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Thursday, May 10, 2012
Under the radar: Arizona State

By Kevin Gemmell

We're continuing with our under the radar series.

The idea is to pick out a player who is not a big name, but who might be underrated. Or, at least, a guy who will need to step up and play a crucial role in 2012.

We're going in reverse alphabetical order.

Arizona State: RB James Morrison

2011 production: Carried the ball 11 times for 59 yards with a score against Colorado.

Making the case for Morrison: Outside of Arizona, most folks probably don't know Morrison. He came in as a walk-on out of St. Mary's high school in Phoenix and never really found a place with the old coaching staff. New coach Todd Graham has dubbed the 5-foot-11, 215-pounder "Tank" for his power style of running. He's coming off a fantastic spring and used the absence of Cameron Marshall to gain valuable reps.

In this new ASU offense, the focus is on downhill running. And that's something Morrison can do. The big question is whether he did enough in the spring to earn the reps, because ASU's backfield is going to be crowded in the fall. He could be featured as a third-down back because he's a good blocker, or simply as a goal-line/short-yardage specialist. He could be the No. 2 guy off the bench behind Marshall -- pending the status of Deantre Lewis. Or he could be a spring wonder who never gets consistent carries, falling back behind Lewis, Kyle Middlebrooks and incoming freshman D.J. Foster, who might contribute immediately. Morrison is by no means a sure thing to break out, but if you're looking for someone who could surprise under the right circumstances, he's the guy.