Feb 25, 2014 - 09:56 am -
Football Alum, Derek Hagan, on the sidelines of Frank Kush Field
First of all, Derek. It's great to catch up with arguably the greatest all-around receiver at Arizona State.
So you’re living in Houston right now. What are you up to?
Derek Hagan: I’m doing some work out here with Comcast Sports Net. Sports entertainment is a field that I'd like to get into, and I was fortunate enough for them to bring me on. I’m doing some on-camera work and learning to use the teleprompter, things like that. We did some stuff during the regular season, and right now we're covering the NFL combine. I'm very thankful that Comcast is helping me out and showing me how they do things.
You studied Business and Justice Law while at ASU. Did your interest in sports media evolve during your professional career?
Derek Hagan: When I was in college, business was what I was interested in. If I could go back, I probably would have considered a communications degree or possibly sports marketing. I just went a different route at the time. Since I’ve been a football player my whole life, I’ve learned how much sports is about entertainment. People live and die for sports. That’s what they love.
Hagan at Camp T
Have you considered coaching?
I have thought about coaching, but I'm not 100% sure about it yet. If I was to start, I would want to start small as in training wide receivers one-on-one.
Over the past 7 years, you've been with several teams in the league. Are you in training right now and what is your current status in the NFL?
Derek Hagan: I’m still training and still staying in shape. I’m giving it one more go this year. I didn’t play last season which was the first time in 15 to 20 that I didn't played the game. It's been an eye-opener because I’ve come to terms that my NFL career might be over since I didn’t play. But I’m giving it one more shot.
I’m coming out for ASU’s Pro Day in March to run a few routes and get a some new exposure with the scouts. My agent is doing the work necessary to hopefully get me back into a uniform. If not, I’ll be ready to do something new.
Hagan in Silver & Black
So I understand when you signed with the Miami Dolphins after your senior season, you were still a couple units shy of graduating. Now I hear you've earned your degree. How did that come together?
Derek Hagan: First of all, it means a whole lot to me to have finally earned my degree. It's something that I worked really hard for at ASU, and that was always the main priority while I was in school. (Derek became the very first "Scholar Baller" in the country, the program that ASU's Jean Boyd co-founded to recognize student athletes with high performance in the classroom).
I wish I would have gotten my degree before I left ASU because I only needed two more credits. So it was either now or never, and I’m really glad I did it. No one can ever take that away from you. I earned those credits by shadowing a teacher and speaking to classes at UCF (University of Central Florida). And now it's official. I've got my diploma on my wall, and now I can finally say that I'm an alumni of Arizona State. It's a great feeling.
In the next 3-5 years, where would you ideally see yourself?
Derek Hagan: If I don’t sign with a team, I’m considering continuing my education and getting a Masters Degree in Communications. It could go a long way in helping me in a new career.
Ultimately, I'd love to be in the booth. It would be great to get back to Arizona State or possibly the Pac-12 Network. I know the game pretty well, and that’s what I love. I’m the type of guy who likes to travel and likes to be around the game. I’d also like to be on the sidelines to interview players and stuff. To me, it’s not just about the things that athletes do on the field. It's also about the stuff they get done off the field which people don’t normally talk about.
Documentary follows Derek Hagan and three other NFL hopefuls as they prepare for the NFL Draft
On that note, you were in a great documentary that gave a behind-the-scenes look at you and three other players as you prepared for the NFL Draft back in 2005. What was that like?
Derek Hagan: The documentary is called "Two Days in April." It gives you a look at the whole process, and shows how things really are for the players trying to make it. I was with three or four other guys at the IMG Academy in Florida where agents and trainers prepared us for the combine. It wasn't just about the physical training. They also taught us how to present ourselves to teams and sit down with them. After a few months, we forgot the cameras were even there, and it got real.
Teachers have shown it to their students as a tool to let them see things that they can't see on the field. It’s got a 5-star rating on Netflix which is pretty cool. Being in that film was probably the start of my interest in Sports Entertainment. (Here's a review of "Two Days in April".)
You grew up in Palmdale, California and were a star athlete at Palmdale High School. I heard you got to know Demario Richard, another standout from Palmdale and one of ASU’s three incoming running backs.
Derek Hagan: I’ve been following Demario the last 3 years. He was playing varsity as a 14-year old. He’s been the cream of the crop for Palmdale which has always been a successful program, but he’s taken that team to new places. As a running back, he’s just demolished teams. It’s been unbelievable to see the kind of points they’ve been putting up. Knowing that he’s headed to ASU and he's a Palmdale guy, I couldn’t be happier for him.
I’ve told him they’ve got two other guys coming in, and that nothing will be given to him. He’s got to go our there, embrace it and take it. He has to work hard day in and day out and lead by example. I can’t wait 'til he gets started.
Hagan's ASU Student Athlete Photo
What’s Demario like as a kid?
Derek Hagan: He’s outgoing. He’s 17-years old with big, bright eyes who knows he's getting ready to go off to college. He’s taking that next step towards his goal of ultimately playing professional sports. He’s just real excited and can’t wait to get out there and put on that Maroon & Gold uniform.
(Laughing) You know, just talking about it makes me want to put that jersey on again.
You were out for the Spring Game last year then the SC game when you were honored for your accomplishments at ASU. You’ve also been pretty vocal and supportive of the program on Twitter. What are your thoughts about Todd Graham and the revived culture around ASU?
Derek Hagan: This program is on the rise. It's been a while since we've been able to get over that hump to be consistently successful. I love what Graham is doing. He’s brought a different mentality. These guys are hungry, and I’ve never seen anything like it. Every player is disciplined. I don’t think there’s any guys on the team that have bad character.
