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ASU coach Graham: Kelly, Sutton helping to fill leadership void

LISTEN: Todd Graham, ASU Head Football Coach

One year ago, Taylor Kelly was not Arizona State’s starting quarterback. Though the team was looking to replace Brock Osweiler, the sophomore didn’t even figure to earn the backup job.

Then he went out and passed for 3,039 yards and 29 touchdowns, led the team to a win in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl and, well, things have certainly changed.

Now, ASU head coach Todd Graham told Arizona Sports 620’s Doug and Wolf, Kelly is not only the quarterback, but the team’s leader on offense, too.

“He’s got a year under his belt now,” Graham said. “Just the way the whole team looks at him now is different than it was when he was last spring when — this time, last spring he was third-team quarterback — so obviously the leadership and the direction that the team is, obviously we’ve got a quarterback and the team looks to him for that leadership.”

Makes sense.

Graham added that senior defensive lineman Will Sutton is the one people look to on defense.

“Will was a great player last year,” Graham accurately stated. “He was defensive player of the year, a consensus All-American, but he just played. I wouldn’t categorize him as a leader.”

But as is the case with Kelly, it’s amazing the kind of difference one year can make.

“He has taken that leadership role, and we’ve challenged him with that,” Graham said. “We’ve challenged him, that we’re going to coach him harder than anybody else on the team, that he’s the best player on defense and we’ve got to set the standard with him.”

Graham pointed to the “PT42” jerseys, which are given to players who exemplify all the coaching staff is looking for in a given player. Four players donned one Thursday, though Sutton is leading the way.