Todd Graham and the Arizona State football program already have reason to celebrate 2013 after consensus First Team All-American defensive tackle Will Sutton announced Tuesday he will forgo the NFL and return to Tempe for his senior season.
“It was a lot of things,” Sutton told the assembled media. “Some of the main things [are] coming back and winning a championship. I’m doing it for my teammates and to get an education, get my degree.”
The former Centennial High School star from Corona, California experienced a breakout season becoming the first ASU player since Baltimore Ravens All-Pro Terrell Suggs to earn consensus First Team All-American honors after registering 23.5 tackles for loss and 13 sacks. He recorded a tackle for loss in all 12 games he played in as a junior.
“It speaks volumes for his character and how he loves Arizona State and his teammates,” head coach Todd Graham said at the press conference. “Obviously I’m excited. It’s a big deal for us to have him back.”
Sutton, the anchor of a much improved unit which finished second in the conference in total defense, was named the Pac-12 Pat Tillman Defensive Player of the Year and the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl Defensive MVP after tallying 3.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks in the Devils 62-28 route of Navy last month in San Francisco.
After the announcement some of Sutton’s teammates said they tried to leave him alone during the decision making process and allow him to do what’s best for himself and his family.
“We always gave him advice [here and there], but we never talked about it,” senior defensive end Davon Coleman said. “But I thought he was going to come back.”
Despite a challenging schedule this fall the Devils will look to improve and build on last year’s success (8-5, 5-4). Certainly getting the reigning conference defensive player of the year back is an added bonus.
“It’s a huge step for us to know we have this whole off-season to train and even get better,” junior linebacker Carl Bradford explained. “I’m excited to see what this defense can do.”
Sutton’s parents and several of his teammates who attended the announcement cheered after he opened the session announcing his intentions for next season.