The Backstory: Throughout our "Sun Devil Legends" series, we've faced many tough decisions. Bestowing the honor of the greatest player to wear a jersey number is difficult, but it is made even tougher when there are plenty of great players to choose from.
Typically, our selection process has one or two obvious choices and a few honorable mentions that will earn spots in our article. But today, House of Sparky had the task of selecting from three extraordinarily well-qualified candidates.
Many of our legends so far have earned All-American honors, while others appeared multiple times on All-Conference teams. Today, our honorable mentions include a Third Team All-American, and a two-time All-Border Conference selection. If that's not a testament to the greatness of today's legend, then we don't know what is.
The Legend: Grayling Love (2002-2005)
After a remarkable prep career in Sacramento, California, Grayling Love came to Arizona State with the determination to make an immediate impact.
During his freshman season, Love started just once, but was a factor on the offensive line as he played in all 14 games. The following season, Love became a starter on one of the best offensive lines in the Pac-10.
As a sophomore, he started 11 of the 12 games the Sun Devils played in. The decision to not start the 12th game was Love's, as he decided to allow a senior to start in his place on Senior Day.
After earning Second Team All-Conference honors, Love continued his dominance the following season as he started six games at left tackle and the other six at right guard. As the model of versatility and consistency, Love was named ASU's Outstanding Offensive Lineman as well as a First Team All-Pac-10 performer.
In his senior season, Love missed the final five games due to an injury, but still managed to earn Second Team All-Pac-10 recognition. This time, Love was honored as a center, as he made yet another position change to accommodate his teammates.
Love's resume is perhaps the most well rounded of any Sun Devil to come through the program. In 2005, Love was a Team Captain and the winner of the Pat Tillman Valor Award. In each of his four seasons, Love was an Academic All-Conference honoree, including a First-Team scholar-athlete in 2004 and 2005.
Furthermore, Love won the Pac-10's Inaugural Sportsmanship Award in 2004, and he remains the only Sun Devil to earn that honor. On and off the field, Love epitomized what a Sun Devil athlete should strive to be.
Marvel Smith: Playing just a few seasons before Love, Smith compiled a resume that would have won him our full recognition if he did not wear No. 71. Regardless, Smith's honors include being named a Third Team All-American by Sporting News in 1999, and being an All-Pac-10 performer in 1998 and 1999.
George Flint: Few Sun Devils were ever named to multiple All-Border Conference teams. In a day when recognition was tougher to come by, George Flint managed to pick up First Team Honors in 1960 and 1961.