Will Sutton, the reigning Pat Tillman Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, announced he will return to Arizona State for his senior season, eschewing the the popular thinking that he’d leave early for the NFL draft.
“It’s been a long decision, it’s been a hard decision, but my decision is that I’m going to stay and play another year at ASU,” Sutton said Tuesday amid thunderous applause at his press conference.
Sutton, a junior from Centennial High School in Corona, California, had a dominant season in which he earned consensus All-American honors, becoming the 18th player in ASU history to do so.
Sutton was unblockable throughout most of the season, finishing with 63 tackles, 23.5 for loss and 13 sacks. He capped off his campaign by wreaking havoc in Navy’s backfield during ASU’s decisive 62-28 win at the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco December 29. Sutton finished with 3.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and took home the game’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player award.
The junior didn’t pinpoint just one factor that helped him arrive at his decision.
“It was a lot of things, there was a lot of pros and cons, but some of the main the things were coming back, winning a championship, doing it for my teammates and getting my education,” Sutton said.
Getting Sutton back in 2013 is a huge coup for Arizona State head coach Todd Graham. In fact, Sutton’s return, along with fellow defensive playmakers Carl Bradford, Chris Young and Osahon Irabor could have the Sun Devils at or near the top of the Pac-12 South in most projections.
“He’s the best defensive lineman I’ve ever coached and one of the best defensive players I’ve ever coached,” Graham said. “I think it speaks volumes about his commitment to our team. I do think his teammates had a lot to do with that decision.”
With the decision to return now behind him, Sutton was asked “what’s next?”
“I’ve got class at six o’clock,” he joked.