Graham brings that team-first mentality and discipline. I’m looking forward to ASU dominating the Pac-12 South for years to come. It starts with recruiting and getting the right guys, and they’re getting it done right now. With winning comes more fans. More recruits will want to come in. Then comes more revenue. It’s just great to be a Sun Devil right now.
When you’re at a game or watching the Devils on TV, do you view it as an player or as a fan. What’s your perspective?
Derek Hagan: I watch it as both. As a player, I can tell what’s about to happen on the field and sometimes I'm critiquing where players need to be. At the same time I’m yelling at the tv when there's a turnover or a score. That’s just how it goes.
When you were a recruit as a high school senior, why did you commit to the Sun Devils?
ASU was the only team to offer me a scholarship as a Wide Receiver. I had originally committed to UNLV, but after my visit to ASU I knew where I wanted to be. As they say, “I’M A SUN DEVIL MAN!"
As a Sun Devil, was there a game or a play that you’ll always remember?
Derek Hagan: There was probably two plays I’ll remember most. One was against Iowa. I was in the back of the end-zone, and as I caught the ball over the Iowa defender, he ripped my helmet off. That was a game that no one thought we could win, and we beat them 44-7. It was a great game for a lot of guys on the team.
The other was when we played UCLA out there. I think I scored 3 touchdowns, and on the last one I ran a stop and go on the corner then caught a 40-yard touchdown to pretty much win the game. (This was the 2004 game in which ASU beat UCLA 48-42).
When you came out of the tunnel for home games, what effect did the fans have?
Derek Hagan: There’s nothing like it. You want that support. When you’re in Tillman Tunnel, you can hear the fans all around you, and it's loud. You can feel that energy. When the fans are into it, it really pushes players further.
Sun Devil Receiver #80 Derek Hagan (2002-2005)
Looking at your life at this point with all of the experiences, how do you view your time at ASU?
Derek Hagan: College was the best time in my life. Those were the greatest 4 years ever. You’re not worried about a lot of things. In college, it’s hard work, but it mainly consisted of going to class and playing football with a hundred other guys. That was the focus. I met some of the greatest guys I could ever meet and to this day we're still friends. College only happens once, and when it’s over it’s a different game.
Time has moved extremely fast. I can’t believe it’s been almost 10 years since I was at ASU.
Have you met current Sun Devil receiver, Jaelen Strong?
Yes, I've met Jaelen. I’m excited for what he brings to the table. I love watching him make plays. Now we just need someone on the opposite side of him to step up and make some plays also.
I wanted to get your response to something. We tweeted out that we’d be doing this interview with you and tagged Jaelen. Maybe you saw his reply. Do you have a response?
Derek Hagan: He said what?! I would say he’s got a lot of work to do. He’s got his first 1,000-yard season under his belt. If he does it again, then I’ll really take him seriously (laughing). Jaelen’s the cream of the crop right now, and to do that right out of JC, he’s proven himself. I hope he can keep it going because I’m rooting for him.
Last question, Derek. Are you a DieHard Sun Devil?
Derek Hagan: Of course.
Derek Hagan: I'm a DieHard Devil because ASU believed in me, and I believe in them 24/7/365. I can say that ASU is the greatest university on earth. There’s just nothing like wearing that Maroon & Gold. Period.
Sun Devil for Life
Feb 12, 2014 - 05:01 pm - Sun Devil Freshman, Keely Mc Manaman, at home in Huntington Beach
Arizona State's student body will always be an integral part of the fan base. They are, after all, classmates of the Sun Devil student-athletes who represent ASU. Their involvement with Sun Devil football & athletics along with their overall experience at ASU sets the stage for them to become engaged, life long Sun Devils.
I always enjoy meeting one of these newest Devils. They are a reminder of the character and talent of ASU undergraduates. It's cool to get a sense of what ASU Football means to them, and where they fall into the spectrum of Sun Devil Nation.
I recently came across some photos shot by Keely McManaman, an ASU freshman Communications major. I wanted to see about including them on the site and learning a little bit about her story.
Keely's a poster child for a kid who has emersed herself in the new world of being on her own, and she's not taking college life for granted.
"One year ago today I was diagnosed with cancer, and I decided I would get a tattoo. It includes the dates for when I was diagnosed with neck cancer and when I became cancer free in December. The font is my surgeons handwriting. He saved my life and is my hero. This means so much to me, I am beyond happy with it."
Looking west from the bridge to Palm Walk over University Drive (photo, Keely McManaman)
About why she chose to attend Arizona State, Keely said, "I have never been part of a school that had a lot of school spirit so this is one of the reasons that made me choose ASU. I guess you can say we had spirit at my high school, but it was kind of fake. At Arizona State, the students, professors, faculty and the whole town of Tempe is dedicated to ASU from any angle."
There are a lot of great young people in Tempe who, even though they've been in school a short time, already have a lot of pride to consider themselves Sun Devils. Take a stroll down Palm Walk, and you'll see more Maroon & Gold than ever today.
"Whether it be sports or academics, everyone is always engaged, and that is what I have always wanted in a school. I now finally have it," Keely said. "ASU has more to offer to me and my fellow students then I could ever imagine and that is why I am proud to be a Sun Devil."
Even though she casually says that taking pictures is a hobby, Keely looks like a natural. I'm sure we'll be seeing more great shots from her as she continues her journey at ASU.
When I think back to my freshman year in Tempe, I can't help but be excited for someone in Keely's shoes.
(photo, Keely McManaman)
(photo, Keely McManaman)
(photo, Keely McManaman)
(photo, Keely McManaman)
(photo, Keely McManaman)
(photo, Keely McManaman)
(photo, Keely McManaman)
Keely McManaman got this tattoo to remember the day she was diagnosed with neck cancer and the day she became cancer-free. Forks Up, young Devil.
