, 315, Jr., Daly City, CA (City College of SF)
Brandon Macias, 6-6, 295, So., Hacienda Heights, CA (Los Altos)
Gino Benedetti, 6-4, 246, RS-Fr., San Francisco, CA (St. Ignatius Prep)
Louis Areyan, 6-3, 290, Jr., Redondo Beach, CA (El Camino JC)
Stephen Berg, 6-6, 310, Fr., Tucson, AZ (Canyon del Oro)
Jake Bingham, 6-5, 310, Fr., El Cajon, CA (Granite Hills)
Andrew Carnahan, 6-7, 270, Fr., Hereford, TX (Hereford)
Zach Krula, 6-7, 305, Fr., Sacramento, CA (Valley)
Chaz White, 6-4, 300, Fr., St. Johns, AZ (St. Johns)
Koetter and offensive line coach Jeff Grimes must deal with the loss of five seniors along the offensive line, including four starters. Only Regis Crawford returns as a starter with significant playing time and he will move from center-guard to left tackle. This group is very young. For now, Crawford will be backed up by redshirt frosh Chad Rosson. Junior college newcomer Tim Fa'aita is penciled in at left guard backed up by sophomore Brandon Macias. Tony Aguilar is listed at center and has some game experience under his belt. Likewise, sophomore Drew Hodgdon at right guard has played snaps during his brief career. And right tackle Damien Niko has experienced some game time along the front and as a blocking tight end.
Last year, Koetter's defensive coordinator Brent Guy installed the 4-2-5 defense. ASU's personnel struggled with the transition, finishing eighth in the Pac-10 in total defense (399.4 ypg). The coaching staff hopes that the defense, which is based upon speed, will benefit from having eight returning starters from last year's unit. Koetter's junior college recruiting was heavily skewed toward defense as he brought in four players to shore up certain areas of need.
Shane Jones, 6-3, 285, Jr., Antelope, CA (Sacramento CC)
Josh Kirkwood, 6-3, 259, RS-Fr., Phoenix, AZ (Maryvale)
*Khoa Nguyen, 6-2, 303, Sr., Tucson, AZ (Eastern Arizona JC)
*Danny Masaniai, 6-2, 326, Sr., Pago Pago, American Samoa (Samoana)
* Injured, awaiting NCAA medical hardship decision
Nick Johnson, 6-4, 245, Fr., Chandler, AZ (Chandler)
Alifaleti 'Ali' Likio, 6-3, 300, Fr., Euless, TX (Trinity)
Matt Mason, 6-4, 265, Jr., Phoenix, AZ (Glendale CC)
Ricky Parker, 6-4, 233, Fr., Los Alamitos, CA (Los Alamitos)
All-American candidate Terrell Suggs anchors a young and fairly inexperienced defensive front. Suggs, up to 242 pounds from 232 a year ago, tallied 18 tackles for loss in 2001, including 10 quarterback sacks. Brian Montesanto returns as a starter at the other end spot. Junior college all-American Shane Jones will be counted upon in the middle. The coaching staff is hoping that massive tackle Danny Masaniai receives a medical hardship from the NCAA for a knee injury that ended his 2001 season prematurely. ASU should be notified by the NCAA of its decision sometime in May. Transfer Matt Mason arrives this Fall and will be in the mix along the front.
Josh Amobi, 6-2, 219, Sr., Phoenix, AZ (Shadow Mountain)
Solomon Bates, 6-2, 261, Sr., Moreno Valley, CA (Canyon Springs)
Ishmael Thrower, 6-2, 215, Jr., Sacramento, CA (Sacramento CC)
Andy Nsubuga, 6-1, 215, Jr., Tucson, AZ ()
Mason Unck, 6-3, 228, Sr., Ogden, UT (Bonneville)
Connor Banks, 6-2, 228, So., Richmond, CA (St. Mary's)
Barton Hammit, 6-0, 217, So., Dallas, TX (Plano East)
Tyrone Bowers, 5-10, 225, Jr., Santa Barbara, CA ()
ASU returns two starters at linebacker, yet the positions are open for competition this Spring. Mason Unck has been hampered by a shoulder injury while Solomon Bates has been involved in an aggressive off-season conditioning program in an attempt to become faster. According to Koetter, Josh Amobi has had one of the best offseason's on the entire squad in terms of winter conditioning. Vaunted junior college transfer Ishmael Thrower was recruited to ASU as a defensive end, but will be tried at linebacker to take advantage of his speed. The coaching staff thinks that sophomore Barton Hammit is an intriguing prospect who is one of the fastest players on the team. Andy Nsubuga and Tyrone Bowers are two junior college transfers who redshirted last year and the coaching staff is anxious to see them perform this Spring. Connor Banks is another young player that will get looks this Spring.
