ASU Football: The Last Word On Camp T


Coach Todd Graham and his Arizona State Sun Devils have returned to the Valley from their mountain redoubt near Payson, Arizona, wrapping up a week of practice at Camp Tontozona.

Yours truly is also back from Camp T, with the sunburn, scratches and mosquito bites to show for it.

By all accounts, ASU’s practices in the pines were very successful. Other than an unfortunate shoulder injury to promising freshman safety Marcus Ball, the Sun Devils came home no worse for wear and ready for a grueling start to their 2013 season.

By now, you’ve probably waded through countless articles about Tontozona. Regardless, we’ve taken the opportunity to provide the last word on this year’s camp.

Taylor Kelly is the glue in Mike Norvell’s offense. Although missing a few days of full practice due to an accidental cut on his forehead, junior quarterback Taylor Kelly showed why he is essential to offensive coordinator Mike Norvell’s fast-paced attack. Kelly is at his best in situations where other QBs struggle to find to open receivers or salvage botched plays. He exhibits a calm confidence that is contagious to teammates, and almost always manages to make positive yardage — no matter the circumstances. Kelly looks poised to have huge season for the Sun Devils.

Jaelen Strong might be the missing ingredient. Juco transfer Jaelen Strong arrived late for fall practices, but was accompanied by high expectations. So far, he’s living up to promise. Strong could well be the tall, fast, dangerous receiver ASU has lacked in recent years. He seemed to gain traction each day of Camp T and should only get better with more reps before the season opener.

D.J. Foster is an exceptional homerun threat. Every once in a while, a player emerges who can stretch defenses with his athleticism and football instincts. Sophomore D.J. Foster is such a running back/receiver. During practices at Tontozona, Foster chewed up yardage on the ground against one of the Pac-12′s best defenses and made difficult receptions look easy. The presence of Foster and teammate Marion Grice as starters in the ASU backfield should give opposing defensive coordinators nightmares.

Deantre Lewis is back at full speed. After a spectacular freshman campaign, Lewis faded from sight – the victim of an unprovoked shooting incident near his family’s home in Norco, Calif. Based on his performance at Camp T, however, it appears Lewis has returned to form. He still has the speed and elusiveness of his earlier career, but has added power to his running style. Expect Lewis to make a major contribution alongside Grice and Foster.

This year’s O-line could be the new “homeboys.” Longtime ASU fans will recall the outstanding 1986 offensive line, dubbed the “homeboys” because the players all hailed from the state of Arizona. This year’s version of the O-line seems to have the same cohesiveness that made their predecessors legendary. Senior left tackle Evan Finkenberg, junior left guard Jamil Douglas, senior center Kody Koebensky, sophomore right guard Vi Teofilo and junior right tackle Tyler Sulka have been impressive in their blocking. And during Saturday’s scrimmage, they literally dominated their counterparts on the defensive line.

De’Marieya Nelson looks like the real deal. All-purpose “3-back” De’Marieya Nelson really impressed Coach Graham and Co. at Tontozona. Nelson’s 6-foot-3, 230-pound body has proven to be almost unstoppable on passing routes, and his 4-84 2 TD scrimmage performance likely cemented a role in the ASU playbook. The juco transfer will be fun to watch in 2013.

Tags: Arizona State Sun Devils Camp T Camp Tontozona Football Pac-12 Conference Taylor Kelly Todd Graham Will Sutton