By Lucas Robbins, Digital Communications Intern
The words on the black shirts worn by the Sun Devil football equipment managers stated the theme for the upcoming 2014-2015 Sun Devil football season, “Unfinished Business.”
The defending Pac-12 South Champions survived five days of football and team bonding without cell phones. The players and coaches took the first step toward handling that “Unfinished Business” and they started their journey in same place as the 1986, 1996 and all other great Sun Devil teams started, Camp Tontozona.
“We had ‘Unfinished Business’ last year,” said quarterback Taylor Kelly. “Our goals were to win the Pac-12 Championship and go to the Rose Bowl. Now it’s a new season and that’s our word ‘Unfinished Business’ we’re going to attack it that way and go handle our business this year.”
Over fifty years ago legendary Sun Devil football head coach Frank Kush established the tradition that is Camp T. Today the camp has flourished into not only a bonding experience for the players, but also an opportunity for the fans to connect as well.
“It’s the greatest tradition in college football,” said deputy head coach Mike Norvell. “This is a special place, a special community and obviously we’ve got a special fan base. This is something that is dear to my heart and dear to the development of our football team. Day in and day out, the support we get from the fans is incredible, when we walk into Sun Devil Stadium let’s keep that thing rocking!”
In mid-August is when the Sun Devil faithful make the annual summer pilgrimage to Camp T. Sun Devil law is what motivates these fans to wake up early in the morning, dress their families in gold and make the road trip to Payson, Ariz. The final practice of Camp T gives the fans one final chance to catch a preview of their boys before they line up against the Weber State Wildcats in the season opener on August 28th.
The Maroon & Gold practice on Saturday, August 16 was the finale of head coach Todd Graham’s third trip to Arizona’s Rim Country. While it was a long and hot day for the players and fans, an aura of excitement permeated throughout the trees of the Tonto National Forest and the practice field by the creek.
“The fans mean everything to us, they are the 12th Man,” said wide receiver Jaelen Strong. “Practice went well, a lot of work got done. We’re really excited, we have twelve days until we play our first game but I feel like we’re in a good spot.
When asked one word to describe Camp T, the most frequent responses from Sun Devil fans were “Tradition, Family and Hot.” However the response from fan, Robert Pond, may have been the best answer of the day, “Go Devils!”
It’s clear ASU football fans are more than enthusiastic to see how Coach Graham and his team will handle their ‘Unfinished Business’ this upcoming season, especially since the Devils have been improving each year under his leadership.
“I missed out on Todd Graham’s first season, so I’m excited,” said fan Jeff Hardison. “The vibe he Coach Graham puts out is just real positive, he wants to win championships. Both the weather and the gameplay are hot!”