Feb 11, 2014 - 05:51 pm -
If you follow ASU Basketball to some degree, then you know about the spitting incident that occurred at the Arizona State-Oregon basketball game in Wells Fargo Arena. Unfortunately things like this make for attractive stories in the media, and this was picked up by sources like USA Today and CBS Sports.
According to The Oregonian, Portland's daily newspaper, an ASU student spit on an Oregon assistant coach and trainer as the Ducks came off the court following ASU's 74-72 victory on Saturday.
After the game, Oregon Head Coach, Dana Altman, claimed that Wells Fargo Arena at ASU has a security issue in that opposing teams have to essentially walk through the student section to get on and off the court.
Saturday's game drew nearly 9,000 fans. Their was a heightened atmosphere in the arena and the game drew plenty of emotion. In the first half the Devils harnessed all home court advantage to go up by 10, 15, even 20 points. It was enough to get thousands of fans off their seats with roaring applause during a time-out.
In the first half Oregon guard, Jason Calliste, roamed in front of the student section while venting his frustration on a play in which he thought he was fouled. This resulted in some taunts from the students. Then Castille and one student exchanged words, before a coach went over to calm him down.
The Ducks were miserable, hitting 25% of their shots and 1 of 13 three-pointers. At halftime, as Oregon headed off the court down 20 points, Castille "mock-threw an elbow in the direction of a student yelling at him," as The Oregonian described. You can hear a first hand account of the altercation.
The tension in the arena grew in the second as half as the Sun Devils lost all momentum only to watch Oregon fought it's way back to a 2-point lead. The Ducks were trying desperately to shake off 7 losses in their last 9 games. The play was physical and emotional, and at one point Oregon center Waverly Austin received a flagrant foul on a play that knocked ASU forward Shaquielle McKissic to the the floor.
At the final buzzer, Sun Devil center Jordan Bachynski blocked a lay-up by Joseph Young to seal the ASU victory.
* * *
Having served as a leader of the student section and one of the original creators of the 942 Crew, these are my thoughts and message:
To the spitter
Until you learn to be civilized, please stop attending Sun Devil Athletics events. If you're the kind of person who thinks that spitting on anyone is an appropriate way to behave, then you have no place at a sporting event. Your actions have reflected poorly on the Sun Devil Nation and in an era of positive culture change, this is not what we want.
To those who blame the entire student section
This one incident in no way reflects on the student section as a whole. Yes, earlier this year a student was escorted from the arena because they threw an object onto the court. That situation was dealt with because students pointed out the offender to security.
The fact is that the student section's 942 Crew has done an excellent job of creating a significant home court advantage. These isolated incidents are a byproduct of their success, and I can assure you that this is being handled internally. Although dealing with this incident is no fun, I much prefer the raucous student section we have today over what we've seen in the past.
To the students
Obviously you don't know if some fellow classmate is going to spit on the opposing team or throw an object onto the court, BUT you can help in creating a classy environment where opposing teams feel intimidated, but not to the extent that resulted on Saturday.
On the issue of the visiting locker room location
Even as a student it amazed me that the visiting tunnel is located in the jaws of the student section, the only such set up in the conference. I have seen plenty of teams (and coaches) walk through the tunnel taunting the students and egging them on, just as I've seen students yelling right back. Saturday's incident generated a knee jerk reaction with a couple folks calling for a redesign of ASU's student section. That's taking it too far. Should there be tighter security? Maybe. If a pattern persists, that would change things.
* * *
As a new alumn of Arizona State, I'm proud of the energy and passion that comes from our undergraduates. I can also tell you that the leadership of organizations like the 942 Crew and the university that supports them is in good hands.
With the team from Tucson visiting Wells Fargo Arena Friday night, the 942 Crew will be fired up.
Time to crush the cats.
Feb 09, 2014 - 07:48 pm - Have you ever had a relationship end because the other person left you for someone else, someone they perceived to be "better?" Well a couple months ago this happened to Sun Devil Athletics when Steve Patterson left for Texas.
Personally, I hope we can bump into Patterson at a restaurant with our new hot athletic director on our arm and championship rings on our fingers, just to show him what he's missing. Now that the seas of anger have calmed, I think it's time to open up that pint of Cherry Garcia and reflect on the good times we had with Mr. Patterson.
Steve Patterson, former Chief Operating Officer and Athletic Director of Sun Devil Athletics
1. Hiring Todd Graham
I know technically Lisa Love was still AD when Graham was hired, but Steve Patterson had already been brought in. The writing on the wall was pretty clear that Love was heading out and Patterson would likely be her successor. That being said, Patterson was part of the team that brought Graham on board and thus fueled a complete culture change throughout the entirety of the athletic department.
2. Culture Change
The aforementioned culture change that has been fueled by Coach Graham was possible because Patterson allowed Graham the freedom he needed to operate. He also took Graham's philosophies and spread them throughout the entire department and to all sports. Within his first few months Patterson was dedicated to changing the fan experience for all Sun Devil Athletics by promoting a more inviting and enticing experience for fans. I personally sat on a committee that was surveyed and dedicated to creating a better game day experience across all sports. That was facilitated by Patterson.
3. Hiring of Craig Nicholson
Coaching hires and fires can make or break an Athletic Director's tenure. When ASU Softball Coach Clint Meyers left our storied program for Auburn, there was a lot of concern about who would take the reigns. Patterson knocked it out of the park by hiring Craig Nicholson from Ball State where he built a largely successful program. Additionally, he spent 11 seasons at Central Arizona College, one of which was under Meyers. Nicholson understands the prowess of Sun Devil Softball and knows the local recruiting extremely well.
