Bishop bouncing back

Bishop bouncing back

Imagine all of the emotions Ezekiel Bishop had to deal during his first game as a Sun Devil. As a true freshman in his first ever collegiate game his excitement quickly turned to disappointment going down with a season ending tear of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear. Expectedly, it has been an uphill battle ever since for the safety, but a strong spring may signal a successful comeback.

"It's pretty hard," Bishop said. "I mean growing up playing this game and you watch people tear their ACL, you think, ‘wow, career ending injury.' But people have bounced back from it, that's the good thing; it's not a career-ending injury anymore."

It may not be a career-ending injury anymore in most situations but there are plenty of athletes who have torn his or her ACL that have come back and not been the same as before.

"You have to work twice, three, four times as hard," Bishop explained. "It is just mental really. You really have to take control over it because if you don't it can consume you and make you mentally bad; that was my main concern. The physical part, your knee is going to get better. But just not having those precautionary thoughts like ‘wow I have to be careful.'

Coming into the 2012 season, Bishop had yet another challenge to deal with on top of trying to return back to his normal self -- impressing a new coaching staff.

"It was pretty tough," Bishop admitted. "I just came off my injury, and then you get the whole new coaching change and you want to impress him, but you can't. You have to watch. But you're doing the best you can, you just have to wait and be patient."

In 2012 as a redshirt freshman under head coach Todd Graham, Bishop didn't have as big of an impact on the season as he would have liked. Appearing in nine games for the Sun Devils, Bishop recorded 10 tackles last season.

After having a limited role in the third ranked secondary in the nation a season ago, Bishop knows that he has to play to his full potential to fill the spot left vacant by filed safety Keelan Johnson.

"It's just big shoes to fill," Bishop said. "I'm happy for (Alden) Darby and Keelan; they set the bar here at ASU so I have to live up to that standard playing this position."

Fast forward to spring 2013, the 5-11 194 lbs. safety from Denver has been trying to assert himself in the two-deep defense for the Sun Devils. Bishop said his aim this spring was to improve his overall understanding of where he was supposed to be in certain situations.

"My goal was just to be assignment sound and always executing my assignment," Bishop said. "I'm not trying to think too much because that's what kind of gets me."

Competing with redshirt freshman Laiu Moeakiola, Bishop has been fluctuating between the first and second team defense at the field safety spot.

"It just makes you hungry," Bishop said of those depth chart moves. "It makes you step up your game because you are the underdog."

Listed as a second team safety on the official spring football depth chart, Bishop said he's not comfortable with where he's at right now as a player.

"I have a long way to go," Bishop noted. "I have so much to improve on. I have to get back to my mojo, my old self where I came here in the first place."

Throughout the spring, Graham has mentioned the field safety position needs to improve if the Sun Devil defense is going to improve upon the season they had last year. Without the aid of the coaches in the summer now that spring is over, Bishop will have to work on his own to get better if he wants to achieve his goal of starting come fall.

"I have to get faster and stronger," Bishop said. "That's always; the game is getting faster so I have to."

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