Arizona State offensive lineman Matt Hustad has decided to end his football career.
Hustad, a redshirt junior who began fall camp as the first-team left guard and has suffered a laundry list of knee injuries in his career, cited future quality of life concerns as the reason for his departure.
"It's a sad thing for as much work as he's put in the four years [he's been here]," ASU coach Dennis Erickson said.
Hustad played in just five games during his injury riddled career after arriving at ASU as a highly touted recruit out of Helena, Mont. He did not attend practice Wednesday and was not available for comment.
"Coming into [fall camp] he was going to see how [his knee] was and then it swelled up on him," Erickson said. "He felt it was just too painful to play, and the game's hard enough. He'll always be a Sun Devil. I feel bad for him because he could have contributed and he could have helped us."
Erickson said he had been anticipating the possibility of losing Hustad.
"Going into camp, I kind of felt like that could happen," the coach said. "It wasn't like it came out of the blue."
The loss of Hustad, who is staying at ASU as a student with the goal of gaining admittance into Barrett's Honor College, is just another in a long line of devastating hits to the Sun Devil offensive line, blows that have been seemingly endless the past three seasons.
During spring practice, projected starting left guard Jon Hargis went down with what was originally believed to be a season-ending injury, though Erickson believes Hargis may return sometime during the second half of the season.
Just before the start of fall camp, projected starting right guard Zach Schlink was also forced to end his career due to injuries that kept him off the field all of last season.
Throw in the loss of Hustad, and the Sun Devils are beginning to have to rely on the depth Erickson raved about before the start of spring practice.
"It hurts our depth; there's no question about it," Erickson said. "With [Hustad] we're two-deep [on the offensive line]. Now we're there, but we have to play freshman, or are looking at freshman."
Luckily for the Sun Devils, some of those freshmen have been promising during fall camp.
Redshirt freshmen Evan Finkenberg and Kody Koebensky have each taken snaps with the first team since practices began last week (Koebensky spent Wednesday's practice as the second-team center).
True freshman Jamil Douglas has also been impressive in fall camp, earning snaps at tackle with the second team.
"I'm still get acclimated, getting used to the terminology and trying to get used to the speed," Douglas said. "Hopefully I can get acclimated to it and get a chance to play."
During the second portion of 11-on-11 drills in Wednesday's afternoon practice session, the Sun Devils worked on goal line situation, where the new look quick-strike offense found some success against a defense that was kept guessing.
Junior quarterback Samson Szakacsy was particularly impressive, using his speed to roll out of the pocket and find receivers, including a touchdown pass he threw across his body to junior T.J. Simpson.
"He'll be pretty valuable [at the goal line], and he's playing pretty well right now," Erickson said of Szakacsy. "He's a legit guy to compete for this job. As we go through this thing the next two or three weeks, he's in the hunt."
After 10 practices, it's no surprise that players who are spending the majority of the time together are beginning to show some signs of frustration.
During Wendesday's practice, sophomore linebacker Vontaze Burfict was in the middle of the scrum that involved much of the team. Burfict and junior receiver Michael Willie were held out for several plays to cool down after the fracus.
"The bottom line is enthusiasm and aggressiveness and all that stuff is one thing," Erickson said. "The thing they do have to understand is you can't take it on the field when you play because it can cost you football games."