The Backstory: Congratulations gang, we've made it through our first ten Arizona State football legends. Crazy how time flies when we're going out on a limb to call someone a "legend" due to No. 99-91 being so barren, right?
Well, just to make things interesting, it's time we introduced our first active player onto the list. And yes, that means coming to terms with the fact that we're all actually watching a legend unfold right before our very eyes.
Heavy stuff, I know. But Will Sutton is a heavy man.
The Legend: No. 90 DT Will Sutton (2009-present)
Twelve months ago, Will Sutton was a talented yet underachieving returning starter on a porous defense about to make a drastic scheme change. Funny how much can change in a year.
Heading his senior season, Sutton has emerged as not only the premier defensive player in the Pac-12 but one of the best interior stoppers on all of college football. Sure, one might say a singular spectacular year ins't enough to earn legend status but Sutton's 2012 might have been the most dominant season by any Sun Devil ever.
Sutton led both ASU and the entire Pac-12 conference in sacks (13) and tackles for loss (23.5). Both statistics were fourth most in university single-season history and both we're acquired with mind-boggling efficiency. Sutton was second in the nation in tackles for loss per game (1.92) and third in nation in sacks per game, missing essentially two full games with a knee injury.
Sutton didn't just spend all his time setting up camp in the opponent's backfield either. He also put on swat clinic (five passes deflected), created turnovers (three forced fumbles) and made him teammates substantially better just by being on the field (as evidenced by ASU shockingly leading the Pac-12 passing defense).
The best part of all? On top of all those sweet, sweet numbers, Sutton took home some serious hardware. For his extraordinarily disruptive efforts Sutton earned both the Pac-12 Pat Tillman Defensive Player of the Year Award and the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl Defensive MVP Award all while becoming Arizona State' 18th Consensus All-American.
No, his numbers before 2012 were nothing special (3.5 sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss in two seasons). But Sutton's finest season so far resulted in more production than the average player gets out of an entire four-year career.
Yet you want to know that craziest part of all? We could be talking about Sutton being the greatest defensive player in the history of Arizona State this time next year.
In the Pros
Soon, young padawan. Very soon.
LB Scott Stephen (1982-1986): While not as flashy as Sutton, Stephen had a long productive career at Arizona State before becoming a third round pick of the Green Bay Packers. It's a rarity to see a versatile four-year letterman get runner up but unfortunately for Stephen, Sutton decided to don No. 90 two decades later.
DT Randy Moore (1972-1975): Moore was starter across the defensive line for a number of Frank Kush's finest squads (including a certain 12-0 team in 1975). He may have fizzled out in the NFL quickly but we'll always have that Fiesta Bowl.
Other Famous 90s
NFL DE Neil Smith (1988-2000): Although he clearly wasn't a huge fan of allegiances by the way he traveled throughout the AFC West, Smith's ability to get to the quarterback was undeniable. With a wingspan over seven feet, Smith used his long arms to wrangle in 104.5 sacks in his career.
NFL DE Julius Peppers (2002-present): A top three draft pick like Smith, Peppers already has surpassed the NFL legend with 111.5 sacks and counting. Considering that 22.5 of those have come in the last two years, it wouldn't be entirely shocking to see Peppers join the 150-sack club.