Brandon Magee is Sun Devil football.
On the field, that statement will only be true for another five months or so, as the senior is eyeing careers in both the NFL and in professional baseball, where he recently signed a contract with the Boston Red Sox.
However, off the field, the 5'11", 233 pounder embodies all the ideals and character that the program could hope for, and those will last far longer than Magee's playing days.
But for now, the 2012 Sun Devils will need the convergence of both facets to greatly help their bowl chances.
Magee is still working his way back from the season-ending Achilles injury suffered in last year's training camp, but he is feeling good as this year's camp draws near.
"I've been stuck on 80 for a while now, but I'm in the 90s now. Hopefully during camp, I can get to the 100% mark."
Despite not playing a live down in nearly 19 months, Magee's immense talent was recognized this week as he was one of 51 linebackers nationally to be named to the Butkus Award watch list, an honor bestowed annually to the country's best at the position. Despite such recognition, his focus remains firmly on the team.
"That's an individual award. I'm worried about the team and how good we're going to be this season, and getting my other guys ready to go. That will come with good play, but right now, I'm just focused on the team."
It is honors like that that has resulted in Magee inheriting the mantle of the "face of the program" title from Brock Osweiler, a role that he embraces to a degree.
"It's been pretty fun, going to news stations and stuff like that. Face of the program or not, I just want the team to be good, and I need some other guys on the team to credit."
For the team to be good as he hopes, it will need Magee to play to his potential. In 2010, he registered 73 tackles (five for loss) 1.5 sacks and one interception. Those numbers should increase greatly this year in the new attacking defensive scheme that plays to each player's strengths, and in Magee's case, that's blitzing.
"I'm most looking forward to blitzing. A lot. I like hitting the quarterback, I like hitting running backs and running them over. All that is fun, because when you get up, the fans cheer and that's a great feeling."
While Magee's production should not be much of a concern, it's his place among the rest of the defense, and the linebackers specifically, that will bring some questions. The team lost its top four linebackers from a season ago, leaving Magee to lead an inexperienced but talented group of linebackers, but he thinks that the perceived slights to the group are merely fuel to the motivation fire.
"We are hard workers. We are guys who-myself, I feel I'm underrated-so all of use feeling we're underrated, we all have something to prove. We're tired of hearing people say we lost a lot of linebackers, we're young, we can't do this, we can't do that. We're just ready to prove everybody wrong."
If Magee and company can do just that, his final year in Tempe could be special.
Previous Most Important Player Countdown Entries:
8) OT Brice Schwab
9) K Alex Garoutte
10) LB Steffon Martin
11) NT Mike Pennel
12) DT Will Sutton
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