Arizona State’s football team, led by head coach Dennis Erickson, held its annual preseason media day on Saturday.
(Erickson on Burfict after attack: “I’m really proud of how he’s matured.”)
Not surprisingly, Erickson was asked during his question-and-answer session to give his thoughts about the highest profile player on the squad: star linebacker Vontaze Burfict.
In his remarks about Burfict, a pre-season national player of the year of THE SPORTING NEWS, Erickson touted the Arizona State linebacker’s progress as an emerging team leader who has “matured a lot“:
“He’s (Burfict) been a leader all winter and spring and summer. .. So far in the five practices we’ve had he’s been a leader out there. .. He’s matured a heckuva lot, he really has.”
“I’m really proud of how he’s matured, I’m really proud of where he’s at.”
Along with Erickson, Arizona State wide receiver Aaron Pflugrad, offensive lineman Bo Moos, linebacker Brandon Magee, kicker Alex Garoutte and safety Eddie Elder were all in attendance to take questions from the media on Saturday.
Why? The events inside the Arizona State locker room last Wednesday.
In the past 72 hours I’ve learned that Burfict violently attacked an Arizona State teammate after a recent Sun Devil practice.
In the aftermath of a verbal confrontation between Burfict and Arizona State wide receiver Kevin Ozier during a Wednesday Sun Devil practice, the star ASU linebacker initiated a blindside attack on Ozier from inside the team’s locker room, sucker-punching the diminutive wide receiver in the face.
The force of the blow knocked Ozier, who Burfict outweighs by 50 pounds, to the ground.
Ozier, who was initially unresponsive after Burfict delivered the brutal, blindside shot to his head, eventually recovered from the assault.
Despite Erickson being fully aware of Burfict’s attack on Ozier, the Arizona State coach has not held Burfict out of any practices since last Wednesday’s incident nor mentioned Burfict’s locker room assault on Ozier to the public.
In addition to his missing Saturday’s annual Arizona State football media day, a national magazine cover shoot involving Burfict was also recently scrapped.