Everybody knows about Will Sutton. And for good reason, Sutton became the first Sun Devil since Terrell Suggs to be named a Consensus All-American. He dominated the opposition on his way to earning Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year.
While all eyes are focused on Sutton, Carl Bradford will continue to do what he does best. Cause havoc and get to the quarterback.
Bradford had a breakout 2013 campaign and is perhaps the most underrated player in the conference. The Norco, Calif. native tallied 11.5 sacks and 20.5 tackles for loss last season, both were good for second on the team (I think we know who was 1st in those categories).
However, Bradford does not mind sharing the spotlight. In fact, he believes all the attention on Sutton will only help his performance in 2013.
"I know he's a big time player and offenses are going to scheme around him," said Bradford. "It will allow me to get one-on-one blocks and I am going to take full advantage of that."
Bradford received his first start as a redshirt freshman at the 2011 MAACO Las Vegas Bowl. He collected 12 tackles, one sack and 3.5 tackles for loss.
Bradford's breakout 2012 earned him Honorable Mention All-Pac-12 recognition. Bradford and Sutton were the ASU first duo to record 20+ tackles for loss in a season since 1978 and the first duo to post double digit sacks since 1994. As for what to expect in 2013?
"My personal goal is to beat the (ASU) sack record, 25 sacks," said Bradford. "That's my only goal and I think I will accomplish that."
Along with the rest of the Arizona State defense, Bradford must improve in his run stopping abilities. The Sun Devils finished 10th in the Pac-12 in rushing defense in 2012.
"Technique and staying low, using my hands and stuff like that," Bradford said about what he tried to improve on this offseason. "Taking the right steps, but it was mostly technique."
Co-defensive coordinator Paul Randolph knows how valuable Bradford is to the team and having two players that posted double digit sacks in a season is a luxury not many coaches have.
"He came onto the scene last year and nobody really knew about him and he just quietly had a really good season and his final stats sneak up on you," said Randolph. "I think he was one of the most improved players in the offseason. He's going to have to bring all that to the football field and if he does I think he's going to be a dominant and impact player for us."
Names to Know
Chris Young - Senior - 6'0" , 233 pounds: Young is perhaps the most versatile player on the ASU defense. He was getting reps all over the linebacking corps during fall camp but will likely settle at WILL linebacker. Young played SPUR last season and was moved to WILL to get him closer to the ball. Look for Young to take a bigger leadership role this season with the loss of Bradon Magee. He finished third on the team with 82 tackles last season and with Young being closer to the ball, expect that number to rise.
Steffon Martin - Senior - 6'1", 231 pounds: Like Young, Martin transferred in last season from a junior college. He posted 27 tackles, including 6.5 tackles for loss. Martin will likely be lined up at SAM linebacker, although he has been pushed by Salamo Fiso in fall camp. Martin played in all 13 games last season and provides experience and leadership to the ASU defense,.
Anthony Jones - Redshirt Senior - 6'1", 212 pounds: Jones is a local product out of Chandler, Arizona. He has worked his way up the depth chart throughout his time at Arizona State and now stands to start at SPUR linebacker. Jones has been a strong contributor on special teams for the past two seasons and returned an interception for a touchdown against Oregon last season.
Grandville Taylor - Redshirt Senior - 6'0", 224 pounds: Taylor is a former walk-on who earned a scholarship last fall and has impressed coaches in fall camp. Taylor has been pushing for time at WILL linebacker and will be a feature on special teams this year at the very least. Look for Taylor to push for playing time this season and be a featured part of the ASU defense.
Chans Cox - Freshman - 6'3", 240 pounds: Cox is physically ready for the college level. Cox has been getting reps at DEVIL linebacker behind Carl Bradford during fall camp. Like any freshman, Cox needs to clean up his mental mistakes but if he does that Cox may see time this season as a true freshman.
Carlos Mendoza - Redshirt Freshman - 6'1", 220 pounds: Mendoza had a nice start to his freshman season before getting injured against Illinois. Mendoza is recovering from a knee injury and was in a non-contact jersey for some of fall camp. If healthy, Mendoza may see time this season but look for him to break out next season.
Salamo Fiso- Redshirt Freshman- 6'0, 226 pounds: Of all the Arizona State linebackers, Fiso has seen his stock improve the most this offseason. With an impressive showing in the spring and a strong fall camp, Fiso surprised everyone (and maybe even himself) when the fall depth chart came out. Currently, Fiso is listed as a co-starter at both the WILL and SAM linebacker positions and odds are that he'll get plenty of chances early on in the year.