The Backstory: After counting down close to 40 numbers, we've entered the 50s. While the 80s were full of wide receivers and the 70s and 60s were dominated by linemen, the 50s are unique. Plenty of different positions can wear numbers in the 50s and our "Summer of Legends" series should reflect that.
Today, we had yet another difficult choice on our hands as we pitted a successful career of a linebacker versus a defensive end who enjoyed one year in the spotlight. Ultimately, we gave the nod to the player who exemplified the ideal intangibles of a Sun Devil athlete. Mark Tingstad was a two-year team captain and a four-year All Pac-10 academic selection, but it was his on the field that put him over the top.
The Player: Mark Tingstad (1985-1989)
When Mark Tingstad first set foot on the Arizona State campus, the young freshman got to work right away. While success on the football field may have taken some time, Tingstad began making waves in the classroom from the moment his college career began.
Tingstad was named to the All Pac-10 Academic team as a freshman and he earned the same honors during his sophomore season. When coach Larrie Marmie was hired in 1988, Tingstad earned his first shot as a starter and he took advantage of the opportunity.
That season, Tingstad was named a team captain and he led the team in more ways than one. From his inside linebacker spot, Tingstad made plays all over the field and recorded an Arizona State record with 172 tackles. Tingstad also set the Arizona State record for solo tackles with 114 and he is still the only Sun Devil to surpass 100 solo tackles in a season.
For his efforts, Tingstad was named an Honorable Mention All-American by the Associated Press and a Second Team All Pac-10 linebacker. As a senior, Tingstad was named a team captain for the second consecutive year and also earned Second Team All Pac-10 honors yet again.
As Tingstad established his presence on the field, he never dropped off in the classroom. In fact, Tingstad is the only Sun Devil football player to be named to an Academic All Conference team for four straight seasons. Though the teams he played on were not exceptional, Mark Tingstad surely stood out from the pack.
Derrick Rodgers: Rodgers had one of the greatest seasons ever for a Sun Devil defensive end in 1996. That season, the Bronco Nagurski finalist and led Arizona State with 12 sacks and 24 tackles for loss. He was also named a First Team All Pac-10 performer.
Gary Padjen: As a three-year starter in the late 1970s, Padjen was one of the last great linebackers of the Frank Kush era. In 1979, he was named an Honorable Mention All Conference player after leading the team with 135 tackles.