Arizona State’s task of rebuilding its offensive line has become even more challenging, as Richard Tuitu’u, the projected starting right tackle, has left the program.
No reason was disclosed, but academics are believed to have been a factor.
“It was a combination of things that added up to whether or not he had a commitment to be here,” coach Dennis Erickson said on Sunday.
With the departure of Tuitu’u, a junior who attended Gilbert Highland High, redshirt freshman Adam Tello moves atop the depth chart. Junior-college transfer Tom Njunge is an option, but for now, he remains the second-string left tackle.
“Adam had a very good spring,” Erickson said. “He’s very athletic and a good pass protector. He’s the starter now, but we can do some other things. We could flip Njunge to there, and Mike Marcisz and some other guys are in the mix. But I think Adam fits in well to what we want to get done on the offensive line.”
Last season, Tuitu’u backed up since-graduated Julius Orieukwu at right tackle. ASU must replace three starters from an offensive line that was often beleaguered in 2007, thanks to the school-record 55 sacks ASU allowed.
Guards Paul Fanaika and Shawn Lauvao are back. Converted defensive lineman Jon Hargis is at left tackle, and Thomas Altieri is trying to hold off Garth Gerhart at center.
Defensive lineman Eugene Germany will not play for the Sun Devils.
ASU was hoping to give Germany another chance after his failure to stick at Southern California (academic nonqualifier) and Michigan (scholarship release). He played in eight games for the Wolverines as a freshman in 2006 before being ticketed for marijuana possession.
“I love Eugene, but he just didn’t do some of the things we needed him to,” Erickson said. “I’m not quite sure where he is academically, but he might end up at another Division I school.”
Wide receiver Kemonte Bateman will grayshirt and attempt to qualify in time for the spring semester. He can enroll in school and take a limited course load — and his five-year eligibility clock would not start — but he cannot participate in team functions.
The remainder of ASU’s 28-player recruiting class, save for spring academic casualty Jarrell Barbour, has qualified, Erickson said.
Construction of the ASU indoor practice facility was said to be slightly behind the scheduled Aug. 1 completion date, but Erickson said the team could work out in the 103,000-square-foot structure when fall practice begins today.
“It’s a lot bigger than it looks from the outside,” Erickson said. “We have a lot of space and a lot of things we can get done there.”
The first practice scheduled to be held inside the facility is on Saturday, although Erickson might opt to send the Sun Devils under the bubble if the humidity is high or a monsoon is threatening.