John Hargis is a do everything type of guy.
Dennis Erickson and his coaching staff had Hargis moved from defensive tackle in 2007, to starting left tackle on offense in 2008. In 2009, Hargis solidified himself as a rock solid offensive lineman moving inside to left guard.
No matter what role was needed from him, Hargis elevated his game and competed with passion and determination, each and every snap.
This season, Hargis was the most experienced member of the Sun Devils' offensive line, as he started the past 26 games dating back to 2007 for Arizona State.
Unfortunately, his role will be limited to cheerleader, and to be quite honest, he will do everything it takes to motivate his teammates, no matter what the score is or the opponent on the field.
Every team needs a leader, a player that will hype up the squad for big games, calm the team down in the huddle when times are tough, or excite the crowd after a huge play.
Hargis was that guy.
At 6'3", 312 lbs., Hargis might intimidate most people with his "lumberjack" looking beard and dominant stature, but that could not be further from the truth.
In the locker room, Hargis is soft spoken, kind and respectful to all teammates, coaches, and staff members. It did not matter what the situation was or who he was conversing with, he knew that every individual was fighting their own personal battle, and he respected that.
Not only was Hargis a leader for the ASU Sun Devils, but the Mesa, AZ native was a role model of the field as well.
John also volunteered with his high school (Red Mountain Mesa, AZ), and their "Best Buddies" program, which befriends individuals with autism.
Honestly, Hargis was perfect for this.
Being personable at every turn, the children's spirits had to instantly shine bright as he walked through the door.
But Hargis did not stop at just helping out his local community and football team, he took his work to a foreign country.
John Hargis spent the past two summer vacations in Nicaragua with his church youth group assisting the less fortunate members of their own locale.
No matter what the situation was, on the field, or off the field, Hargis was the man for the job. His presence will surely be missed in the locker room, at the practice field, in the weight room, and at his left guard position.
So, the question is, where will the leadership come from?
Most squads turn to the man under center calling the signals. For Arizona State, that man has yet to be named.
Is that a good thing or bad thing?
From a competition standpoint, yes it is good to keep the job up for grabs, however, a team can become divided with uncertainty at a critical position like quarterback (see 2006 Carpenter-Keller controversy and 2009 Sullivan-Osweiler-Szakacsy).
The Sun Devils do not have an experienced running back in the backfield to turn to when the going gets tough.
If Dimitri Nance was still hitting the holes with power, he would take on the role. However, he was more of a quiet leader last Fall.
Even the wide receivers lack leadership.
The most experience wide receiver is Kerry Taylor, and he is far from a model citizen.
Last Fall, Taylor was suspended for the first two games of the season due to an "academic integrity" issue. His play on the field has been far from consistent as well.
The defense is full of leaders on and off the field, however, there is no Mike Nixon or Travis Goethel to look up to this season. However, each side of the ball needs that one guy to look to when nothing goes right.
The one player that might be closest to Hargis in terms of on and off the field accomplishments is Garth Gerhart, ASU's projected starting center.
Gerhart is a junior, who has started 10 games in his career and appeared in four other contests in a relief role. The Norco, CA product has played both guard positions and solidified himself as one of the premier centers in the conference.
Not only was Gerhart one of the top centers coming out of high school, (ranked No. 7 by Rivals.com and No. 1 in the West region), he excelled in the classroom as well, earning a 3.8 grade point average.
Folks say that football is 80 percent mental, that might be true, but as a center in the Pac-10 Conference, you have to know what line adjustments to make, what calls to make, and make a perfect snap all in a split second.
Think it is easy? I doubt it.
ASU offensive line coach Gregg Smith tabbed Gerhart as the next Mike Pollak, when Gerhart committed back in 2007.
Although Gerhart's size is not comparable to Pollak, who is starting for the Indianapolis Colts, but the 6'1", 305 lbs. center is lean and powerful.
With the leadership role up for grabs among other positions, Gerhart looks to take on the role of team captain come 2010.
Sure, he is not a Senior, but sometimes your brightest and most composed players are not the most experienced players.
Some players just have natural born talents and attributes. Then again, looking at Garth's older brother Toby, their parents had to have instilled all the necessary qualities to succeed.
In 2010, Garth will have another teacher advising him.
Garth and his fellow Sun Devils will be in good hands, if they listen closely to the words of encouragement of one John Hargis.
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