Defensive backs at Arizona State have traditionally taken a back seat to the stellar play of the defensive line or linebackers in the House of Heat. With the NFL chock full of big names like Terrell Suggs, Vontaze Burfict and most recently Will Sutton and Carl Bradford, it is easy to see why the secondary would tend to be overlooked.
The battle for the no.3 has been passed down from current NFL safety, Omar Bolden who wore the “magic number” for four years in five seasons in Tempe to Damarious Randall, who will play his second and final season for the Sun Devils this fall. Randall is looking to do Bolden proud by bringing more great plays to the number.
In 2007, as a true freshman, Bolden played in all 13 games and was named starting cornerback in the fifth game of the season.
Randall made his first appearance in the second game of the 2013 season and made his first start against Notre Dame—also the fifth game of the season.
Both players made an immediate impact when given the chance to shine. In Bolden’s first start, at Stanford, he intercepted a pass and returned it 29 yards for a touchdown.
In Randall’s first start against Notre Dame, he tallied a game-high 17 tackles along with 1.5 tackles for loss.
Although Bolden and Randall come from opposite ends of the country with Bolden from the inland empire of California and Randall from the panhandle of Florida, both players found their way to Arizona and have been dominant on the gridiron, with many taking notice.
Accolades for Bolden include first team freshman All-American nods from the Football Writers Association of America and Scout.com while receiving second team recognition from Rivals.com and College Football News.
While Randall was at nearby Mesa Community College, he was named NJCAA first team All-American, and earned the Arizona Community College Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year award along with first team All-Conference and first team All-Western States Football League.
Bolden was drafted in the fourth round by the Denver Broncos despite missing the entire 2011 season with a torn ACL. In his final season in 2010, he racked up 52 tackles, 37 solo and 3 for a loss of eight yards. He also nabbed three interceptions for 85 yards and a forced fumble.
Randall’s numbers were a step up from Bolden’s in 2013. He recorded 71 tackles, 48 solo and 5.5 for a loss of 19 yards. He also picked off three passes for 90 yards and forced two fumbles.
In a defense that will only be returning a handful of starters, Randall has the chance to shine in his senior season and meet Bolden in the NFL.