4. National Prominence
Steve Patterson, ASU's former AD, announced Sun Devil Baseball's future home at Phoenix Municipal Stadium
There are several things that Steve Patterson did that are helping propel the Sun Devil brand to becoming one of the nation's elite. When Notre Dame wanted to back out of their contract to play a 2014 football game in Tempe, Patterson stood his ground. He went on the ESPNU Podcast with Ivan Maisel and said something to the effect of, "Only a force of nature can alter what is stated in the contract, and last I checked, joining the ACC isn't a force of nature." Patterson also set up a 2015 football game with SEC power Texas A&M.
5. Stadium Stuff
Steve Patterson had the unfortunate responsibility of facing facility issues. He was instrumental in planning the proposed face lift for Sun Devil Stadium that has fans and alumni drooling. It was especially good because the previous renderings of the redesign had fans grabbing torches and pitchforks (and not the good kind).
With Packard Stadium facing the wrecking ball, the previous regime was trying to work out something with the Chicago Cubs new stadium in Mesa, much to the dismay of...well...everyone. Patterson came in and took his lemons and turned them into lemonade by creating a new home for Sun Devil Baseball at Phoenix Municipal Stadium come 2015. While some are not happy with the move, the new home is much preferred to the alternative (either a huge stadium that doesn't belong to us, or a pile of rubble in a parking lot).
6. Hiring of Rocky Harris
ASU's Rocky Harris
Finally, one of Steve Patterson's most important accomplishments was hiring Sr. Associate AD for External Relations, Rocky Harris. Harris is a rising star and ASU alum who has quickly made a name for himself by thinking big and getting things done. Having someone like Rocky Harris who knows the traditions and pulse of the Sun Devil Nation in an executive position is advantageous to the Nth degree. You can check out Harris' many accolades here.
Wasn't that a fun trip down memory lane? The good news is that the department is in much better shape than when Patterson arrived in Tempe, and we have him to thank for it. And despite Patterson's brief tenure, ASU President Michael Crow turned around and replaced him with a respected NFL executive, Ray Anderson. Andersons brings with him an impressive resume in the sports industry and valuable relationships with other influential individuals.
So while some of us want Texas football to go 0-12 this upcoming season, it's ok to give our past AD credit where credit is due. Qualified leaders are in place to further advance ASU's national brand, and significant advancements in Sun Devil Athletics are already underway.
* * *
Want to learn more about ASU's new Athletic Director, Ray Anderson? Then you'll like this. Tomorrow, Tuesday February 11 at 5:30 p.m. MT, get on the conference call/ fan forum with Ray. He will be covering more details about the renovation of Sun Devil Stadium amongst other things, along with a Q&A.
Call 877-229-8493 and use the ID 19543 at 5:30 p.m. MT to participate.
Arizona State University's new Vice President for University Athletics, Ray Anderson
Want to prove you're a DieHard Sun Devil? Join the Sun Devil Club. -DieHard Devil
Jan 27, 2014 - 10:22 am -
Tyrice Thompson with a thrilling TD reception in the Territorial Cup
One year ago on January 27, 2013, Tyrice Thompson was stabbed multiple times while working as a bouncer at a Downtown Scottsdale night club. Five days later on February 2, he succumbed to the wounds and passed away.
Tyrice Thompson played football at Arizona State and was best friends with fellow Sun Devil teammate, Rudy Burgess. The two met in 2004 at their first team meeting with ASU’s newly signed recruiting class.
Burgess recalls, “When we first met, we didn’t really hit it off. You know, we were just kids sizing up the rest of the guys in the room, seeing who’s who and all that.” But soon, Rudy said Tyrice, who was born & raised in Phoenix, would show up to meetings with different air-brushed Sun Devil t-shirts and matching shoes. “I was like wow, I’ve never seen this stuff in California (Rudy is from outside of Lancaster). I thought he was pretty cool.” Soon the two would hang out.
“Tyrice would come over to my place a lot, or I would go over there, and we would just have conversations about football and stuff,” Rudy said. Rudy still lives in the same place today as he did since his junior year at ASU where he became a stand-out athlete. He lives with his fiance, Brandi Lammon, who also became close to Tyrice and his family since attending ASU. Brandi said that Rudy was kind of a son to Tyrice's parents, Richard & Nancy.
Since playing together at Arizona State, Rudy and Tyrice’s friendship had evolved. Both had a love for music. Tyrice was actually in the process of recording some music when the incident occurred.
“We were both really passionate about Bob Marley and what he stood for. He had peaceful music, happy music,” Rudy said. Anytime one of us was going through a hard time or something like that, we always played the Bob Marley song ‘Trenchtown Rock.' That was definitely our favorite one.”
Tyrice Thompson with his sister, Torrie
For Rudy, he questioned the nature of the events that unfolded with the attack and ultimate passing of his best friend. Early Sunday morning January 27, 2013, Rudy said he woke up just before his alarm was set to go off. “It was odd. It was very early, around 5:00 am. I had set my alarm to get down to ASU for early team workouts." Rudy is a part of ASU's coaching staff. "I don’t know why I woke up.”
A couple minutes later, he got a phone call and saw that it was Richard Thompson, Tyrice’s Dad. Of course, he knew something was wrong. He answered the call, and Richard told Rudy about Tyrice being in the hospital.
Tyrice Thompson with his son, Takai
“I got off the phone and didn’t know if I was still dreaming. I walked into my living room and probably sat there in the dark for 3 or 4 minutes just trying to figure out what just happened. Then I pulled myself together and said this is real.”
The Thursday before Tyrice was attacked, Rudy brought him down to the football offices at Sun Devil Stadium. “I wanted to see if I could get Tyrice involved with ASU Football in some way.”
