Will Sutton reminds Dennis Erickson of “a young Warren Sapp”

Dennis Erickson is no longer the head football coach at Arizona State but that doesn’t mean he’s turned a blind eye to school that fired him just over a year ago.

In many ways Erickson is still linked to the program he coached for five season compiling a 31-31 record (21-24 in Pac-12 games). Several key players off this season’s 8-5 team under Todd Graham were recruited and coached by Erickson before he and the school parted ways.

No one player made more of an impact this year for the Sun Devils than defensive tackle Will Sutton. Recruited by Erickson and his staff from the ASU pipeline known as Centennial High School in southern California, Sutton burst onto the national scene after a breakout season where he led ASU in sacks (13) and tackles for loss (23.5).

Sutton has not decided if he will forego his senior season and enter the NFL draft but regardless, Erickson sees a bright future ahead for the 2012 Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year.

“He became what we thought he was going to be, a dominating football player,” Erickson told Pros2Preps Thursday on ‘Big Guy on Sports.’ “He reminds me a lot of Warren Sappโ€ฆbuilt like him, very explosive like him, can run like him. [He’s] not real tall, but tall enough. I was happy to see the year he had.”

Erickson said he isn’t sure which way Sutton is leaning, but believes it’s in the player’s best interest not to leave school early unless it’s a certainty he will picked in the first round.

One player who left early, but wasn’t drafted at all is linebacker Vontaze Burfict who has thrived under head coach Marvin Lewis in Cincinnati, after the Bengals signed him shortly after the draft last spring. His 127 tackles led the team.

“I’m really happy for him,” Erickson explained to Pros2Preps.com. “Obviously he didn’t have the senior year or junior year he wanted, but he stepped upโ€ฆand realized it’s about making money and being the best player that he can.”

He said he would consider coaching again if it were the right situation and would like to stay involved with the game at some capacity if at all possible.