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Options For Replacing Arizona State's Most Important Departures

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D.J. Foster figures to be a focal point of Arizona State's rushing attack next season. Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images.
D.J. Foster figures to be a focal point of Arizona State's rushing attack next season. Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images.

Part of looking ahead to the next college football season is projecting how a team will replace its departed starters.

The Arizona State Sun Devils return plenty of talented athletes in 2014, including quarterback Taylor Kelly and wide receiver Jaelen Strong. But there will be a handful of players who will need to step up.

Here is a list of Arizona State's seven most important departures and a glimpse at how the Sun Devils may fill the void.

Tight End: Chris Coyle

2013 stats: 29 receptions, 423 yards, 4 touchdowns

Possible replacement: De'Marieya Nelson

Nelson came on late in the season with a breakout game against Arizona. In ASU's 58-21 victory over the Wildcats, he caught one pass for 21 yards and rushed eight times for 35 yards and two touchdowns. The 6-foot-3, 230-pound tight end showed outstanding versatility and seems to be the logical choice to replace Coyle.

Running Back: Marion Grice

2013 stats: 191 rushes, 996 yards, 14 touchdowns

Possible replacements: D.J. Foster, Kalen Ballage

Grice will be a big loss for the Sun Devils. Not only was he a great running back, he was also versatile and had good hands. Foster rushed for 501 yards and six touchdowns and will be ASU's primary option out of the backfield. However, the Sun Devils often use two-back looks, so it will be interesting to see who fills that second spot. Ballage, a four-star recruit from Colorado, could be that guy. The 6-foot-2, 220-pound back was the top-rated offensive recruit in ASU's 2014 class. He will likely see the field in his freshman season, but it's uncertain how big a role he will play.

Defensive Tackle: Will Sutton

2013 stats: 48 tackles, 2 sacks

Possible replacement: Dalvon Stuckey

Replacing a player that won back-to-back Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year awards is no easy task. However, the Sun Devils hope they found the answer in Stuckey, a highly-rated junior college defensive tackle. At 6-foot-3, 305 pounds, Stuckey has the size ASU is looking for on the defensive line. As a junior college transfer, he has had time to physically develop, and the Sun Devils hope he is able to make an immediate impact.

Defensive End: Carl Bradford

2013 stats: 62 tackles, 8.5 sacks, 1 interception, 1 touchdown

Possible replacement: Darrius Caldwell

Simply put, the Sun Devils do not have a lot of options to replace Bradford at the devil backer position, which is a cross between a defensive end and an outside linebacker. Enter junior college transfer Darius Caldwell. Although the 6-foot-5, 245-pound Caldwell will be new to the Sun Devils' scheme, he may be starting on Opening Day. Caldwell played defensive end at Pearl River Community College in Mississippi and has two seasons of eligibility remaining.

Defensive Backs: Alden Darby, Osahon Irabor and Robert Nelson

Possible Replacements: Lloyd Carrington, Kweishi Brown, Laiu Moeakiola

The secondary is taking a significant hit. With the losses of Darby, Irabor and Nelson, ASU is losing both starting cornerbacks and a safety. Lloyd Carrington, who followed Todd Graham from Pittsburgh to ASU and played in nickel last season, will likely take over at one of the corner positions. Kweishi Brown, a junior college transfer, may take over the other corner spot. Brown is more physically developed than some of the other options. At safety, Laiu Moeakiola will have a chance to compete for the job. Moeakiola has seen limited action in his two seasons, appearing in six games and making 12 tackles.