The following week after the incident while Tyrice was in the hospital, Rudy went down to his office at Sun Devil Stadium to clear his head. He sat with some of the players at lunch and told them what happened.
“They were like, that was your friend? We were just talking with him on Friday,” Rudy said. Tyrice had gone by the facilities again, the day after Rudy brought him. “He came into the locker room and was just talking to us. He was really inspirational and just sharing advice." One of the players said, "He told us that no matter what, we should listen to our own ability and our coaches because these coaches are going to do what’s in our best interest."
While he was still down in the football offices that day to clear his head, Rudy talked to ASU's Head Coach. “I saw Coach Graham and he told me, ‘Don’t come back here until your friend’s ok. You need to be at the hospital.”
On Friday night February 1, 2013, the night before Tyrice passed, doctors brought those close to him back to his hospital room. Tyrice had been on life support and was last coherent while in the ambulance that rushed him to the hospital five days earlier. Family and friends would see Tyrice one last time.
“All of the conversations people had with Tyrice that week were kind of one-sided, you know,” Rudy said. “I was one of the last people to go in to see Ty that night. There was no way I was going to leave that room until I played our song one last time. I grabbed my phone, opened Pandora and found my Bob Marley station. For 45 minutes to an hour, I kept forwarding songs until ‘Trenchtown Rock’ came on. I put the phone on Ty’s chest and held his hand as it played. It was really important to share that moment physically. Then I said a little prayer, and left.”
Rudy took this screen-shot of his phone as soon as he grabbed it off his night-stand
The next morning at 7:59 AM, Brandi who was communicating closely with Ty’s sister, Torrie Thompson, received a text. Rudy knew that Torrie was going to reach Brandi once Tyrice had passed.
Rudy warned me about what he was going to tell me next because, as he said, I wouldn't believe it. “As soon as Brandi got that text, I knew he was gone. I wanted to check to see if I received any messages from people, and before I could roll over in my bed and get my phone from the night stand, ‘Trenchtown Rock’ began playing. My phone was just sitting there on the table plugged into the charger, and Pandora came on and the song started playing.”
There was no explanation. A minute after his friend was pronounced dead, the song they both loved played. “It was really weird. I felt these chills throughout my whole body. That was Tyrice.”
* * *
There was a huge showing at the funeral service for Tyrice Thompson. Lots of people stepped to the front of the church to say some words about Tyrice including notable Sun Devil Football alumni, Preston Jones and Randy Hill.
“With all of these big football players and adults at the service, there was this little boy with glasses that walked up to the front of the church,” Brandi explained. "He said he didn’t know Tyrice but that he had saved his life."
"I guess five years ago, the boy and his family were at a local Mexican restaurant, and Tyrice was there," Brandi explained. "The boy said he had started choking on his food, and he locked eyes with Tyrice from across the room. He said that Ty ran over to him, pulled him out of his seat and performed a Heimlich maneuver in an instant. Later when the boy and his family left the restaurant, Tyrice signed an autograph for him.”
“This little kid got up in front of all those people because he wanted to tell that story. That quieted the church,” Brandi said. “Ty never said a thing to us about that, and we were really good friends... not even to say something crazy happened that night.”
Not long before they lost Tyrice, Rudy & Brandi announced that they were expecting their first child, a son. Brandi recalled when Tyrice was
Sun Devil #81 and Hometown Hero, Tyrice Thompson
over at their place a week before the incident. “He was our biggest cheerleader as soon as we got pregnant." Tyrice had his own son, Takai, and was a very good father. "So as soon as he found out about us, he was pretty involved and talked a lot about what it’s like to have a child,” she said.
“We were talking about possible middle names for our son," Brandi said. "Ty told us that you don’t just come up with a name, but that the name should come to you as a feeling. He said, 'You know you have picked the right one, because you will feel it.”
Later on that night before Ty left the house, he bent down to Brandi's belly, she explained. “Ty was 6’5” and I am 5’4". He came down to my belly and whispered something to our son. When I asked him what he said, Ty said it was a secret between him and his 'nephew.'"
"To this day, neither Rudy or I know what was said, but one thing is certain, our son and Tyrice will forever have a personal and private relationship.”
On May 27, 2013, Rudy & Brandi gave birth to their son. They named him Maddox Tyrice Burgess.
Tyrice Thompson on his 27th Birthday at Rudy & Brandi's Home. Sun Devil for Life.
* * *
Note: Now that the busiest time of the football season is over, Rudy & Brandi are scheduled to be married this summer. And since Maddox Tyrice weighed 7 lb.s, 11 oz.s when he was born last year, they've set the date of July 11 (7-11).
Brandi, Rudy & Maddox Tyrice
KPTV - FOX 12
Jan 17, 2014 - 03:47 pm -
It's been 20 years (1993) since a star quarterback from Idaho named Jake Plummer arrived at Arizona State. Jake will always be heralded by Sun Devil fans as one of the best quarterbacks ever to play for ASU. In his senior season, Jake was also one of the most exciting college football signal-callers in the nation.
In ASU's epic 1996 season, many close games turned into unbelievable Sun Devil victories, and they came on the toes of Jake Plummer, literally. It wasn't rare to watch plays unfold where the Devils looked like they were beat, and everyone in the stadium would sense it along with the opposing defense. But then Jake would rise up. He had this sixth sense to see opportunities when there were none. He would tuck the ball and tap dance around defensive linemen, often going untouched as they scratched and clawed at his jersey. Not only would he avoid the lost down, but Jake would pick-up crucial yards and then some.
