App’s defensive line proves age is not a concern

It is not the norm for first year players to come in and be expected to produce right away. But that is the case for ASU’s defensive line – A group Defensive Line Coach Jason Blalock calls “the kids.”

Five of the eight defensive linemen are redshirts or true freshmen and had never played a collegiate snap coming into the season.

“The kids have come in and learned and bought into the system and have done what they have been asked to do,” Coach Blalock said. “That’s why they’ve been able to come in and play at this early age.”

By far the youngest position on the field, the starting three down linemen consists of two freshmen, Stephen Burns and Davante Harris and sophomore Ronald Blair.

“In camp we realized we were young and kind of took it too much to heart,” Burns said. “Thinking, well we can mess up, we’re young. But it’s not that way because we’re starters. Going into the season we we’re like it don’t matter what our year is, we want to be the force on the field that makes a difference.”

Blair comes into this season as one of the more experienced linemen, despite being just a sophomore.

“I’m not going to say I’m like a mentor,” Blair said. “It’s like I know a little bit more and I can teach them a few things I have under my belt.”

Last year, Blair came in third on the team with three and a half sacks and earning a spot on the Southern Conference All-Freshman Team.

“He just proved last year that it doesn’t matter if you’re a freshman,” Burns said. “It matters that he was a player and got in there and played every day.”

The top six linemen, which includes only one upperclassman, have combined for 59 tackles, two and half sacks, and a fumble recovery through four games according to

“My main goal for the D-Line is to basically make plays,” Harris said. “I know I haven’t made as many plays as I’ve wanted to, that I should have made; but it’s a work in progress.”

Story: JORDAN DAVIS, Intern Sports Reporter