As ASU closes in on their opening game of the 2014 season against Weber State, hardcore fans are probably asking “where is Eric Lauderdale?”
This is, of course, a rhetorical question. Lauderdale is in Tempe. He’s been practicing with the Sun Devils for the entire camp. But his name has not been mentioned very much. At least not to the extent that was expected. Eric Lauderdale was a highly rated wide receiver with several scholarship offers from some big time schools. His signing with ASU was perceived to be a major one. A feather in the cap for coach Graham’s 2014 class.
The fanfare in Sun Devil nation began immediately when his letter of intent was faxed in. Experts proclaimed that Lauderdale would be the immediate counterpart to and the equal of Jaelon Strong. (Devils in Detail had that opinion as well). PAC-12 network analyst Rick Neuheisel had mentioned him several times during the signing period as the “answer” to keeping double teams off of fellow wide receiver Jaelon Strong.
However, it hasn’t quite worked out that way. This is the nature of the “business” of college football. Expectations can breed disappointment and let-downs. On paper, Lauderdale is just another receiver that is new to the program and needs to learn the system and the pace of football at this level. But with the success of JUCO transfer Jaelon Strong last year, combined with the similar labels that Lauderdale had been given, the assumption was that Lauderdale would simply be “another Jaelon”.
Of course, it is unfair to have that expectation. Every player is different. After all, it’s not as if Lauderdale has been loafing at practice or dropping passes. It’s just that he isn’t grasping the system and applying his talents as quickly as had been hoped.
So ASU, like everybody else, must go to battle with what they have. The other receivers in the two deep are more than capable. The emergence of Cameron Smith, Fred Gammage, Ellis Jefferson and Ronald Lewis have been very encouraging.
ASU fans are just going to have to wait until Lauderdale is ready. He has to earn it. Devils in Detail believes that he will. Furthermore, it will probably be worth the wait.