ASU's Strong, Randall named SI.com All-Americans
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Sports Illustrated mentioning Arizona State receiver Jaelen Strong and defensive back Damarious Randall on its All-American team simultaneously brought about two questions concerning the future of Sun Devil football.
Strong, who earned a second-team nod from SI, could forego his senior season to enter the NFL draft. There's a very real possibility he is a Day 1 selection, and that curiously goes hand-in-hand with Strong not being included on the Associated Press' three All-American teams, which also was released Tuesday.
Unsurprisingly, ASU coach Todd Graham found the AP list a little baffling considering Strong's draft stock and his production this season. Strong caught 75 balls for 1,062 yards and 10 touchdowns.
"I'm not in control of (the AP voting) so there's not anything I can do about it," Graham said of the AP All-American team. "Would I vote him All-American? Of course I would."
While Strong has a decision to make, Randall has less of a choice.
He led ASU with 101 tackles and three picks this year, and despite being a redshirt senior is eyeing the possibility of returning in 2015.
Randall started his college career playing baseball at Butler Community College in 2010-11, but a shoulder injury led him to leave the school -- as well as baseball. After transferring to Mesa Community College and redshirting the 2011 football season, a strong year playing at the junior college level in 2012 led to Division I schools calling.
After committing to the Sun Devils, Randall enjoyed two productive seasons. Now, ASU is hoping Randall's unique situation that began his collegiate athletic career will allow for another year of eligibility.
Graham doesn't have much of a grasp for how their submitted waiver for an extra season will be received by the NCAA.
"We'll see what happens with it," Graham said. "We think we got a legitimate chance. He's got to get some documentation from doctors and stuff. There's a chance ... until I've seen the documentation, I don't know how good a chance."
Another year, another round of worries ASU's offensive mastermind could be tempted to lead his own team.
Offensive coordinator Mike Norvell received interest from Arkansas State and Aurburn last season. The Sun Devils made sure to keep their top assistant by promoting him to deputy head coach and making him one of the highest paid assistants in the country.
This year, Norvell already turned down the opportunity to return to Tulsa, where he first coached under Graham.
ASU's head coach doesn't seem worried about losing his top assistant.
"You're never ready to be a head coach," Graham quipped. "You just do it. He's got such a great job here, it's got to be a big-time job before he decides to leave here. With success, those things come. Obviously, Tulsa showed great interest in him, but I think it's going to take a really good job (to take Norvell from ASU) because he's got a really good job here. I'm confident he's going to be here with us."
Graham returned to practice on Tuesday after a visit to El Paso, Texas, in preparation for the Sun Bowl. While he was away, ASU held out its regulars and gave its younger players run during practice.
After watching video of the Monday practice, Graham came away impressed with a number of freshmen.
He listed defensive lineman Connor Humphreys, defensive back DeAndre Scott, quarterback Manny Wilkins and offensive linemen Sam Jones and Quinn Bailey as standouts.