Coming off one of what might be his best game yet as a Sun Devil, in which he recorded 13 tackles, Brandon Magee isn’t concerned about his performance in a loss to USC. His attention is centered on his helping his team get back to their winning ways.
“I really don’t look at it as my best game,” Magee explained, “because it doesn’t matter since we lost the game. I just care about wins and I could care less about my stats and how I do. I just want to win a game. For me the best game I could have is for our team to go out there and win.”
As someone who grew up in Corona, Calif., playing in Los Angeles in front of many of his close family and friends, Magee went into the game against the Trojans with the same mentality he does every contest.
“I approach every game the same way,” Magee said. “Southern California was never my home town college, I never watched them growing up. It was cool to have a lot of my family there for the support, but they come to a lot of my games.”
Although the Sun Devils are in a midst of a four-game skid and sitting at 5-5 record, which is very reminiscent of the 2011 campaign, Magee sees a lot of improvement in this team compared to last year. He believes the future is bright for the Sun Devils thanks to the new mentality that first-year Head Coach Todd Graham has established.
“He really has us take pride in our character,” Magee stated. “You have to have good character to play on this team. He promised us that he won’t recruit anyone with poor character. If you don’t practice hard you aren’t going to play, it doesn’t matter who you are.”
Brandon admits that it was tough for the team to adjust to Graham’s new mentality during spring practice last year. Yet, with the help and encouragement that Magee and other team leaders provided, the culture and expectations Graham wanted to establish were able to be realized.
“It was tough, as he was teaching a lot of the little things that we weren’t used to,” Magee recalled. “He was making us sprint on and off the field, he wanted us to make sure that we hustle and give it your all every snap during practice. Guys weren’t used to giving their full effort on the practice field.
“Off the field we had to watch a lot more film and be more focused while watching film. Expectations were raised a lot higher, and I just tried to encourage our guys to keep trying.”
Graham credits Magee for being one of the reasons that this aforementioned transition went as seamless as it has.
"Brandon has been a catalyst on the defensive side of the ball when it comes to that [the transition to new defensive scheme].” Graham said, “I think he's helped us to bring others with him. Cameron Marshall is really critical on the offensive side of the ball, and to do the same thing. Both of those guys know what it is to be a Sun Devil, and it's very important to them."
Magee credits Graham and Defensive Coordinator Paul Randolph’s new defensive system as one of the reasons for his personal success this season, but admits that the new scheme would help any playmaker thrive.
“I think this defensive scheme fits our whole team extremely well,” Magee said. “For me I am a box player, so I scavenge for some tackles every now and then. It’s great though as the [defensive] scheme plays to everyone’s strengths. It’s suited for a hardworking defense which we are.”
When asked about Senior Day, it was clearly visible to witness the emotions that Brandon Magee is going through as he gets ready to run out the Pat Tillman tunnel for the last time this Saturday.
“I can’t even explain,” said a teary-eyed Magee. “I can’t even start talking about it honestly. I will get too emotional if I talk about that.”
(Minutes later Magee had to cut the interview short because he was overcome with emotion).
Even with all of the emotion that Saturday will certainly produce, the team must turn their attention to Washington State, a team that Magee insists the Sun Devils must not overlook if they are to end their losing streak this week.
“They are the number one passing team in the PAC-12,” Magee said, “[and]they try to spread you out every play. Our linebackers have to do a good job in forcing pass drops and jamming their wide receivers. We have to get pressure as well with our front four.
“We also have to stop the run. They will mix in the run to try to catch you off guard and we need to be disciplined as a defense.”
When asked what message he would deliver to the team before the game on Saturday, Brandon Magee said it will be very simple and straight to the point.
“Win for the seniors,” Magee said. “I am a senior and we need to win it for these guys who gave a lot to this program over the past four to five years.”
One of the biggest positives that Brandon Magee will take away from his experiences at ASU over the past five years will be the opportunities the Sun Devils gave him to excel on and off the field.
“Being part of the Sun Devil family and getting to interact with the alumni and hearing their past experiences was great,” Magee admitted. “I got the chance to play here with a lot of great players. They gave me the opportunity to show off my skills and be a part of a great team and led by great coaches.
“I will be leaving ASU a better person than when I came here.”