Sophomore linebacker, Carl Bradford from Norco (Calif.) High School, knows firsthand about the difficulty of adjusting to change. Bradford played fullback in high school but was recruited to ASU as a linebacker, and even played some defensive end last season. However, bouncing from position to position is something Bradford has been able to take in stride.
“It wasn’t that hard,” Bradford claimed. “I’ve just tried to study and understand each position without getting one position mixed up with the other. The most difficult transition was going from fullback to defense because I had never played defense in my life. It was a whole different experience that forced me to change my mental and physical game.”
Since taking on these two new positions, Bradford feels as if he is finally starting to play adequately in both roles.
“It took almost an entire season to adjust to linebacker,” he admitted, “and I’m finally starting to feel confident with it. Depending on how our defense is set up, I’ll either play at defensive end or as a linebacker. I now know both positions fairly well and feel confident and comfortable in both.”
With only a week of practice under their belts, followed by a weeklong spring break, Bradford and his teammates were expected to feel a little bit tired and rundown as they headed back on Tuesday to a rigorous session.
“Personally, I think it was a little bit rusty,” Bradford said. “Anytime anyone comes back from a week break, they are going to be tired. I think we did average, not like we’ve done in our previous practices. We still did well, just not what I expected and not what we should be doing.”
Bradford realizes the potential of this ASU defense and is confident that the new coaching staff will help the Sun Devils realize that potential and help the team achieve more success than they have enjoyed in recent seasons. The most eye-opening difference that the sophomore has noticed was the pace of spring practice.
“Oh man, this year’s practice is way faster. Way, way faster,” Bradford stated. “I can’t even explain it. It’s a lot more intense. We sprint everywhere. We’re not allowed to walk at all. I think it’ll end up being a good thing for us once the season comes. I like the changes that the new coaching staff has brought.”
Bradford also noted that the discipline aspect that is now constantly demonstrated all over the field.
“Discipline, hands down is the biggest change,” Bradford remarked. There is way more, way, way more discipline. As everybody can see, this practice was completely different from anything we’d had last year. When Coach Graham came in here the very first day, we all knew it was a huge change.
“I think everyone is feeling comfortable with the new staff and all of the changes.
I think we will look a lot faster and a lot more sound. We will all know our assignments and hopefully we won’t get as tired as easily.”
Bradford’s time here at ASU has been anything but ordinary for other reasons as well. He was fortunate enough to come down here with his best friend and high school teammate, running back Deantre Lewis who unfortunately suffered a leg injury from a gunshot wound last year. Bradford naturally wasn’t focused on only his own adjustments on and off the field, and has certainly done everything he could to comfort and assist his best friend and teammate.
“We’ve been friends since we were both ten years old,” Bradford described. “We basically grew up together. We are like brothers. When his injury happened, I just tried to keep calm and constantly give him words of encouragement and just hope for the best for him. We are still roommates and best friends.”
With the aforementioned question marks at the linebacker and defensive end positions, Bradford not only hopes to see more playing time this season, but also to improve upon some the basic fundamental skills.
“I really just want to learn the defense,” Bradford explained. “It’s a whole new defense that I really want to get down pact first before anything else. Then I’ll want to move on and start really focusing on my hands. I’m looking forward to the rest of spring practice and especially to the upcoming season.”