The Backstory: Players who accumulate sacks become fan favorites via game-changing plays, yet fundamental tacklers are just as important. Today's legend wasn't flashy, but he got the job done weekly. The former linebacker could be compared to the modern day Brandon Magee. Number 55 in our Sun Devil Legend Series is Joey Lumpkin.
The Player: Joey Lumpkin (1978-1981) The great Frank Kush made countless brilliant decisions, but holding Lumpkin out of the starting lineup until his junior year may have been the wrong call. In addition, Kush never saw Lumpkin on the gridiron because he was fired in the middle of 1979. Conversely, maybe the extra time on the bench and as a backup helped Lumpkin develop?
Regardless, whenever 55 got called, 55 delivered. Lumpkin took first team reps in the 1980 season, and he took full advantage of the opportunity. In case you're curious, the following statistic isn't a typo: Lumpkin accumulated 169 tackles in the '80 campaign.
100-plus tackle seasons are very rare, let alone 150-plus tackle seasons! Absolutely outrageous. By posting 169 tackles, Lumpkin instantly became one of the greatest linebackers ever to sport Maroon and Gold.
By doing so, Lumpkin earned an honorable mention selection to the 1980 All-Conference team. I'm still trying to figure out how Lumpkin didn't at least garner enough second team votes.
In Lumpkin's senior year (1981), he continued to be a nightmare for opposing offensive coordinators. As team captain, he tallied 121 tackles and was selected to the Second-Team All-Conference squad.
Looking back, the entire legacy of Lumpkin could be vastly different and improved if he simply played more. Some people like to talk about athletes pound-for-pound, and using the same tactic of year-by-year, Lumpkin is arguably the most productive ASU linebacker.
In the pros: Media experts joke the NFL stands for: not for long. However, the phrase is quite accurate. Unfortunately Lumpkin embodies the saying, only lasting two seasons for the Buffalo Bills.
Who Wears it Now: Sophomore reserve linebacker Jason Franklin currently wears number number 55.
Mike Kennedy - Kennedy also started two seasons at linebacker for ASU and was a team captain. Kennedy did so in the late 1960's and early 1970's, and played key roles on some of Frank Kushe's best defenses.