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Longino earns 2nd straight Pac-12 defensive player of week honors

Southern California's Cody Kessler (6) dives for a first down as he gets past Arizona State's Antonio Longino (32) during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

TEMPE, Ariz. — Arizona State redshirt senior linebacker Antonio Longino was named Pac-12 defensive player of the week on Monday, marking the second consecutive week he has won the award.

Longino had nine tackles (seven solos) and four sacks for a loss of 13 total yards in the Sun Devils’ 52-37 win over Arizona on Saturday in the Territorial Cup game at Sun Devil Stadium. He is the first Sun Devil to post four-plus sacks in a game since Derron Ware did it in 2006.

“I don’t know that we’ve had a guy in the four years that has adapted and improved as much as he has in one season,” coach Todd Graham said. “He’s played his two best games of the year in the last two weeks.

“Tony’s had a remarkable year and (is) a guy that I think has really positioned himself to play a bunch more football. He’s a guy that can play inside or outside linebacker, and now he’s shown this year he can land on the end of the line of scrimmage and really play well.”

Longino is the first defensive player in school history to earn back-to-back player of the week recognition, and he is just the second Sun Devil to do so, joining kicker Thomas Weber (Sept. 29-Oct. 6, 2007). Longino is also the first player in the conference this season to earn back-to-back weekly honors.

Longino ranks second in the nation in tackles for loss, eighth in sacks, and leads the Pac-12 in both categories with 19 and 10, respectively. He is fourth on the team with 55 total tackles and has three quarterback hurries, two pass deflections, two pass break-ups, and has forced and recovered a fumble.

At the start of the season, Graham recalled how difficult it was to decide whether Longino or Christian Sam belonged at the Devil backer position. He’s certain now that he made the right choice.

“His upside is he’s only getting started,” Graham said. “Each week, it’s getting better and better and better, and that’s happened throughout the whole season, but it’s been a dramatic jump in the last three or four weeks.”

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