The Backstory: Playing inside linebacker requires extensive knowledge of the entire defense. Attempting to stop the run while covering wide receivers over the middle presents a difficult challenge. Few can do it, but No. 45 Jimmy Williams consistently did so. Therefore, he will always be remembered as the premier Sun Devil to sport number 45.
The Player: Jimmy Williams (1981-1984)
Beyond the perennial powerhouses, most programs must place extreme focus on keeping their best talent in-state. Current football coach Todd Graham has brought the tradition back. Way back to 1980, head commander Darryl Rogers convinced Williams to stay in Arizona, and the decision paid off.
After barely recording time during his freshman year, Williams outperformed everyone's expectations. Not only did Williams come back and start, he also led the team in tackles with 153. The 153 mark ranks third best in ASU history, falling short of Mark Tigstad's 172 and Joe Lumpkin's 169 mark.
Despite defenses and game plans centering around Williams in 1983, he still accumulated 145 tackles. Award wise, Williams earned Honorable Mention All Pac-10 during 1982, but got spurned in 1983. Social media presence was nonexistent then, and the voters must be very thankful. Otherwise, the voters would've taken major grief about holding Williams off the conference team.
Heading into 1984, Williams was slated to be amongst the greatest linebackers in the country. Instead, injury derailed those hopes. Regardless, Williams captained the team and still remained around the program.
Over Williams' two-year starting stint, ASU went 10-2 and 6-4-1, totaling 16-6-1. Because of the unprecedented production, Williams will never be forgotten throughout Tempe. Sadly, Williams died in 1999 at 35 years old due to a heart attack.
Who Wears it Now: Two current players wear number 45: tight end Billy Davis and linebacker Justin Maenner. Neither Davis or Maenner get to see any time on the gridiron.
Kevin Tommasini - Paving the lanes for running backs may be the most thankless position. Tommasini possessed great brute strength at fullback, and made ground and pound football much easier. In 1996 and 1997, Tommasini earned Honorable Mention All Pac-10 honors.