August 23, 2006

Hot 11 Newcomers

Here is a detailed look at 11 new faces to the ASU program this year; players that are all expected to see the field and help in the short term. In fact, many of these players will be counted on if the Sun Devils are to have the type of season they hope for.

1. Justin Tryon -- We're in love with this 5-foot-9, 182 pound cover corner for his work ethic and no-nonsense approach to the position. He's physically aggressive at the line of scrimmage with great closing ability, above-average multi-directional mobility and solid ball skills. Put it all together and ASU has a player that is capable of being the program's best at the position since R.J. Oliver, prior to his injury, conservatively. We could easily see him becoming one of the top corners in the conference and eventually playing on Sundays.

2. Ryan Torain -- A supremely talented running back with size, speed and versatility who is an excellent compliment to [/db]Keegan Herring[/db]. Torain is a lean 6-foot, 216-pounder who works hard in between the tackles and is a classic downhill runner. He'll be great in short-yardage and goal-line situations, but that's not all. He's sneaky athletic and explosive, can break off big gains off-tackle and he's a great third-down receiver and blocking back. Torain has the tools and athletic ability to potentially play on Sundays.

3. Ryan McFoy -- In about three years time it wouldn't surprise us at all to see McFoy talked about as the steal of this class. The fact that USC (where his brother plays) or other elite programs didn't make him a priority is hard to imagine and there is no doubt he was under-rated by recruiting services. Koetter said he thought McFoy could be a special safety and we see why. He's mature beyond his years, has an excellent approach to the position, and natural playmaking ability. He's a second-team guy this year as a true freshman and then watch out.

4. Gerald Munns -- All that Munns has done is come right in and take a stronghold on first-team strongside linebacker status in the team's base defense. He's a dedicated student of the game, who spent much of the spring observing from the sidelines, and summer working with the players informally so that he'd be ready to come in and contribute immediately. Munns moves extremely well for 6-foot-3 and 238 pounds; laterally, he's quicker than we anticipated. For a true freshman in this position, it's not ever going to be flawless, but Munns will be good now.

5. Mike Nixon -- This is no ordinary true freshman. Nixon is extremely mature and mentally advanced well beyond most of his peers, having spent the last few years playing minor league baseball. He picks things up extremely quickly and has terrific retention and ability to process information. Many of his classmates are trying to learn defense 101 and he's already moved on to advanced concepts. He was out there a week ago telling his teammates how to sniff out certain very specific formation tricks. Did we mention he's a solid athlete who loves to hit?

6. Travis Goethel - One of the most versatile and athletically gifted young linebackers to come to the program in years. At 6-foot-2 and 229 pounds, Goethel has a little Pat Tillman in his style of play (not to mention the flowing hair) but he has a better frame and is perhaps a bit of a better athlete. So yes, we're saying he has a great upside. He moves so effortlessly and covers a lot of ground. In a couple years he's got the chance to be truly special and this year he may eventually be the clear-cut best weakside linebacker on the roster.

7. Dimitri Nance -- In most years, Nance is a guy who comes in and has a chance at being at least a second-team performer immediately. This just happens to be a season when ASU will be deeper in legitimately talented running backs than any time in the last decade. Nance is extremely well put together physically with a sturdy core and lower body densely packed with muscle. He has great foot-speed and footwork and sees the field quite well. While he doesn't have tremendous break-away speed, it's hardly a significant limitation at this level.

8. Garrett Judah -- Another newcomer with a great body-type for the position and the ability to really cover a lot of ground at a rangy 6-foot-3, 232 pounds. Judah hasn't picked up some of the nuances of the defense as quickly as one might hope and it's a shame that he wasn't able to get a great head start by being in Tempe for spring ball. Even so, he's put up a good fight with Munns for the first-team starting strongside position and at the very least, he's going to play quite a bit as the primary backup here, we'd have to imagine.

9. Brady Conrad -- Of all the guys on this list, Conrad is the one that literally came out of nowhere. He was a walk-on that we knew nothing about when we first saw him in action early on in camp, but it was quite apparent right away that he was very capable. In fact, we said relatively early in camp that he was out-performing several of the scholarship tight ends. He doesn't make a lot of mistakes, can block, and catch the ball - basically do whatever is asked of him -- and he has nice size. He's earned a scholarship and will play this season.

10. Chris Baloney -- If it wasn't for Tryon, the Sun Devils might have another mid-year JUCO transfer as one of its opening game starters at cornerback in Baloney. The 6-foot 190-pounder is a very good athlete -- he's looked nice returning kicks and punts when given a chance in special teams work - and he has great size for the position, but moves better than most corners with that type of listing. He's fluid and has a natural ability to play the position. As he continues to become technically proficient, he could explode into being a critical component.

11. Lance Evbuomwan -- Watching Evbuomwan play with the third and/or forth teams is almost humorous at times, especially in live situations and scrimmages. He's just so physically gifted that it sticks out like a sore thumb when he's lined up with a lot of walk-ons and scout team players. Just 17 years old, Evbuomwan is over 250 pounds and not even close to being as strong and athletic as he's going to be in another couple of years. He's an underrated athlete with long arms and big, soft hands and he's impressed us more than others at the position. It would be nice to redshirt him, but that may not be possible.


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