TEMPE — The Arizona State football team has new faces on the field and on the sidelines, and coach Todd Graham is taking the team on its annual Camp Tontozona trip to bring the team together at the start of fall practice.
The team leaves for the camp near Payson on Tuesday and ends Aug. 6 with the Maroon & Gold scrimmage that draws several thousand spectators. There will be one practice a day while featuring many hikes and bonfires with no cell phones. The only technology Graham wants is so the student-athletes can complete any school work they have.
“In this day and age, I think it’s a great tradition and something that we should honor,” Graham said. “It is just one of the most unique settings I have ever seen. For them not have their phones or any electronics, while sitting around the campfire singing the fight song is something special. When we are walking up Mount Kush, I always talk to them about all the great men who have walked up that mountain since 1960. I wish we could spend more time up there because it really allows you to focus and lock everything out.”
During Graham’s four years at ASU, he has helped lead the team that achieved 34 wins, a 990 Academic Progress Rate and the best GPA in school history. Graham works to instill core values with his coaches and his team.
“I am really excited about our staff,” Graham said of the additions of Chip Lindsey, Jay Norvell and T.J. Rushing. “We have had a great two weeks of what we call hide-a-way. Lock it down, no cell phones or any of that and we just talk ball. We don’t go eat lunch, we have everything brought in. It has been good to spend that time. We did a lot of accessing, reevaluating and doing all the things to try and constantly get better at everything that we are doing.”
The Sun Devils are going to have a new quarterback behind four new offensive linemen. The roster is filled with talented freshmen who are being mentored by the veteran receivers, running backs and tight ends, said Graham. Although the team captains have not been named yet, leadership is very present in their locker room, he said.
During last season, Jordan Simone was one of the major voices in the locker room even after injuring his knee, which led to the end of his college career.
“I want guys to be genuinely who they are,” Graham said. “Last year, Jordan Simone – you are not going coach a guy like that very often – a tremendous young man. And Mike (Bercovici). D.J. (Foster) didn’t say as much. Different people lead in different ways. Some of our leaders on our team like Laiu (Moeakiola) are guys that are naturally quiet. The personality of our team is a little less external. Our guys will be genuinely who they are.”
Fans will be able to meet the ASU football players on August 6 following the last practice.
“I talk to our players a lot about our fans. We wouldn’t be here if we didn’t have fans that bought tickets and people that support our program. We represent them. We are going to do it with class, character, and integrity.”
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