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Photos spur Sun Devils to play harder

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 13, 2014 at 8:00 pm •  Published: August 13, 2014
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TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Receiver Eric Lauderdale has a photo of his late parents, his grandmother and sister attached to his locker. Defensive back Damarious Randall has one of his mother. Offensive lineman Jamil Douglas has his mother and sister.

The photos go around the room, on the lockers of Arizona State players and coaches alike. Mothers and fathers, grandparents and siblings, coaches and guardians.

Each one is a reminder, of the people who made sacrifices so they could become Division I football players, that they're not just playing for themselves or their teammates.

"Every morning we wake up at 5 a.m. and there's some mornings where you really don't feel like doing stuff," Randall said. "You can just look at your locker and see how many sacrifices that person made for you, and you want to make sacrifices for that person to honor them."

Football coaches — coaches in any sport, really — are constantly searching for ways to motivate their players, to wring out every last drop of effort from them. Team bonding is a big focus; the tighter the group, the more they'll want to give their best effort and not let each other down.

Arizona State coach Todd Graham has had his hand on the motivational wheel since arriving in the desert in 2011, bringing with him ideas that he had during previous stops in his coaching career.

Like many coaches, Graham has decorated Arizona State's facilities with inspirational phrases and photos, including pictures of the national championship and Pac-12 trophies. He also had the team return to Camp Tontozona for fall camp as a bonding experience and, since last season, Arizona State's players have entered the field for games through a tunnel that has a life-sized image of Pat Tillman at the end of it.

This year, Graham added decals with an image of the Pac-12 trophy on the backs of the players' helmets and came up with the photo idea, hoping it would provide an extra dose of inspiration every day before the players go to work.

"I look at it for every day we get dressed, we blow the whistle, we're looking at that picture every day and every day we honor that," Graham said. "If I can get them to care about their teammates and each other one one-hundredth of like they care about that person in that picture, we've got something special."

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