Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Sometimes spring practice brings bad news: a broken ankle, an academic suspension, a player or two who can't seem to get on track.
And sometimes, unfortunately, the news goes beyond "bad." That's the kind of news Arizona State's Dennis Erickson was forced to announce yesterday, confirming that two senior Sun Devil starters' seasons are in jeopardy after tearing their ACLs in spring camp:
Senior cornerback Omar Bolden and senior receiver T.J. Simpson will undergo surgery next week and continue rehab.
Simpson was the first to be injured followed by Bolden two days later during practice last week. Both players performed big last year and were expected to do the same in the upcoming season. Bolden was an All-Pac-10 selection, and Simpson had 29 catches for 481 yards.
"Those guys have been here ever since I've been here," Erickson said after practice Tuesday. "They battled through a lot of things. They worked their rear ends off and now they get to this point in their career and they get hurt."
Even details like "All-Pac-10" and "481 receiving yards" don't entirely do justice to how devastating the losses of Bolden and Simpson are. Without Bolden, the Sun Devils not only won't start one of the nation's best cover corners, they'll likely be forced to replace him with untested redshirt freshman Devan Spann. (The Sun Devils now have only two scholarship corners available this spring.) Simpson, meanwhile, was easily ASU's biggest deep threat a year ago, the only Sun Devil wideout with more than three receptions to average better than 13.5 yards a reception.
Thanks to USC's postseason ban, the Sun Devils have been the tentative offseason favorite to claim the inaugural Pac-12 South divisional title. But with every further blow in what's been a tumultuous offseason -- be it the concussion-forced departure of Steven Threet, an uninspiring recruiting class, players arrested or shot -- ASU's favorite role has been more and more tentative, and now the loss of Bolden and Simpson is the biggest blow of all.
Meaning that unless Brock Osweiler and Vontaze Burfict live up to every inch of their hype and then some, it may finally be time for the prognosticators to look elsewhere.