The Backstory: Throughout our "Summer of Legends" series, we've had the difficult task of comparing resumes and determining who deserves our honors. Because most numbers are worn by players who played the same positions, stats have helped us identify our legends.
Through the 60s and 70s, offensive and defensive linemen dominated our series. In the 40s and 50s, linebackers owned the honors. But the 20s and 30s have caused quite a predicament, and that's the case at No. 24.
Today, we had to decide between a stellar defensive back and an outstanding running back. We compared rushing yards to interceptions, and we were forced to put a premium on one over the other. In the end, Eric Allen's 1987 season put him over the top against Mario Bates at No. 24.
The Legend: Eric Allen (1983-1987)
Arizona State is known for its exceptional linebackers on defense, and running backs and tight ends on offense. The program has always been able to hang its hat on having standouts at both positions. One of the more underrated positions in Sun Devil country is cornerback, as Arizona State has slowly built a "No Fly Zone" type of attitude throughout the program's history.
One of the main contributors to the "No Fly Zone" mentality started his Sun Devil career in 1983, and helped the team make its first Rose Bowl appearance a few seasons later. A lockdown corner from San Diego, California, Allen became a regular starter in 1985.
Allen had a penchant for big plays, and the first of his 15 career interceptions came during his sophomore season. The following year, Allen's play was critical in the Sun Devils' success, as his ability on the edge prevented teams from racking up passing yards.
In 1986, Allen earned Honorable Mention All Pac-10 honors en route to helping the Sun Devils to a 10-1-1 record and a Rose Bowl victory. Though the Sun Devils were not able to replicate their success in Allen's senior season, it wasn't for his lack of effort.
As a senior, Allen intercepted eight passes, which stands fifth in school history for a single season. Allen also earned First Team All Pac-10 honors, and even received a nod as an Honorable Mention All-American from the Associated Press.
Allen was sensational during his career at Arizona State, but he would prove to be an even more complete cornerback in the pros.
In the Pros: The Philadelphia Eagles selected Allen in the second round of the 1988 NFL Draft. Allen may have been a second round pick, but he had first round talent and proved it throughout his 14-year career. The proud Sun Devil made six Pro Bowls, and managed to make five in a row at the height of his career. The Eagles, New Orleans Saints, and Oakland Raiders are all pleased that Allen made a living playing for their teams.
Mario Bates: Bates was a First Team All-Conference running back in 1993 as he amassed nearly 250 carries and 1,111 yards. His eight career 100-yard games are tied for ninth most among Sun Devil backs.