Last season, as Ryan McFoy struggled to learn the nuances of the linebacker position, it would have been tempting to wish he could just move back to safety, where he had his moments as a true freshman in 2006.
But McFoy stuck with it, and he is on the verge of reaping the reward.
“I had to learn as much as I could about linebacker,” McFoy said. “I stayed loyal to the program, didn’t go home in the summer, just stayed here and worked hard and tried to get the starting position.”
He is not officially the starter at weakside linebacker, as coach Dennis Erickson is saying that McFoy and Mike Nixon will both play a lot. But McFoy is getting many of the first-team snaps in practice as the Sun Devils prepare for Saturday’s season opener against Northern Arizona.
“I wouldn’t say I’ll name either one as the starter, at any time this year,” Erickson said.
That is fine with McFoy, because the athletic 6-foot-2, 218-pounder knows he will have many opportunities, albeit in a different role, to fulfill the potential he displayed two years ago.
“I’ve grown to like linebacker,” said McFoy, who made eight starts in ’06 and was moved to linebacker because Erickson wanted his speed in the front seven. “I had to learn it. Going over film helped me a lot in terms of reading the quarterback and learning your keys. I have progressed a lot.”
Terell Carr and Pierre Singfield are still competing for the starting cornerback assignment opposite Omar Bolden, and Erickson said a decision will likely not be made until Friday.
Singfield took most of the first-team snaps on Tuesday.
“I wouldn’t read anything into that,” Erickson said.
Wide receiver Chris McGaha (toe) practiced but was in discomfort, walking with a slight limp. After one drill, he retreated to sit on a water cooler, a frustrated look on his face.
“He’s still sore,” Erickson said. “He hasn’t practiced (in full pads) for a while. It’s going to get sore on him. For most of practice, he looked good. We have to watch how much we use him.”
Running back Keegan Herring suffered an apparent leg cramp and did not return. Running back Shaun DeWitty (hamstring) dressed but did not do much, and offensive linemen Garth Gerhart (ankle) and Matt Hustad (knee) sat out.
Defensive coordinator Craig Bray, cornerbacks coach Greg Burns, tight ends coach Dan Cozzetto and offensive graduate assistant Bryce Erickson will sit in the press-box booth during games. …
There were about 1,500 season tickets remaining as of Tuesday afternoon.