Lamar Baker, 5-10, 196, So., Avondale, AZ (Agua Fria)
Emmanuel Franklin, 5-11, 183, So., Houston, TX (Jones)
O.J. Hackett, 5-10, 155, Sr., Fontana, CA (Chaffey College)
Mike Davis, Jr., 6-3, 180, Fr., Los Angeles, CA (Cathedral)
Cornerback is a little more settled than most positions on the squad as five players return at two spots who have game experience. R.J. Oliver and Lamar Baker were the regular starters a year ago. Emmanuel Franklin, who was never completely healthy in 2001, will challenge for time this Spring. O.J. Hackett, a former junior college transfer, will benefit from having a year in the program. Adrian Thomas is a former walkon who has played quite a bit, especially on special teams. Recruit Mike Davis, Jr., the son of former Oakland Raider Mike Davis, arrives this Fall.
Jason Shivers, 6-1, 190, So., Phoenix, AZ (South Mountain)
Riccardo Stewart, 5-10, 194, So., La Verne, CA (Bonita)
Alfred Williams, 6-1, 203, Sr., Irvine, CA (Irvine)
Michael Holloway, 6-0, 201, So., Los Angeles, CA (Saint Paul)
Brandon Falkner, 6-0, 200, Sr., Peoria, AZ (Peoria)
Joey Smith, 5-11, 198, RS-Fr., Phoenix, AZ (South Mountain)
Brett Hudson, 6-2, 205, Jr., San Diego, CA (Grossmont JC)
Patrick Wilson, 5-10, 194, Sr., Glendale, AZ (Ironwood)
Andre Bailey, 6-3, 195, Fr., Tempe, AZ (McClintock)
Matt Fawley, 6-1, 205, Fr., Richardson, TX (Pearce)
Robert James, 5-11, 168, Fr., Phoenix, AZ (Maryvale)
J.W. Lucas, 6-3, 195, Fr., Phoenix, AZ (Cactus)
Defensive coordinator Brent Guy has multiple choices at safety. He has sophomore Jason Shivers, who led the team in tackles with 89 last year as a true freshman at free safety. For his efforts, Shivers was named a Freshman All-America by The Sporting News. Senior Alfred Williams has been a starter over three seasons and he added 52 tackles in 2001. Riccardo Stewart is a quality, hard-nosed player who will be in the mix. Mike Holloway, Brandon Falkner and Patrick Wilson are also options at safety. Redshirted freshman Joey Smith had an excellent Fall last year on the scout team, winning defensive scout team player of the year honors. Junior college transfer Brett Hudson, who joined the program this Spring, has been impressive in winter conditioning. The coaches are enthusiastic about the four recruits who will join the team this Fall in Andre Bailey, Matt Fawley, Robert James and J.W. Lucas.
When Dirk Koetter hired Tom Osborne (who had worked at Oregon) to become his assistant head coach for tight ends and special teams, he made a clear statement that the Sun Devils would place a large emphasis on special teams play. Special teams account for one-third of the game (offense and defense being the other two-thirds) and are often overlooked. During the course of a game, there are hidden yards that can be accounted for if you have great special teams play. That is the gospel according to Osborne. Most of ASU's starters (sans linemen) perform on special teams. The keys are creativity and unpredictability.
ASU's punt team was so unpredictable in 2001 that Tom Pace turned in a rare feat perhaps never duplicated in college football. In three instances on fourth-down punt fakes, he ran for, passed for and caught a pass for first-downs.
