Upon Coach Todd Graham’s arrival in Tempe after the 2011 season, he proclaimed that he was a big fan of college football tradition, specifically those housed within the ASU football program. Truthfully, there is none bigger for the universities in Arizona than the Sun Devils heading up the hill 13 miles beyond Payson in the fall to resume what legendary coach Frank Kush initiated in 1960. After a four year hiatus between 2008-2011, the Sun Devils returned for an abbreviated “Camp T” stint before the 2012 season that culminated in a memorable Saturday scrimmage. Sun Devil Nation had ponied up the funds to restore the practice site, and backed that up with over 5,000 fans attending what turned out to be our first glimpse of last season’s 8-5 Sun Devils.
Tontozona, at 5,312 foot elevation offers a reprieve from the sweltering heat in the desert, but more importantly, a chance for players and coaches to leave behind all of the distractions in Tempe. No cell phone service, no television, rudimentary housing conditions, team bonding and that ever-so-anticipated cracking of the pads that only a fall camp can provide. It is an invaluable “back-to-the-basics” venue that must be credited to Coach Graham’s work at overhauling ASU Football’s culture.
The 2013-2014 Devils have been tabbed by many as favorites to win the Pac-12 South Division and challenge for a Rose Bowl birth. The extended stay in the pines this year will be a positive segue heading into what is sure to be one of the more memorable football seasons in decades. ASU is coming off of impressive wins in the final two games of the 2012 regular season and a complete domination of Navy in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. Momentum, expectations, optimism and talent levels across the roster are all solid.
If you were at Camp Tontozona last year, you are fully aware that many of the all-time Sun Devil greats were in attendance and certainly will be this year. They fully back this great tradition having been a part of it during their playing days. To a man they will tell you that it was one of the best experiences of their playing career at ASU… not IN SPITE of the tough conditions, but BECAUSE of the tough conditions. This is a tradition like no other for both the fans and the student-athletes, and in a way, the line separating the two fades away on the field cut out of the mountain.
Last year right after the Saturday scrimmage, the Sun Devil gods sent a torrential downpour to give us a final cool down before heading back to the valley. I ran for cover under a pine tree and found myself with one other person, Coach Frank Kush. You would think it was the sunniest day of Camp when looking at the big smile on the good ol’ coach’s face… and mine. Attendees of Camp T are DieHard Devils. Are you? Prove it.
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Camp Tontozona Dates: August 12-17 with scrimmage on 8/17. DieHardDevil.com will post practice and scrimmage information heading into Fall Camp. Stay tuned. For more pictures from last years Camp, check out the gallery.
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