Whenever a football team returns to the practice field after a long layoff the eyes of onlookers tend to gravitate to those who are new. When one of those players is a quarterback, it's invariably going to draw even more attention.
Arizona State freshman Michael Bercovici, just three months removed from high school, has generated a lot of curiosity from fans and media getting their first look at him in a live setting.
The 6-foot-1, 205-pounder, who was the No. 14 pro-style quarterback prospect in the country coming out of Taft High School in Woodland Hills, Calif., has mostly passed the eyeball test due to his live arm and quick release.
But Bercovici is well aware that adjusting to college football -- not to mention college in general -- will take some time.
"I've seen speed from safeties and corners but the speed from the d-line and linebackers has been amazing," Bercovici said. "One of the constant reminders because our offense revolves around throwing the ball around the perimeter is keeping our eyes up whenever we are handing the ball off or watching the linebackers when making a quick decision is just keep our eyes up and see the flow of the field and that helps us make decisions."
Bercovici is also focused on little things such as ball placement prior to brining it up to the release point and making sure his footwork is sound.
"They say the feet feed the arm so getting my feet right will help my mechanics up top. I feel confident right now and just [am excited about] getting better."
Practicing with ASU and learning the offense in recent months has been a reaffirming thing for Bercovici when he thinks about his decision to sign with the Sun Devils.
"It's all about getting the ball out of your hand and making quick decisions," he sad. "My strength as a quarterback is getting the ball out quick. It's amazing the next level how things happen much quicker with your decisions. Coach Mazzone and Erickson are helping me with looking at the linebackers and getting a feel for it."
Erickson said Bercovici has made an immediate impression with his tools.
"People forget that he should be in high school, he can throw it, man,'' Erickson said. "He gets the ball out real quick. But then all of a sudden now you're out here and you're practicing on a snap count, you have to get everything going when you're at the line of scrimmage, and that's the biggest thing right now. That's just experience. He was a lot better today than he was on Tuesday."
Senior linebacker Brandon Magee practiced with the first-team Thursday after missing Tuesday due to baseball obligations. Magee worked alongside fellow former Corona (Calif.) Centennial teammates senior Shelly Lyons and junior Vontaze Burfict with the top group, and the second-team consisted of freshman Carl Bradford in the middle flanked by sophomore Anthony Jones and senior Colin Parker. Senior Oliver Aaron worked with the third team.
More on Anderson
Erickson had the following to say on senior Derrall Anderson's move from middle linebacker to defensive end, which we initially wrote about in Tuesday's practice notebook.
"We're trying to find a place for him to play,'' Erickson said. "He's a good athlete. He can run. He's a very good pass rusher at linebacker so we felt like, 'Heck, let's put him down out there and see how he is.' We can use him in situational things as a pass rusher. If we ever go to some 30 front (3-4) stuff, he can be an outside guy, and actually he's adjusted pretty well."
Senior wide receiver Aaron Pflugrad was limited during the first couple days of practice due to vertigo.
Freshman first-string kicker Alex Garoutte has had a bit of a shaky start. He's been about 50 percent from inside 40-yards and missed four of five from beyond 42 yards Thursday. All of his kicks, even two from 52-yards out, have had enough distance but he's missed on either side of the uprights.