TEMPE, Ariz. — Statistically, Arizona State’s Will Sutton, when compared with his junior season, had a down year in 2013.
As the reigning Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, Sutton became the focus of opposing team, with offenses keying on the 6-foot-1, 304-pound defensive tackle.
Before the snap, where was No. 90, who had 12 sacks and 23.5 tackles for a loss last year, lining up?
“The protection always slid to him. Obviously, he got double-teamed a lot. We tried to do some things to keep (teams) from doing that,” ASU coach Todd Graham said. “He learned that it ain’t about your stats, man. It’s about the team success. He’s become a great team player and a great team leader, really valuable; and had a better year than he did last year. I know a lot people might dispute that, but in my opinion, he did no doubt about that.”
Others agree with you, Coach.
The Associated Press named Sutton, who recorded four sacks and 11.5 tackles for a loss, a first team All-America for the second straight season.
“What a great honor. Really proud of him,” Graham said.
Sutton, one of seven Sun Devil football players to graduate Tuesday and thus unavailable for comment after practice, is the 15th AP First Team All-America selection in school history and only the third to earn the honor in back-to-back seasons, joining safeties David Fulcher and Mike Richardson.
“I remember last year when we sat down and he said, ‘Coach, what am I going to do if I come back?’ I said, ‘You’re going to do the same thing. You’re going to do it again.’ He said, ‘OK. I got that.’ So, he believed me and he bought into that,” Graham said.
“He made the right decision, the only decision that I can imagine him making. On the same hand, sometimes I’ve given guys advice in the past that I’ve told them that they should go out. I don’t think it’s one answer to every guy. It’s what’s best for them personally. And I know that what was best for him was to come back. He’s going to have a great career ahead of him because he stayed, because he finished that degree that he promised his Mom he would do.
“Just really proud of him and how he’s grown,” Graham continued. “It’s a big, big honor. He’s very deserving of it.”