September 1, 2007

Camp Grades: DBs

The Sun Devils received a surprising boost from a returning player in the spring when Troy Nolan came seemingly from out of nowhere to look like one of the top players on the defense. After dealing with a knee/quad injury upon arriving from the JUCO ranks the previous spring, Nolan redshirted and then promptly blew up into a possible standout during the team's 15 workouts this spring.

Though Nolan had a bit of a setback in camp due to a separated shoulder, he showed great mental toughness, returned ahead of schedule and has looked solid at the strong safety position alongside senior free safety Josh Barrett in the secondary.

As it stands now, that tandem makes the safety group appear to be one of the team's strengths entering the season. Nolan's emergence allowed Ryan McFoy to be moved to linebacker, and he even passed Jeremy Payton on the depth chart.

At 6-foot-2, 204 pounds, Nolan is physical with great playmaking ability. He has terrific instincts, is very adept at coming up against the run and capable making plays in coverage. He's a big hitter, and an above-average tackler.

A 6-foot-3, 231 pound athletic freak of nature who is perhaps the fastest player on the ASU roster, Barrett had a team-leading 82 tackles last season, 7.5 of which were for a loss. He also led the team with three interceptions, to go along with six pass breakups and one fumble recovery.

Barrett has a rare combination of intelligence, size and speed that will allow him to play effectively in any capacity and in any system.

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