The projected starter for one of Arizona State’s cornerback spots is afraid to take a snap off during training camp, despite playing on a knee that is still not recovered from summer surgery.
That an indication of the competition that junior-college transfer Terell Carr is getting from a walk-on and two true freshmen as the Sun Devils sort out who will replace Justin Tryon as the starter opposite Omar Bolden.
“I knew that I didn’t solidify the job (during spring practice), and I was not able to do any of the summer workouts,” said Carr. “I’m at about 80 percent. I’m rehabbing my knee but haven’t had much time to rest it.
“But I have to get more consistent by the end of this camp if I am going to be the starting corner. That’s the case for all of us.”
Carr, one of the highest-rated JC cornerbacks in the nation last season at Pasadena (Calif.) College, is trying to hold off non-scholarship player Pierre Singfield, a transfer from Pima College in Tucson.
Josh Jordan and Deveron Carr currently make up the second tier of the camp audition as they try to repeat Bolden’s achievement in 2007 — win a starting CB spot as a true freshman.
“Consistency is what makes a starter,” first-year cornerbacks coach Greg Burns said. “Once we establish who is the most consistent, then it comes down to playmaking ability.
“The guys pretty much have all of the same tools in speed and quickness, although some guys are a little faster than others. But when it’s all said and done, consistency is what matters most. That’s what I’m looking for.”
Travis Smith, a junior who was in the mix for the open position during the spring, appears to be settling in as the backup on Bolden’s side.
Coach Dennis Erickson said that cornerback is the most pressing depth-chart issue for his team.
“Carr and Singfield are the main guys battling, and Travis is behind Omar,” Erickson said. “That’s where we’re at right now, but that could change. We’re going to play our two best guys.”
The 5-foot-9, 180-pound Terell Carr — he is of no relation to Deveron — had an operation to remove a damaged portion of his lateral meniscus, an ailment he played through the last two seasons. He said that he is still having difficulty planting his foot and accelerating.
“Those are two things that are, obviously, vital for a cornerback,” Carr said. “I just need to keep building my strength, but right now, it’s difficult for me. Once we get through camp and I get a couple of days off, I should be right for the first game.”
Singfield, a 5-11, 210-pounder, has been one of the biggest personnel surprises on the team. He had two pass breakups and an interception in ASU’s spring game and has continued making plays in fall practice.
After two years at Pima, Singfield had no Division I scholarship offers but a handful of walk-on invitations. His older brother, Antoine, played at Arizona in 2003.
“I won’t say I’m ahead of schedule, but my goal is to make the first team,” Singfield said. “I’ll try to keep improving. I had lots of confidence after the spring, and I want to continue what I started.”
Burns indicated that, among the freshmen, Jordan is ahead of Deveron Carr, a product of Scottsdale Chaparral High.
“I would like to think that one of those guys can start,” Burns said. “But I don’t know if Terell and Pierre are going to let that happen.”
It is possible that Jordan or Deveron Carr could shake up the depth chart later. Bolden was not on the first string coming out of camp in 2007; he earned a promotion in late September and, in his first start, returned an interception for a touchdown at Stanford.
“I told (the freshmen) what the older guys told me: Don’t be scared to mix it up in there, because the coaches will throw you into the fire,” Bolden said. “You can’t play afraid out there. …
“Every receiver is different, but they are all good. I learned quickly that you can never take a play off. You can’t take the scout team lightly. It’s full throttle in every game, so you’d better be ready.”