#16 Jake Plummer in the 1997 Rose Bowl
Today, ASU's quarterback also hails from the state of Idaho. Taylor Kelly, who has naturally looked up to Jake Plummer, has also made a name for himself and could leave his own legacy in Tempe. With a third and final season to come, Kelly has already proven to be one of the most effective quarterbacks in the country.
Let's compare the production of Jake Plummer and Taylor Kelly. It's worth noting that Jake played in 9 games as a freshman. In fact, he was the first freshman to start as QB for ASU since 1984. Taylor, on the other hand took just 6 snaps as a freshman. Because of this, let's compare both players' sophomore and junior seasons-- first Jake and then Taylor.
Passing statistics for both QB's:
In 1994 and 1995, Plummer started all 22 games. At that time, teams played only 11 games per season. He accumulated 4,401 yards with 32 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. Plummer finished with a completion percentage of 56% in those 2 years.
In 2012 and 2013, Kelly started all 27 games. The 5 game difference with Plummer is due to the 12 regular season games that teams play today. Additionally, ASU reached 2 bowl games under Kelly along with the Pac-12 title game. In all, Kelly amassed 6,674 yards, 57 touchdowns and 21 interceptions as a sophomore and junior. He finished with a completion percentage of 65%.
Taylor Kelly in 55-21 win over Washington St. on Halloween (Photo by Steve Kelly, TK's uncle, for DieHardDevil.com)
Here are the rushing figures for both quarterbacks:
On the ground, Plummer scored 2 touchdowns and ran for a total of, get this, -119 yards. Kelly has scored 10 touchdowns and accumulated 1,124 yards on the ground. Cont. on pg. 2
Because Taylor played 5 more games than Jake, let's make an apples to apples comparison by taking the average production per game from each player's sophomore and junior seasons:
Jake Plummer looks on at ASU's 2013 Spring Game at Sun Devil Stadium
Jake Plummer (6-2, 204 lbs)
Passing per game: 303 Yards, 1.45 touchdowns and .82 interceptions.
Rushing per game: -5.4 yards and .09 touchdowns.
All-purpose yards per game: 297.6 and 1.54 touchdowns
Taylor Kelly (6-2, 203 lbs)
Passing per game: 248 yards, 2.1 touchdowns and .78 interceptions.
Rushing per game: 42 yards and .37 touchdowns.
All-purpose yards per game: 290 yards and 2.47 touchdowns
Sun Devil Careers
In his 4 seasons in Tempe, Jake Plummer became ASU's all-time leader in pass completions, passing attempts and passing yards. His *8,626 passing yards places him at #20 all-time in the Pac-10/12 conference, and Plummer's *65 career touchdowns also ranks #20 in the conference. *Does not include stats from the 1997 Rose Bowl
In ASU's record books, Plummer has the 3rd most passing yards ever and the 5th most passing touchdowns.
In 3 years, Taylor Kelly is already #43 in passing yards in conference history. If he repeats his performance from 2013 next season, he will finish with 10,340 yards, placing him somewhere near #10 in conference history and one spot ahead of, you'll like this, Nick Foles of Arizona (10,011 yards). Again if Kelly repeats his 2013 performance, he will finish with 85 touchdowns. This would place him in a tie at #3 in Pac 10/12 history with, you'll like this even more, ASU's Andrew Walter. (#1 and #2 are USC's Matt Barkley and Matt Leinart).
At the current rate, Kelly will pass Plummer's total passing yards and will finish tied with Andrew Walter as the touchdown leader. With a stronger receiving core expected next season, perhaps Kelly will pick up an extra TD or two and finish with more touchdowns than every great quarterback in Sun Devil history.
Jake Plummer, who was 3rd in votes for the 1996 Heisman Trophy, will always hold his place in the pantheon of playmakers and Sun Devil quarterbacks. He had a California-casual persona and was as cool as he was talented. Then you have Taylor Kelly who, despite making an artform out of flying below everyone's radar, will easily become one of ASU's top QB's of all time. With TK, we are truly watching greatness in action.
Here's a video of the 2010 Idaho 5A State Championship game. Taylor Kelly, who played quarterback for Eagle High School, led his team to a 22-21 victory over the #1 ranked Capital High School, where Jake Plummer was a 3-way star athlete.
Jan 01, 2014 - 09:29 pm - Original article (12/31/13, 1:41 a.m.) revised
Great teams are not easily broken. They prove their mettle and resolve when they happen to fall. ASU's 2013 Holiday Bowl game looked like it was lost before it was played.
From the start, ASU looked as if the scheduled 60 minutes of football was an afterthought to their season. The Sun Devil coaches and team had one clear job in San Diego: to dominate an over-matched opponent, proudly earn their 11th win of a special season and hoist their second bowl trophy in as many years back to Tempe. It would be a final celebration to close out an unforgettable year.
Instead, they lost.
Why? They were unprepared. Period.
Watching Todd Graham’s team take the field in their bowl game, something was noticeably wrong, and it was hard to watch. The Sun Devils had left their focus, purpose and passion back at the hotel, or maybe back in Sun Devil Stadium where their dreams of the Rose Bowl were dashed by Stanford in the conference title game.
In the weeks leading up to the 2013 Holiday Bowl, some fans were worried about ASU's mental preparation for their final showing of 2013. They could appreciate the emotional toll that was the team's championship game defeat three weeks earlier. After all, DieHard Sun Devil fans paid the toll as well. But they found solace in the fact that Todd Graham is ASU's coach.
One of Graham's greatest gifts is his ability to instill discipline and accountability into every one around him, including himself. Until this final game of his second year, ASU Football's "CEO" has not wavered from the mission at hand. What's more, after their two regular season losses, Graham's Sun Devils showed resilience and punished their next opponents.