All of ASU's special teams units improved as the 2001 season progressed. ASU's kickoff return unit finished No. 2 in the Pac-10 (25.0 ypr) while the punt return team finished No. 5 (8.3 ypr). ASU was No. 2 in punting (37.5 net) and was No. 4 in PAT kicking (.977 - 43-of-44). The Sun Devils were No. 7 in field goals (.643 - 9-of-14).
In fact, Pace tied a Pacific-10 Conference and ASU school record with a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown versus UCLA which tied several players. Pace finished ranked No. 4 in the nation in kickoff returns with an average of 31.59 per return. The Sun Devils finished ninth nationally in team kickoff returns with a 25.04 average.
Osborne's kickoff cover unit allowed four kickoffs to be returned past the 30-yard line during the first four games of the 2001 campaign. But after the squad bought into how important special teams are and learned the system, it allowed just one to be returned past the 30-yard line in the final seven games.
The players above are listed in no particular order as all will be used on punt returns at some point in 2002. In fact, all three returned punts last year. Taplin had an 8.7 yards-per-return average (18 returns) while Lightfoot returned eight for 8.2 yards per. McDonald handled three returns.
Mike Williams, 6-0, 193, Jr., Lakewood, CA (Mayfair)
Justin Taplin, 6-0, 190, Sr., Tempe, AZ (Tempe)
Daryl Lightfoot, 5-9, 170, So., Phoenix, AZ (Maryvale)
Shaun McDonald, 5-9, 168, Jr., Phoenix, AZ (Shadow Mountain)
Hakim Hill, 6-0, 210, RS-Fr., Iowa City, IA (City)
Cornell Canidate, 5-9, 175, RS-Fr., Phoenix, AZ (Alhambra)
Matt Miller, 6-2, 180, RS-Fr., Mesa, AZ (Mountain View)
The players listed above are in no particular order and all will be looked at in Spring drills and this Fall. Departed seniors Tom Pace and Delvon Flowers were ASU's 'starters' in 2001, but Mike Williams did return 14 kickoffs for a 23.4 yard average. Several players will be tried here and the coaches are anxious to look at redshirted freshmen Hakim Hill, Cornell Canidate and Matt Miller.
Osborne must contend with the loss of punter Nick Murphy in 2002. Murphy was third in the Pac-10 with an average of 41.1 yards per punt. Competing in the Spring in a good battle to watch will be senior Brian Biang and redshirted junior college transfer Tim Parker. ASU did not sign a punter in the 2002 recruiting class.
Mike Barth returns for his senior campaign as placekicker. Barth has made some big-time pressure kicks in his career. He is 26 of 39 (.667) with a long of 49 in his career. Greg Pieratt is a very capable backup. ASU did not sign a placekicker in the 2002 signing period. Both Barth and Pieratt will compete for kickoff duties with punter Brian Biang.
Jay Breckenridge, 6-2, 227, Sr., Bisbee, AZ (Bisbee)
The 2002 Arizona State football schedule is perhaps the most ambitious the school has ever undertaken with 13 regular-season games on the slate. The 13 contests marks the most ASU has ever played in a regular season. There are seven home games, including three non-conference games with Eastern Washington (Aug. 31), Central Florida (Sept. 7) and North Carolina (Oct. 5).
ASU will open the 2002 campaign on the road in Lincoln, Nebraska at the BCA Classic on Saturday, Aug. 24. ASU will face the Cornhuskers for the eighth time in history. The Sun Devils won the last meeting, 19-0, in 1996 at Sun Devil Stadium/Frank Kush Field.
ASU will play one non-conference road game - at San Diego State on Sept. 14.
The Pacific-10 Conference portion of the schedule includes home games with Stanford (Sept. 28), Oregon State (Oct. 12), Washington (Oct. 16) and California (Nov. 9). ASU has not played Cal since 2000.
Pac-10 road games include Oregon (Oct. 19), Washington State (Nov. 2), USC (Nov. 16) and Arizona (Nov. 29).
ASU's Pac-10 miss in 2002 will be UCLA.
Five of ASU's first seven games are at home at Frank Kush Field/Sun Devil Stadium while three of the last four games of the season are on the road.