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August 13, 2013
Arizona State's secondary has worked to give its idea of a proper welcome to highly touted junior college wideout transfer Jaelen Strong.
Senior cornerback Osahon Irabor and his position-mates decided that instead of putting out a welcome mat for Strong, they would try to put his face in the dirt.
"They said he was a really good receiver coming in so I just wanted to make sure I brought my A-game and welcomed him to college the right way," Irabor said. "Let him know it's hard, fast, physical and he has to improve each and every day. But he's a really good receiver."
Wide receivers coach DelVaughn Alexander said there is always going to be a transition for any receiver moving up to the college level.
"Initially, new guys think that if they know the playbook they can go and play," Alexander said. "But when you're playing technique against technique and all the detail and adjustments, that's where it gets hard; let alone how tired you are with us being a tempo team."
The secondary, especially the cornerbacks, have helped Strong make the transition by never leaving him alone. Every route Strong runs Irabor and the other cornerbacks have their hands all over him in press coverage.
In Strong's first padded practice on Sunday, he was thrown to the ground by junior cornerback Lloyd Carrington.
During the first practice at Camp Tontozona on Tuesday, Irabor matched up against Strong multiple times.
Every time Strong would come off the line, Irabor would press him. Every time the ball was thrown to Strong, Irabor would do his best to make sure Strong did not come down with the ball.
The secondary doesn't plan on easing up any time soon either.
"[We're] being relentless,"Irabor said. "Each and every day we're going to get after him and he's going to have to respond the right way, the way coach [Todd] Graham and the offense needs him to respond and that's getting better each and every day and he's started making plays against us."
Irabor is aggressively helping his teammate prepare for the college level. Even though Irabor might go hard on him in practice, he sees the potential in the highly recruited wide receiver.
"I see explosiveness, speed, agility," Irabor said. "He's got all the makings to be a great receiver so I'm excited to have him on the team."
Alexander sees the same things Irabor sees in Strong. But Alexander also knows Strong has to adapt the way things are run at ASU.
"Jaelen has the potential to be one of the best receivers that I've ever coached," Alexander said. "Jaelen right now has to do things the way that we do them like sprinting on and off the field. We do things differently than anybody else in the country. We're just trying to raise the bar and get him to understand the expectation there and then he can be as good as he is."
Sophomore guard Vi Teofilo is flying under the radar this camp for a good reason.
Teofilo's name has not come up a lot because he is making few mistakes and his blocking has been very consistent, especially against the run.
Though it's still somewhat sporadic, in practice Tuesday, the right side of the line got some good pushes during run drills.
On one play, senior running back Marion Grice found a hole on the right side after a good block from Teofilo. Grice then took it all the way to the end zone.
A couple plays later, Teofilo showed off his athleticism. He pulled around to the left side of the line and was able to square up a block on Irabor in open space. Grice then cut to the right of the block for a big gain.
Despite the impressive reps Teofilo believes there is still room for improvement.
"I can definitely get my footwork down faster, get more push, be more explosive," Teofilo said. "So far it's heading in the right direction right now."
Last season Teofilo was thrown into the starting role when right guard Andrew Sampson was injured. At the time he said he was way more confident in his run blocking than pass protections.
Offensive line coach Chris Thomsen has seen Teofilo put in the work to become an all-around blocker. Thomsen said his attitude has been great and his skills are progressing in both types of blocking.
Teofilo actually gives the credit back to his coach for helping him with pass protection. Apparently, guards can be too violent when pass blocking.
"My pass protection I've improved tremendously since spring," Teofilo said. "Coach Thomsen is doing a pretty good job helping me out to stay vertical That was definitely my biggest problem [last year]. I was being too aggressive basically. I was trying to block it like a run instead of pass blocking."
If Teofilo keeps his head up, literally, he won't be flying under the radar much longer.
Legend stops by
Hall of Fame NFL cornerback and former Sun Devil Mike Haynes visited practice Tuesday.
Haynes said things sure have changed since the last time he was at Camp Tontozona in 1975.
"They still have spiders but now they have hot showers and we didn't have that when I came," Haynes said.
Haynes spent a good amount of practice with his eyes on Irabor. He seemed interested to see Irabor was fulfilling his legacy at the cornerback position.
Irabor said they have spoken a couple times.
"That's a legend man," Irabor said. "That's a freak athlete and he's an even better person. He was just talking about life and football He was giving me little tips here and there. Telling me to finish those deep balls and get that pick. Just coaching me up, being a great mentor and leader."
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