This spring, newly signed football players Derek Calhoun and Edmund Boateng enrolled in classes early. This move allows them to participate in spring drills, which in the world of college football is a huge plus. Being able to participate in spring football practice essentially doubles the amount of time to prepare for the upcoming season. This, of course, is only applicable to the new signees, as returning players are already here and their presence at spring practice is obviously mandatory.
Consider the other 20 plus players that won’t arrive at ASU until late this summer and won’t do any football training until August. That gives them about 4 weeks to learn the system, get in shape and prove themselves. For most of the incoming players, the volume, intensity and the unfamiliarity of the college game, the system, teammates and the coaches will make their head spin for quite a while. They will essentially be playing “catch-up”.
Throw in the fact that after fall camp, these same new players must adjust to college life; no parents, no one holding their hand to figure things out, time management and oh yeah, classes to attend that are more difficult than high school classes. Then there’s the psychological change that all division one college players must face: going from being the big man on campus or the big fish in a little pond to simply being another body. All these factors require a period of adjustment. That period of adjustment usually overlaps with the beginning of the season. In this day and age of college football, coaches simply cannot wait for a talented new guy to “figure it out”. They need players to produce.
The result usually is, with a few exceptions, that most freshmen are forced to redshirt. They take a year to adjust to college life and big-time college football. There is nothing wrong with that. Many coaches think it’s a good thing to have many of their new signees redshirt. It’s a tough transition.
This is where Derek Calhoun and Edmund Boateng have separated themselves. Calhoun should be finishing his senior year in high school right now, going to the prom and goofing around with his childhood friends. Instead, he’s already taking classes in Tempe, lifting weights with the team and going full speed in practice. He’s learning the system and his position right now, instead of in August. That’s a huge advantage for him and the Sun Devils. If he has the talent to produce and that talent allows him to run with the first team, coach Todd Graham needs him on the field. If he had waited until the fall to show up as most freshmen do, he may not have had the impact that he is now.
The same goes for defensive end Edmund Boateng. He is in a slightly different situation as a junior college transfer. He has college experience, both as a player and a student. He’s been away from home and has matured a little bit. Still, being here with the team and learning his craft, getting used to the tempo, the assignments and the environment, he puts himself in a good position to contribute early and often.
Early enrollees are not the norm. But those players that decide to do so, like Calhoun and Boateng, can give themselves and the team a huge advantage at competing at the highest levels. Sun Devils fans are hoping it pays off.