The Backstory: Every number that we've covered in our "Sun Devil Legends" series has given us an opportunity to peruse the history books and uncover interesting facts. The series has allowed us to explore the Frank Kush era, rediscover Territorial Cup legends, and reminisce about Sun Devil greats of the past.
Today, we reach a new milestone in our series. At No. 52, we honor Arizona State's first Consensus All-American.
During his time in Tempe, Ron Pritchard established himself as the premier linebacker in college football. Furthermore, he set the precedent for how Arizona State linebackers should play. Pritchard's tenacity, drive, and will to win were unmatched, and we are excited to have the opportunity to write about him.
The Legend: Ron Pritchard (1966-1968)
From the moment he first took the field at Arizona State, Ron Pritchard was destined for greatness. Few players stepped right in to starting roles early in their careers, but for coach Frank Kush, having Pritchard on the field became a necessity.
In his first season in Tempe, Pritchard became an impact player and earned First Team All-Western Conference honors as well as an Honorable Mention All-American award from the Associated Press.
The following season, Pritchard continued his production at the "right linebacker" position and duplicated his honors from the previous year. That season, the Sun Devils went 8-2 including a 47-7 thrashing of the Arizona Wildcats in the final game of the season.
In 1968, Pritchard was the well-established leader of the Sun Devil defense and he took his game to new heights. As the Sun Devils rolled to another 8-2 finish, Pritchard earned First Team All-WAC honors for the third consecutive time.
However, his All-WAC selection was just the icing on the cake. That year, Pritchard became Arizona State's first Consensus All-American and he participated in just about every postseason showcase game imaginable. In fact, Pritchard was named the Most Outstanding Defensive Player at the 1968 East-West Shrine Game.
Pritchard's legacy is an example for how Arizona State linebackers should strive to play, and that's why he remains one of the most talked about players in Sun Devil history.
In the Pros: After his illustrious college career, the Houston Oilers selected Pritchard as the 15th overall pick of the 1969 common draft. Pritchard played three seasons for the Oilers in the American Football League and the National Football League as they transitioned. Then, Pritchard went on to play five seasons for the Cincinnati Bengals.
Who Wears It Now?
Though Pritchard's shoes are almost impossible to fill, the Sun Devil who currently dons 52 might be one of the few current players with a chance to fill them. Carl Bradford is emerging as one of the best defensive players in the country, and with another stellar season this year, he could be well on his way to earning All-American honors himself.