ARIZONA STATE FOOTBALL

ASU’s Antonio Pierce believes Merlin Robertson’s growth is highlight of 2020

Nov 14, 2020, 11:10 AM
Linebacker Merlin Robertson #8 of the Arizona State Sun Devils intercepts a pass intended for tight...
Linebacker Merlin Robertson #8 of the Arizona State Sun Devils intercepts a pass intended for tight end Jake Ray #18 of the Arizona State Sun Devils in the first half of a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, November 7, 2020. (Photo by Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images)
(Photo by Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images)

Arizona State co-defensive coordinator Antonio Pierce gushed about junior linebacker Merlin Robertson’s maturation and more during a Zoom call with members of the media on Wednesday.

The former NFL linebacker said that Robertson, who had 10 tackles and an interception against the Trojans, has been a bright spot defensively for the Sun Devils.

“I can say that’s the one good thing about 2020 with all the COVID going on is Merlin’s been steady and consistent,” Pierce said. “Really from [the 2019 Sun Bowl] against Florida State. It started then. It’s continued. He’s had a lot going on in the offseason.”

Robertson addressed his play against the Trojans, as well as the emotional impact of playing his first game since his father, Vincent, passed away in February.

The junior linebacker said he dealt with a range of emotions ahead of the game in his hometown of Los Angeles but that he was able to overcome them by focusing on the task at hand.

“At first, I got a little teary eyed but then again I wanted to do my business and handle my business and contribute to the team,” Robertson said.

Pierce said the coaching staff and everyone on the team’s side of the field was fired up whenever Robertson made a play in the team’s opener.

“I don’t know if you saw on the sideline, we were extremely excited and fired up every time that he made a play because it came to fruition,” Pierce said.

The third-year ASU defensive coach believes that Robertson’s opening week performance can be a springboard for a successful junior campaign.

“It’s not about the talk. Like coach [Herm Edwards] says, words in action, we put it on the field,” Pierce said. “Merlin put it on the field, he played his tail off. That’s a game obviously that’s very personal to him and that he needed for his confidence.

“To prove, not to everybody else but to himself, that the work that he put in on and off the field, he can show it to everybody. And I’m hoping and I’m praying that he has a healthy season and that he keeps going.”

Pierce, who played in 124 games across nine seasons in the NFL, believes that Robertson has a chance to play football at the next level.

“I know that his ultimate goal is to play in the National Football League,” he said. “I know it’s farfetched and I’m praying that that happens for him.

“I’m hoping that it’s this year, and that he helps us win games and keeps playing the way he’s playing because when he plays that well he brings a certain energy and passion and mentality to our team.”

Robertson and the Sun Devils had their home contest against California canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic on Friday after losing their opener against USC, 28-27, on Nov. 7.

He’s confident that his performance against USC is a sign of what’s to come whenever the Sun Devils take the field again.

“I felt like how I did on Saturday showed the work that I put in this offseason, which is more than I did last season,” Robertson said.

Penguin Air

Arizona State Football

(AP Photo/Ralph Freso)...
Arizona Sports

Pac-12 exploring all expansion options with USC, UCLA heading to Big Ten

The Pac-12 is looking into expansion following the decisions from USC and UCLA on Thursday to head to the Big Ten as early as 2024.
19 hours ago
Basketballs are rolled off the court during the NCAAB game at McKale Center on January 03, 2022 in ...
Arizona Sports

Arizona ‘extremely disappointed’ in USC, UCLA leaving Pac-12 for Big Ten

The Arizona Wildcats broke their silence Friday regarding USC's and UCLA's plans to leave the Pac-12 for the Big Ten as early as 2024.
19 hours ago
UCLA plays Oregon during a Pac-12 NCAA college football game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., ...
Arizona Sports

UCLA, USC to leave Pac-12 for Big Ten in 2024

UCLA and USC will be leaving the Pac-12 for the Big Ten, beginning in the 2024-25 season, the two schools confirmed on Thursday evening.
2 days ago
Defensive back Jordan Clark #1 of the Arizona State Sun Devils celebrates with the Territorial Cup ...
Nikash Nath

Kyle Soelle, Jordan Clark ready to lead new faces for ASU football

ASU junior CB Jordan Clark and senior captain LB Kyle Soelle are expected to lead a Sun Devils defensive that'll have many new faces in 2022.
8 days ago
Arizona State Sun Devils offensive lineman LaDarius Henderson (77) lines up during the college foot...
Nikash Nath

Arizona State OL LaDarius Henderson talks new culture amid low expectations

OL LaDarius Henderson has been with ASU since 2019 and is no stranger to experiencing personnel and cultural changes within the program.
17 days ago
Head coach Herm Edwards of the Arizona State Sun Devils reacts after the loss to the Utah Utes at R...
Kellan Olson

SunDevilSource’s Karpman: Scathing opinion on ASU football unsurprising

A scathing take about ASU football from an anonymous opposing coach became the topic of conversation around the state of the program.
17 days ago
ASU’s Antonio Pierce believes Merlin Robertson’s growth is highlight of 2020