Bishop on the comeback trail

This time last year, Ezekiel Bishop quickly caught the attention of ASU's coaching staff and any other onlookers that witnessed his relentless style of play at safety. Among a series of preseason practices that was quickly becoming known for routine injuries than actual play on the field, Bishop earned rave reviews and was on his way to immediate playing time as a true freshman.

Sadly, just as quickly as that enthusiasm arose it had to be postponed as in the third quarter of the season opener on special teams Bishop suffered a torn ACL that required season-ending surgery and the use of a redshirt year.

For a player such as Bishop that was a star high school athlete with multiple college scholarship offers and had instantly earned a depth chart spot as a true freshman, the reality of a major injury can be overwhelming. However, in Bishop's case, once the immediate shock wore off his work ethic and determination were able to shine through during his recovery.

"I was in denial when they first told me I tore my ACL," reflects Bishop. "I just didn't believe it, but I'm actually glad I went through it. I really learned and had my first taste of what adversity is. I went through it, I persevered and it made me more mature."

As challenging as a freshman's adaptation to major college football can be, the added frustration of a major injury that halted the type of momentum Bishop had created has the power to be overwhelming to a teenager in his first year of college.

Thankfully, the volume of injuries suffered by various Sun Devils last year enabled veterans such as Omar Bolden, Brandon Magee and T.J. Simpson to not only help aid the mental and physical recovery of a first-year player such as Bishop but also prove to him that the injury does not need to completely dampen a player's long-term objectives.

"That helped me out a lot," said Bishop of having veterans recovering the same time as him. ‘They all helped keep my head in the right place. They really guided me through it. It's exciting in Omar Bolden's case that he went and got drafted to my own hometown team. It's all about perseverance. It happened and I just had to push through it."

Fast forward to 2012, though Bishop was unavailable during the spring, with the losses of starting safeties Eddie Elder and Clint Floyd from last year, Bishop has a great opportunity to remain in equation for playing time as a redshirt freshman.

Though he was unable to play in the spring, Bishop was still listed second behind Alden Darby at boundary safety. With generally no other reliable depth behind starters Darby and field safety Keelan Johnson, Bishop likely will asked to re-acclimate to active duty quickly.

For many defensive players, regardless their tenure, the variety of looks ASU plans to implement under Todd Graham can be daunting. Bishop, however, has the fortuitous edge in that his high school defense was strikingly similar to the 3-3-5 that the Sun Devils have shown in the early stages of fall camp.

Not only does that scheme give Bishop a sense of familiarity, but an increased confidence as in high school he starred in the stack formation at Denver (Colo.) east High School, earning All-Colorado honors as a senior after leading his team in tackles.

"I think I bring the skill set to play this defense because I have the previous experience of playing it at my high school," says Bishop. "It's pretty much the same but with different terminology."

Regardless the defensive scheme, Bishop is eager to improve and return to game action and help fortify a Sun Devil secondary that suffered harsh criticism during the final five games of the season and ultimately finished 108th in the nation in pass defense.

"I take it one day at a time," says Bishop. "I try to improve my technique and do whatever I can to help my team win. We [defensive backs] have a weight on our shoulders. We want to be the best DB's in the nation. We just need to execute like I know we can."

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