August 15, 2012: “This is heaven up here”
PAYSON — Football returned to Camp Tontozona Wednesday for the first time since 2008. But it’s been five years since ASU practiced on the field legendary head coach Frank Kush first used in 1960 for preseason workouts.
“I’m really honored to be here,” first year head coach Todd Graham said. “This is a magical place. I walked down the field today and said, ‘Man, this is heaven.'”
Mother Nature greeted the Sun Devils with a bright blue sky and temperatures 30 degrees cooler than the Valley.
Following the near three-hour session (the first of two practices), players huddled around Kush.
“He told them how it was built. How it came about,” Graham said of Kush’s five minute message to the team.
“This place is about building a family and building a team. It’s about the relationships. It’s about the hard edge. It’s about being tough. He talked about what it meant to be a Sun Devil and the rite of passage comes through Camp Tontozona. You’re going to leave here closer and you’re going to leave here tough.”
Sophomore quarterback Taylor Kelly again got the first team snaps. He struggled early in practice — only one completion in his first two series though tight end Chris Coyle dropped two passes, but finished strong including a nice deep ball to senior receiver Rashad Ross for a touchdown.
“We got til Saturday,” Graham said. “We come out of Saturday, we’ve got to have a guy. Bottom line.”
ASU will scrimmage Saturday, ending its five-day stay at Camp T.
Senior running back Cameron Marshall dressed but did not practice. Graham said Tuesday Marshall was “fatigued” and was “done being tackled”.
Marshall was joined by defensive linemen Corey Adams, Mike Pennell and Toa Tuitea at Muscle Beach, the area of the field reserved for injured players.