The Arizona State Sun Devils are poised for a breakout season in 2013, and there will surely be some freshmen who become household names come year's end.
Last year, D.J. Foster made an immediate impact for ASU as a true freshman.
Foster accounted for over 1,000 all-purpose yards and scored six touchdowns last year. His unique playmaking ability made him an asset even as a freshman.
This year, there are a few young guns looking to make names for themselves just like Foster did.
Look for Cameron Smith, Marcus Ball and Zane Gonzalez to each have an immediate impact on ASU's success in 2013.
ASU had plenty of problems with its wide receivers last season. Therefore, it was important for head coach Todd Graham to sign some guys who would be able to bolster the talent level of that group.
Smith is one of those guys.
He runs a 4.40 40-yard dash, is 6'0'' and has a good set of hands. His high school coach Joe McBride says Smith is a good talent on the field but an even better guy off of it, per the school's official website:
He's a tremendous player who's extremely fast. He's a smart kid with great character who is a great route runner and has great hands. He's a very humble and quiet kid off the field, but on the field he is a fierce competitor and always plays hard
Smith seems to be a perfect fit for Graham's style.
Brad Denny of AZfamily.com asked Smith what fans should expect from his game in 2013, and in the words of Ricky Bobby, he said he wants to go fast:
Speed for sure. That's what they tell me, at least. I'm really driven to succeed, so that I can help the team out. I'm not proud of what I've done so far. I have a long ways to go, in my opinion. I just think that I have something I can improve upon.
While he probably won't see extended playing time until later in the year when he knows the system better, Smith is still someone offensive coordinator Mike Norvell can throw out there to stretch the field or possibly run a few times.
His blazing speed makes his a threat anytime he has the ball in his hands.
OK, maybe Ball won't be able to make an immediate impact for ASU due to his recent injury, but when his shoulder heals expect him to make some big plays on defense.
Ball is a physical safety who can play the pass and run. He played quarterback and safety in high school and signed with ASU as an athlete.
He could really make an impact on both sides of the ball, but it appears likely that after his injury his spot will be with the defense.
Ball is one of those players who has a nose for making plays, and he's shown that in practice.
Graham told AZcentral.com's Doug Haller he wants Ball on the field saying, “I’m going to have a hard time not finding a place for him because of his athleticism and what he can do."
There was even talk that Ball would become a starting safety as a true freshman before he went down with his shoulder injury.
Once he's back and healthy, though, expect Ball to be on the field somewhere and to make big plays.
For the past few years, the kicking position has garnered its fair share of hatred and disdain from Sun Devil fans.
Between Thomas Weber and Alex Garoutte, the Sun Devils have seen wins fall just short or flutter wide.
Gonzalez may be the solution.
Doug Haller writes that while ASU's kicking game was a major concern this offseason, Gonzalez has solidified the position:
Freshman Zane Gonzalez has performed brilliantly on field goals. Through three weeks, special-teams coach Joe Lorig said Gonzalez made 92 percent of his attempts with a long of 49 yards. Last season, the Sun Devils made 65 percent of 23 attempts.
That's music to any Sun Devils' ears.
Gonzalez made every kick and extra point during his senior year and missed only two kicks his junior year.
Fans should expect Gonzalez to finally provide some quality and stability to ASU's kicking game in 2013.
All stats and info, unless otherwise indicated, come from ESPN.com and thesundevils.com.
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