If character and discipline are the new cornerstones of ASU Football, there's just no excuse for this loss. Slightly budging from those commitments is how the Devils could lose by two touchdowns to a team they were overwhelmingly expected to beat by as many as 20 points.
What makes the Holiday Bowl loss disheartening to fans is that the new Sun Devils that have evoked their passion and pride succumbed to the challenge. The worst thing is that the coaches and team let themselves down. They deserved to earn their 11th victory to close out an incredible year in Sun Devil history.
Fans can either resign to this let-down and do their best to forget it, or they can appreciate it as a reminder of the old Sun Devils. The Holiday Bowl performance just won't cut it if Arizona State's Football program is to become "great."
Dec 23, 2013 - 03:27 pm -
With just a couple days to celebrate the holidays and the arrival of 2014, we want to remind fans to take a moment and visit the Thank You Sun Devil Football Facebook page.
There's lots of great comments and feedback for the team. Players and coaches appreciate this stuff, especially the seniors who will be wearing the Sun Devil uniform just one last time next week in the Holiday Bowl.
675 Fans have joined the page, and more are joining daily to have a say about the program. If you've already joined, you can invite your Sun Devil friends right from the page or share this article with the link.
To go the page, click here. Here's the latest post worth sharing (we wrote a previous article highlighting another post). This one's from Cole Streeper who gave us the o.k. to add it to this article. Thanks, Cole.
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I was born a fan. I was in the womb for the entire 1986-87 Rose Bowl campaign and my dad made sure my first word was ASU. Yes. It's true.
I've had season tickets pretty much my whole life. I've seen all the big games since 1987 and was there for the entire 1996 season and even traveled to Pasadena to watch the Rose Bowl in person.
We've had ups and downs, but not since the '96 season has there been such electricity surrounding the program. Thank you players, especially seniors, coaches, and fellow die hard fans for helping take a first step towards taking this program where we want it to be and bringing such joy and excitement to me and all of Sun Devil Nation.
I'm grateful to Todd Graham for the class and integrity he has brought to the playing field and locker room. I'm proud of him for sticking to his guns through the scrutiny and truly reaching out to the community. I hope this is the first of many posts where I can invoke his name as the successful leader of a Sun Devil football team in subsequent years. Bleed Maroon and Gold and Go Devils!!
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Add your own comments to the Thank You Sun Devil Football page. When people in the football program (or any ASU athletic program for that matter) here directly from a fan, it has an impact.
Sun Devil fans, Isaac David and Cole Streeper
Once again, Justin Prestegard deserves the credit for taking the initiative to set up this facebook page. You can follow Justin on twitter at @justin4asu.
Dec 17, 2013 - 10:05 pm - Tempe, AZ – Head coaches in college football absorb 95+% of the scrutiny from fans & media when their team fails and all of the accolades and respect when their team succeeds. ASU Head Coach Todd Graham gets it.
While essentially acting as the CEO of the program, Graham is held entirely responsible for the results. If a bad call is made by his coordinator or if his receiver drops a catch for the game winning score, it falls him. However, when one of his assistants “drops the ball," he steps up to the mic and takes responsibility for it. What happens later between Graham and his coach is between them. But when one of the team's position groups dominates their opponent, Graham is the first to give his assistant coach all of the credit.
ASU Head Coach Todd Graham's Offensive Coordinator, Mike Norvell
“If I’ve done anything well since I’ve been here, I’ve hired great people, great teachers and great men," Graham said. "We had a plan when we came in here, and they’ve executed the plan tremendously. They’ve worked extremely hard putting the right puzzle pieces together and I’m just really proud of them.”
He points to Shawn Griswold as an example. “Look at what our strength staff has done with Coach Griz. We led the country in scoring in the fourth quarter, and that has everything to do with training and conditioning. We’ve stayed fairly healthy and our training staff has been phenomenal. The number one job that I have is hiring the assistants that are going to develop the young men that we coach.”
Not only do Graham's assistants lead their position groups in practice and preparation for games, they also reach out to their players each day on the phone or text to stay in touch. At the same time, assistants are constantly scouting talent and working the phones to make visits with potential recruits. “Not enough credit goes to our assistant coaches,” Graham said. “The head coach is an important position, but he’s dependent upon those nine assistants.”
Wide Receivers Assistant Coach, DelVaughn Alexander
ASU President Michael Crow also gets it. At the football banquet he presented Graham and his staff with crystal apples from Tiffany, calling them some of the best teachers in college football. It was a classy move by Dr. Crow who has taken a bigger interest in what Graham is doing.
Along with the success of the program, new opportunities arise for assistants. They gain interest from other programs. They are often offered more responsibilities and income, and for some, especially those who want to become the head coach of their own program one day, those opportunities are valuable.
In order to keep Mike Norvell on board at ASU, it was announced today that he has been promoted to Deputy Head Coach along with a salary increase. It shows the commitment level of the university to the program, and that Graham will do what it takes to ensure the future of the Sun Devil offense.
Here's an interview with Mike Norvell on Burns & Gambo today.
“I am committed to the long-term success of this program under the leadership of Todd Graham,” Dr. Crow said. “Rewarding the skills of a master teacher like Mike Norvell is a demonstration of that commitment. Coach Norvell’s performance as offensive coordinator has been nationally recognized, and this promotion reflects the remarkable track record he has established in the last two years at ASU.”
As ASU builds on two impressive seasons under his leadership, Todd Graham understands the challenge he faces in maintaining the continuity of his staff. He has been a successful head coach for many years and he’s navigated the ebb & flow of changes with his assistants before.
Fans should feel comfortable with Graham as CEO of Sun Devil Football and his ability to manage the challenges of success. He is likely two steps ahead.
