With Camp Tontozona and the first day of classes behind it, Arizona State's football team began preparing Tuesday in Tempe for a Sept. 6 game with Northern Arizona.
A number of walk-ons who did not accompany the team to camp, based on number limits set by the NCAA, rejoined the team Tuesday, including defensive end Josh Brayer, cornerback Nick Elliott and receiver Wyatt Poole.
Coach Dirk Koetter said the team invited nine walk-ons, but some had “paperwork issues" and were unable to participate in Tuesday's practice.
SPEAKING OF WALK-ONS
Walk-ons face an uphill battle to make a Division I roster, but Koetter said he has been impressed with fullback Kellen Mills, a 6-foot-3, 229-pound true freshman. “That guy might find his way onto the field," Koetter said. “We're going to push the envelope with him. We have to find out if he's for real, not only as a fullback but as a special teams player."
The results of an MRI on defensive end Kyle Caldwell's strained knee showed no damage to his medial collateral ligament. Caldwell could return in a limited capacity for this weekend's scrimmage.
Koetter said Caldwell will be fitted with a special brace in the next couple of days.
SOMETHING TO CROW ABOUT
ASU president Michael Crow attended Tuesday's practice, an annual tradition for the first day of practice after camp. His main message to the team, which he repeated several times: graduate.
Koetter was asked if the team would be able to win the Pac-10 without an improved running game.
“At this time of year we're two weeks out from playing and everybody's so bored that they're coming up with all these conspiracy theories. Let's just get to the games and every team will take on its own personality," he said. “We're going to try to run the ball better, but if we don't we don't. Then we're going to throw it better and we're going to play good D."
ASU averaged 2.5 yards a carry last season.
EXTRA POINTS: Koetter said defensive tackle Matt Mason (arm) will be fitted with a special brace and could return to action by the end of the week. . . . New York Newsday's preseason football poll had the Sun Devils ranked No. 7 in the nation, ahead of all other Pac-10 teams.