TEMPE, Ariz. — Arizona State freshman running back D.J. Foster and freshman defensive lineman Jaxon Hood could be starting when ASU opens the season Aug. 30, coach Todd Graham said Tuesday.
“I don’t know that I’ve seen better freshman football players than those guys,” Graham said. “Both those guys I project as starting on game day.”
Hardly a day has passed since fall camp began Aug. 3 that Graham has not mentioned one or both true freshmen following a practice session. His reviews of the their play have only grown more glowing, and it seemed certain both would contribute this season — though it now appears they’ll do more than that.
Foster, Graham’s top recruit and a product of Saguaro High School in Scottsdale, could get significant carries behind No. 1 running back Cameron Marshall and also see time at receiver.
“I really wanted to play as a true freshman, and as of now I can only control how hard I work,” Foster said recently. “I’m just trying to work as hard as I can to show them I can play right now as a freshman.”
Graham has specifically mentioned Foster’s mental maturity, toughness and big-play ability as things that have impressed so far.
Hood’s potential as a starter is even more surprising than Foster’s. Modestly recruited out of Chandler Hamilton High School due to concerns about his size, Hood did not commit to ASU until National Signing Day. He’s admitted to playing with a chip on his shoulder, and on Tuesday the payoff for his dogged work ethic materialized as he took the field with the first-team defense.
“To me he hasn’t really been a surprise because I know his work ethic, his attitude, his temperament,” ASU co-defensive coordinator Paul Randolph said last week. “You would think that he’s an upperclassman the way he works and the way he displays mental maturity.”