Dec 16, 2013 - 07:49 pm - 2013 Sun Devil Football Banquet A Huge Success, Courtesy: Sun Devil Athletics
2014 Sun Devil Football Banquet at the JW Marriott - Scottsdale, AZ
Over 800 people were in attendance and showed their support of Sun Devil Football as the Sun Devil Club hosted the Football Banquet Dec. 14 at the JW Marriott at Camelback Inn in Scottsdale. The event began at 5 p.m. with a reception and silent auction before the ceremony started at 6 p.m.
ASU President Dr. Michael Crow and Head Coach Todd Graham addressed the crowd while all 26 seniors were honored.
Below are the 2013 Sun Devil Football Banquet award recipients:
Pat Tillman Outstanding Academic Achievement Award
Player with Outstanding Academic Achievement
Sponsored by: Jim Novick
Senior Alden Darby
Tim Landers Iron Man Award
Player who has displayed an exemplary work ethic in the weight room, on the field and in the community
Sponsored by: Jim Watson & Craig Torosian
Bill Kajikawa Award (Freshman Award)
Outstanding Freshman Player
Sponsored by: “The Brotherhood”
Randall McDaniel Oustanding Offensive Lineman
Sponsored by: Jim Kane
Sophomore Jaelen Strong
John Jefferson Outstanding Receiver Award
Danny White Offensive MVP
Sponsored by: Don Tapia
Curley Culp Outstanding Defensive Lineman Award
Sponsored by: Curley Culp
Ron Pritchard Outstanding Linebacker Award
Sponsored by: John & Gayle Goodman
Darren Woodson Outstanding Secondary Award
Seniors Chris Young and Steffon Martin at the 2013 Banquet
Mike Haynes Defensive MVP
Sponsored by: Mike Haynes
Babe Alex Demon Special Teams MVP
Frank Kush Captains Award
Sponsored by: Force Capital Partners, Gloria & John Lowe, Pamela & Curtis Fraiser, Alliance Residential
Taylor Kelly, Evan Finkenberg, Osahon Irabor, Alden Darby, Will Sutton, Chris Coyle
Click for a terrific Video from the Event
ASU Video from the 2013 Banquet
Dec 11, 2013 - 05:47 pm - Justin Prestegard, a friend and DieHard Sun Devil, has set up a Thank You Sun Devil Football Facebook page where fans can post their messages directly to the team. We thought we'd help get the word out to more fans that want to share their thoughts.
To go the page, click here. If you weren't already invited, just request to join the page and Justin, DHD and other members can easily accept your invitation so you can post.
Here's a great message that stood out from a true fan:
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Dear Sun Devil Football,
As a Valley native I've been a lifelong Sun Devil fan by birth, but a diehard Devils Devotee since meeting Frank Kush at a community event in 1977 when I was 8 years old.
In my lifetime, ASU football has had its ups and downs. Never loved them any less but there have been a lot of 4th quarter tears and disappointment to sort through. There have been flashes of greatness but, in large part, it's been a rough and inconsistent road. So I have a few things to say, for each of you...
Coach Graham: Since you came along and turned this program around so drastically and so quickly, I am overwhelmed by the hope and anticipation I have for Sun Devil Football's future. First it was 8-5 with a win over the drooling, dimwit brothers to the South and a victorious bowl game. Then 10-3...with a shot at the Pac12 Championship - and ANOTHER win (slaughter!) over the drooling, dimwit brothers to the South, with a slot in a great bowl game! I think I should increase the dosage of my blood pressure medicine over the next year because my heart is going to blow up if it gets any more exciting and fun. My favorite (and lucky!) cup is a cup I got at ASU's spring scrimmage this year...with photos of you and Frank Kush on the side. I see his success and leadership skill in you and it is amazing. In my lifetime, I've watched Kush bring ASU into legitimacy and I'm watching you bring it back. This is the era I've waited for! You and your staff are a precision machine and I can't properly describe the respect and admiration I have for you. You have no idea what you have done for us die-hards and what it means to us.
Sun Devil Student-Athletes: To watch you play with so much heart and tenacity is awe-inspiring. I can't thank you enough for choosing ASU. I can't thank you enough for believing in the program and in yourselves. I can't thank you enough for encouraging other young players to come be their best at ASU. I follow many of you on Twitter, so I also can't thank you enough for being genuinely good and motivated people, even in your personal lives. There are teams that win on the field and teams that win at just being everyday good, decent and hardworking human beings. To have both in one team is more blessing than I could have ever hoped for.
THANK YOU ALL for a great season! Thank you to the recruits who have committed to being a part of where this rocket is heading...up, up, up. Still #ALLin and believing stronger than ever before. DEVILS TIL I DIE!
This above post was added by Lisa Hamblin Painter to the page. There's other great comments to check out. If you want to, you can add your own.
Much respect to Sun Devil Nation!
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Once more here is the Thank You Sun Devil Football page on Facebook. Thanks again, Justin Prestegard, for taking the initiative to set this up.
Dec 07, 2013 - 01:44 pm - Al Pacino as Tony D'Amato in the film, Any Given Sunday
Words have the power to inspire people to do incredible things and achieve amazing goals. If you're a Sun Devil fan looking for three more reasons to get fired up for the Pac-12 Championship game tonight, look no further. We've reviewed a collection of videos and are providing Hollywood's Top 3 Locker Room Speeches of all time.
As you will see from these videos, certain coaches have the special ability to say the right things at the right time to motivate their team and push them to new heights. We can only imagine what Coach Graham will say to his team in the locker room tonight before they walk through Tillman Tunnel and step foot onto Frank Kush Field.
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Al Pacino in "Any Given Sunday"
Kurt Russell in "Miracle"
Billy Bob Thornton in "Friday Night Lights"