USA TODAY Sports
The Sun Devils got some great news on Tuesday afternoon that should pay off in a huge way in 2013.
One more year.
Arizona State junior defensive tackle Will Sutton has announced that he will forgo the NFL Draft and return for his senior season in 2013.
The consensus All-American made the decision at a press conference held at the Carson Center on campus.
"It's been a great season," Sutton said to open the press conference. "We finished 8-5—a good accomplishment—and we're bowl champions. It's been a hard and long decision, but my decision is that I'm going to stay and play another year."
Sutton explained that there were many factors leading into his decision, and that he sought advice from a former teammate and recent Sun Devil great who also opted to stay for his senior year.
"There were a lot of pros and cons. It wasn't just one thing," Sutton said. "Some of the main things were coming back to win a championship, doing it for my teammates and getting an education and my degree. I took everybody's advice and I listened to what everybody had to say. I had to one day just sit down with myself and figure out what I'm going to do. I talked to Omar (Bolden) lots of times; he was a big help in giving me advice. "
Sutton finally tapped into his vast potential and developed into one of the nation's elite defensive players in 2012, racking up 13 sacks and 23.5 tackles-for-loss. Several times throughout the season, Sutton simply dominated the opposition, using his rare blend of quickness and power to wreak havoc behind the line of scrimmage.
He became just the 15th Sun Devil to be named a consensus All-American and took home the Pac-12's Pat Tillman Defensive Player of the Year award, in addition to numerous other honors.
His dynamic skill set helps to offset any size concerns that may cause some hesitation as a tackle at the NFL level. Although listed at 6-foot-1 and 267 pounds, Sutton added some weight during the year without sacrificing his agility, and his package of skills, athleticism and tenacity should allow him to fit both 3-4 and 4-3 teams. The popular comparison making the rounds is Geno Atkins, as Sutton could be next in the new breed of quick tackles that can be an effective interior pass rusher at the next level.
When asked about what feedback he received from the NFL, Sutton was more vague.
"Just about what I need to do, what round I was most likely projected in, and giving me helpful tips and advice if I was going to stay or come back."
His return strengthens an ASU defense that became one of the nation's most effective and aggressive units, finishing second in sacks and leading the nation in tackles-for-loss. The defense will return eight starters in 2013, and Sutton will form one of the nation's most fearsome 1-2 punches with Carl Bradford. The duo combined for 24.5 sacks and 44 tackles-for-loss in 2012.
With such talent, especially upfront, Sutton sees a promising 2013 ahead.
"I'm going to do some great things. We're going to do some great things."
Head coach Todd Graham was in attendance and spoke about "best defensive lineman" he's ever coached.
"I think it speaks volumes about his character and the development we've had here," Graham said. "I sat down with Will and spent time with him and his parents just like I would anybody. At the end of the day, I told him he has to do what's best for him...I think his teammates had a lot to do in that decision, and wanting to come back and lead this team to a Pac-12 championship, a Rose Bowl championship, and a national championship."
In the end, Graham summarized Sutton's decision succinctly.
"He chose his team. He chose his family, and their wanting him to finish his education."
Sutton's parents were by their All-American son's side, and his father Mickey explained that while they provided guidance, in the end, it was Will's decision to make.
"We tried to give him the pros and cons on both sides and present him with all of the information that we could and to give him the information he needed to make a sound, solid decision," said the elder Sutton, himself an NFL veteran of five seasons. "It came down to, basically, it's going to be his decision, because he's going to be the one that's here or the one that goes."
When asked what he will do now that his big decision is behind him, Sutton remained on point.
"Now I can get to work. I have class at 6:00."