August 6, 2008

Magee, Bass get to work

Freshman linebacker Brandon Magee arrived in Tempe to join the Arizona State football program one day after an online story published by the Riverside Press-Enterprise on its website, www.pe.com, said on Saturday he would bypass school and instead sign with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, which drafted Magee in the 29th round of this year's Major League Baseball Draft.

"They called me before I came out here," Magee said of the Devil Rays following practice Tuesday. "It was good money but at the end I decided not to sign. I was drafted in the 29th round and they ended up offering me more like fifth round money (typically mid to high five figures though Magee declined to say how much) so it was pretty good, but I decided not to do it.

"I just felt like I wasn't ready to do that yet. I just wanted to be a kid and play football from ASU and just spend time with my friends and meet all these new people."

Magee and fellow freshman Ryan Bass arrived late Sunday, just a day before the team's first practice of camp after making the drive from Corona, Calif., where they played together at Centennial High School along with linebacker Shelly Lyons, who traveled to Tempe last week.

"It's good to have two of my closets friends with me on the team," said Bass, a running back who is among the most highly regarded recruits in the nation, a Rivals100 member. "We're real close. Every night we hang out together, talk about practice. It's real cool to have other people out here that you know, it makes it a lot easier on me."

Magee and Bass took extra coursework after graduating from high school in June in order to ensure initial eligibility through the NCAA Clearinghouse. Both said they continued to train and work so that they'd have a chance to earn immediate playing time.

"During the day time I did school and at night I'd come home lift weights, try to run a little bit and get ready for college," Bass said. "I still need to get in better shape though. Mostly I was focused on school (during the summer). I'm very proud of myself. It was a long journey and I made it. So now I just got to work."

Bass started his senior high school season at 205 pounds, but lost about 10 pounds through the playing year. He reported to ASU at 190 pounds, which is more than starter Keegan Herring has weighed at any point in his career to this point. Herring came into camp at about 195 pounds.

"I feel good right now," Bass said. "I feel fast but I want to get even faster. Tempo is the big thing here. The speed of the game is way quicker than high school."

"It's up-tempo man," Magee agreed. "This is college football. You start to realize, it's not Centennial any more. You've got a playbook. I only had like four plays in high school."

At times through the first two days of practice, Bass and Magee have seemingly been trying to do too much, too quickly. On one play Monday, Bass exploded to the hole only to stumble over virtually untouched.

"It's about poise," Bass said. "You've got to keep your cool and not get ahead of yourself. You've just got to go with the flow and settle down. "You've got to know your assignments, know your play and that's what I just am trying to do, learn my responsibilities out here."

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