Randall grasping scheme at the right time

Randall grasping scheme at the right time

It wasn't the smoothest of roads for Damarious Randall to the starting field safety spot in 2013. The redshirt junior transfer from Mesa Community College was limited in the early stages of the season by a groin injury that he suffered in a summer camp, and had to battle his way back into the starting eleven as the year progressed.

With the injury, the 6-foot 185 lbs. defensive back had to watch the fall practices from the sidelines and take mental reps instead of much needed physical reps along side his teammates, ultimately putting him behind the eight ball for the first quarter of the season.

"I wouldn't say (the injury) set me too far back," Randall said. "But it did kind of set me back and it was just a process of me just getting back into the rhythm of things."

Having time to recover for the first four weeks, Randall finally saw extensive action against Notre Dame in early October where he recorded a team-high 17 tackles.

From that point, Randall has been the starting field safety for the Devils, but it still has been a difficult process to make up for the time lost in the beginning of the year.

Luckily for Randall, the three starting defensive backs around him, Alden Darby, Osahon Irabor and Robert Nelson are all seniors. Having them with him every step of the way has made the transition a bit easier.

"Those are three veteran seniors right there," Randall said. "They have just been helping me out with the little things and confidence."

Randall's recent performances against UCLA and Arizona suggest that he's feeling more comfortable with his role in the defensive scheme, ultimately letting his playmaking ability come through.

In Arizona State's Pac-12 South clinching game against the Bruins, Randall tallied eight tackles. And in the duel in the desert, he finished with 12 tackles and a pick six, earning the Pac-12 defensive player of the week award.

"I have just been gaining more and more confidence," Randall said. "It's just like I'm back to making a lot of plays like I'm used to. And that's the reason why they recruited me."

Defensive coordinator Paul Randolph thinks that while Randall has played extremely well as of late, he's just scratching the surface of his potential in this Sun Devils' defense.

"The sky is the limit for him as long as he stays focused and has a workman's mentality. He's a smart kid and as long as he continues to work he will get better. You try not to look back and think what could've been this year if he wouldn't have been hurt early on in the season and things like that, where would he be? But he's progressing at a rapid pace and we just have to keep him progressing along those lines."

Despite missing three games, and playing minimally against Wisconsin to start the year, Randall finished the regular season third on the team in tackles with 57, and tied Irabor for third in interceptions with three.

Randall has solidified a position of concern for Arizona State heading into the 2013 season and has allowed Todd Graham and the rest of the coaching staff an opportunity to focus on other areas of need. He's been a key cog in a defense that has spearheaded the Sun Devils' seven-game win streak, propelling them into the conference championship this Saturday.

Randall mentioned that it was tough to sit out in the beginning of the year and have to watch his team struggle in the first half in Palo Alto. He's ready for the rematch against the Cardinal, and said that he along with the rest of the defense will be prepared to thwart their methodical offense.

"I've been watching film and it's just about knowing when they (Stanford) want to take big play shots and knowing when they want to pound the rock and things like that," Randall said.

The Pac-12 Championship will be the biggest game for Arizona State in the past decade, but Randall isn't a stranger to the bright lights and a big stage. He mentioned that his high school team in Pensacola, Fla. went to the state championship and ended up winning the whole thing.

The sole reason Randall wanted to play for the Sun Devils was because he saw an opportunity to play in Pasadena come January 1st. He's ready to finally get out on the field in front of the home crowd in Sun Devil Stadium and have a chance to get revenge on Stanford.

"I'm most excited about going to get the roses," Randall said. "It would be a dream come true."

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