Jaelen Strong

Arizona State announces three captains for 2015 season

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Who’s ready for some actual football talk?

Senior quarterback Mike Bercovici, senior wide receiver D.J. Foster, and senior safety Jordan Simone will serve as Arizona State’s captains for the 2015 season, the club announced Tuesday.

Bercovici played in all 13 games a year ago, filling in for starter Taylor Kelly during an extended mid-season stretch, completing 115-of-186 passes for 1,445 yards with 12 touchdowns and four interceptions. Foster led the Sun Devils in rushing a year ago with 194 carries for 1,081 yards and nine touchdowns while grabbing 62 passes for 688 yards and three touchdowns. He figures to see an increased role in 2015 after the departure of Jaelen Strong and a spring injury to Cameron Smith.

Simone ranked second on the team in tackles with 100 stops, 4.5 TFL, one sack, two interceptions, one forced fumble, two fumble recoveries, and two passes defended.

The Sun Devils also designated senior cornerback Lloyd Carrington, senior center Nick Kelly and junior linebacker Laiu Moeakiola as co-captains. And for the first time under head coach Todd Graham, Arizona State named special teams captains, with junior kicker Zane Gonzalez and sophomore defensive back DeAndre Scott winning the honors.

WR Devin Lucien goes from Bruins to Sun Devils

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As it happens, Devin Lucien‘s transfer will be an intraconference and an intradivision one.

Overnight, ESPN.com‘s Joe Schad first reported and the Arizona Republic‘s Doug Haller subsequently confirmed, Lucien revealed that he has decided transfer to Arizona State and finish out his collegiate career playing for the Sun Devils.  The move, which has yet to be confirmed by ASU, comes nearly a month after the wide receiver decided to leave UCLA.

According to the player, a current Sun Devil factored into his decision.

As noted in the tweet above, Lucien will enter ASU as a graduate transfer, which means he will be eligible to play immediately in 2015.  And, with the Sun Devils looking for help in replacing Jaelen Strong’s lost production (82-1,165-10) and losing Cameron Smith (41-596-6) to a March knee injury that will cost him the entire 2015 season, having Lucien onboard will certainly aid in that endeavor.

Last season, Lucien’s 29 receptions were second on the team, although he averaged just 7.8 yards per catch.  During summer camp leading up to the 2014 season, Lucien sustained a head injury in practice serious enough that he was taken to a local hospital via ambulance.  Released the following day, Lucien passed a concussion test and returned to practice less than a week later.

In 2013, Lucien overcame a back injury to start three of the 13 games in which he played, catching 10 passes for 208 yards. The year before, he was the team’s third-leading receiver (10-188) before a broken clavicle knocked him out for the remainder of the regular season.

Lucien’s loss to UCLA, on the other hand, will be a minimal one as, outside of him, the Bruins will return their top seven leading pass catchers.

The Bruins, incidentally, will host the Sun Devils Oct. 3 of this year.  Those two programs, UCLA in 2011 and 2012 and ASU in 2013, combined to win the first three Pac-12 South titles before Arizona wrested the the division crown away in 2014.

Twenty-six players invited to NFL Draft

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Ah, the NFL Draft. It’s that awkward in-between time when the likes of Jameis WinstonLeonard Williams, et al, aren’t college football players anymore but they aren’t really NFL players yet, either.

Nevertheless, it’s the last time the newest crop of NFL players will be identified primarily by their college, and on Tuesday the NFL released the list of 26 players invited to hear their names (and schools) called over Chicago’s Auditorium Theatre on Thursday, April 30.

They are as follows:

Arik Armstead, DL, Oregon
Vic Beasley, DE/LB, Clemson
La’El Collins, OL, LSU
Landon Collins, DB, Alabama
Bud Dupree, LB, Kentucky
Cameron Erving, OL, Florida State
Dante Fowler, DL/LB, Florida
Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
Randy Gregory, DE/LB, Nebraska
Todd Gurley, LB, Georgia
D.J. Humphries, OL, Florida
Kevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest
Byron Jones, CB, Connecticut
Bernardrick McKinney, LB, Mississippi State
DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville
Andrus Peat, OL, Stanford
Breshad Perriman, WR, Central Florida
Shane Ray, DL, Missouri
Brandon Scherff, OL, Iowa
Danny Shelton, DL, Washington
Devin Smith, WR, Ohio State
Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State
Laken Tomlinson, OL, Duke
Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State
Kevin White, WR, West Virginia
Leonard Williams, DL, USC

 

Injury costs Sun Devils their leading returning receiver for 2015 season

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The Arizona State offense already knew it would have to replace All-Pac-12 wide receiver Jaelen Strong, who left early for the NFL draft.  Now, the Sun Devils will have to replace the player who was thought to have the best shot at replacing the lost production as well.

Tuesday afternoon, head coach Todd Graham announced that Cameron Smith recently underwent surgery for a knee issue that’s reportedly been bothering him for some time.  As a result, Smith will miss not only the remainder of spring practice, but the entire 2015 season as well.

It goes without saying that this is a significant blow to ASU’s passing attack.

Last season, Smith was third on the team in receptions (41) and receiving yards (596), and was second in receiving touchdowns with six.  That means that, with the losses of Smith and Strong, the Sun Devils will be looking to replace a total of 123 receptions, 1,761 yards and 16 touchdowns.  That’s nearly half the team’s total of 281/3,556/34.

Outside of running back-turned-slot receiver D.J. Foster, tight end Kody Kohl‘s 16 receptions and four receiving touchdowns, and Gary Chambers‘ 204 receiving yards are now the top numbers from returning players.

The injury news comes one day after reports surfaced that JUCO transfer Davon Durant, expected to start at linebacker this season, had been indefinitely suspended following an arrest on charges related to a reported domestic violence incident.

Arizona State WR Jaelen Strong to enter NFL Draft

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Arizona State wide receiver Jaelen Strong announced Monday through the Devils’ sports information department that he will be playing his football as a professional in 2015 rather than return to school for his senior season.

“This has been one of the most difficult decisions of my life.  I’ve spoken to my family and we feel it is best for me to declare for the 2015 NFL Draft,” Strong said in a statement.

Strong was a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award (given to Alabama’s Amari Cooper), a First Team All-Pac-12 performer and a member of five All-America teams this fall. The Philadelphia native was college football’s 15th-leading receiver with 75 grabs for 1,062 yards and 10 touchdowns despite missing Washington State and its 127th-rated pass defense in late November. His best game came against USC on Oct. 4 as he snared 10 receptions for 202 yards and three touchdowns, including a 46-yarder as time expired to lift the Sun Devils to a 38-34 win.

“Jaelen’s enormous impact was felt from the first day he stepped on the practice field with us more than 16 months ago. His work ethic, attention to detail and overall football IQ are just a few of his attributes that make him such a special talent,” said head coach Todd Graham.”It has been a great pleasure to watch him grow into the young man he has become – a leader off the field and a giver in his community.”

Strong earned Second Team All-Pac-12 honors as a sophomore in 2013 after collecting 75 receptions for 1,122 yards and seven scores.

The 6-3 pass catcher was Mel Kiper’s 17th-rated wide receiver in October.

Strong will close his college career in the Hyundai Sun Bowl against Duke on Saturday (2 p.m. ET, CBS).