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ASU Fall Football Camp: Safety Elder Assumes Leadership Role In Secondary

TEMPE -- Eddie Elder is a busy guy at football practice these days.

Injuries in the Arizona State defensive backfield have Elder, a senior safety, taking not only his customary first-team reps, but a few with the second unit as well.

Elder's not complaining. He's also not buying into the prevalent opinion that ASU's secondary will be the weak link on an otherwise pretty strong football team, despite the Sun Devils' growing rash of injuries overall.

"It's kind of a personal thing, because if you're a part of the group, you don't want to feel like you're the weak spot even though it may be obvious that we need the most help," Elder said. "We're going to try to better each other, try to help the defense out as much as we can. We're going to try to progress throughout the camp."

Elder feels the ASU defense has more chemistry than last year, and that will be key. He's even got a nickname for the three linebackers in front of him that honors Elder's place of birth, Oakland -- the Bash Brothers.

The 1988 Oakland A's had the original Bash Brothers with McGwire and Canseco. The Sun Devils' version was Vontaze Burfict, Shelley Lyons and Brandon Magee until Magee went down with a season-ending Achilles injury Saturday.

"They're going to get after it," Elder said. "That energizes everybody else on defense and especially the offense, that makes them go down and score. We come back on the field and do our thing." 

Elder, a thoughtful guy majoring in sociology who looked up to the late Sean Taylor for his playing style in the NFL, enjoyed his best day as a Sun Devil to date when ASU beat Arizona last fall in Tucson. He's got one last season to try to top that.

"I have to take on the leadership role in the secondary because of the loss of Omar Bolden," Elder said. "It's hard being out, I know that firsthand from experience."

Speaking of experience, Elder has learned from his elders -- he's close with his family -- and wants to one day be the guy who imparts his wisdom to youngsters. He grew up in Sacramento and wants to return there when his playing days are over and mentor and coach kids.

"That's what people did with me and several other people back home, and it was a success, this little program we had back home," he said.