- Kyle Bonagura, ESPN Staff Writer
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We're taking a look at a player from each Pac-12 team who could step into the spotlight in 2014.
Spotlight: Arizona State guard Christian Westerman, 6-4, 305, R-Jr.
2013 summary: Westerman sat out the regular season after he transferred from Auburn, but played sparingly after becoming eligible for the National University Holiday Bowl.
The skinny: Arizona State teammates and coaches refer to him simply as “The Prototype,” but Westerman isn’t satisfied with just looking the part of an NFL guard. He’s anxious to prove he can live up to the expectations created when he was one of the most recruited Arizona-based players in history as a part of the Class of 2011.
Westerman chose Auburn, which had just won the national title, and didn’t strongly consider playing for the Sun Devils.
“The philosophy wasn’t what I wanted it to be (at ASU),” he said. “It just really wasn’t the place to be.”
However, after a redshirt season and an injury-riddled 2012 campaign, neither was Auburn -- at least not for the former five-star recruit. Westerman had kept tabs on ASU and came away impressed with the turnaround under coach Todd Graham. When he chose to leave Auburn, it was clear where he wanted to be.
“I really missed home,” he said. “I missed the family atmosphere and the not just from family, from the people I’m around here. The support I have now is much better.”
Forced to sit out the 2013 regular season due to NCAA transfer rules, Westerman was relegated to mostly scout team duty in practice. That meant a lot of quality one-on-one time working against two-time Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, Will Sutton.
“That was awesome going against a guy that has accomplished so much,” Westerman said. “That definitely helped me get better ... the top guy in the league the past two years.”
ASU offensive line coach Chris Thomsen said Westerman competed well and held his own against Sutton.
“We put him down here on the scout team, which, for him, probably wasn’t very fun,” Thomsen said. “But from a competition standpoint, it made him better and helped him develop.”
Westerman was eligible to play in the Holiday Bowl, but was used minimally as an extra lineman in jumbo packages as the staff didn’t want to mess with the chemistry the line had built throughout the season. It was just the third real game he’d appeared in since high school.
“That’s been the hardest thing. Not being on the field,” he said. “I’m ready to start playing again and hoping to get out there and have a good season.”
It’s unclear what guard position Westerman will wind up at, but he’ll be an important cog on what has a chance to be a very good unit.
“You look at him and say, ‘that’s what a guard is supposed to look like in the Pac-12,’” Thomsen said. “He’s a guy that’s ready to prove himself. He was so decorated coming out of high school. Guys like that want to get on the field quick. I know he’s eager to make his mark.”