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Sun Devil Legends Series: No. 99 Shawn Swayda

While there were many deserving candidates, an anchor on the stout 1996 defense gets our nod as the greatest Sun Devil to wear No. 99.

Shawn Swayda helped ASU knock off No. 1 Nebraska in 1996.
Shawn Swayda helped ASU knock off No. 1 Nebraska in 1996.

The Backstory: Our "Summer of Legends" series kicks off with the always-entertaining No. 99. Though only a few Hall of Famers in major sports have donned the largest number available, 99 is usually reserved for larger-than-life personalities.

For the Sun Devil football program, the players who wore 99 are no exception to this rule. While 99 has only been trotted out sparingly in comparison to other numbers, there's a definite theme amongst the players who wore it.

Through the years, the Sun Devil 99s have proven themselves as leaders in the locker room as well as on the field. Three different team captains wore 99, including our selection as today's Sun Devil legend.

The Legend: No. 99 DE Shawn Swayda (1992-1996)

Swayda was a three-year starter at defensive end for the Sun Devils in the mid 1990s. The Phoenix native earned a spot on Bruce Snyder's 1994 team, and he developed into a very successful player throughout his career.

Swayda's most memorable season came in 1996, when he was named an Honorable Mention All-Pac-10 performer. That year, the Brophy Prep graduate joined fellow teammates Jake Plummer, Derek Smith and Scott Van der Ahe in one of the most impressive groups of team captains Arizona State has ever seen.

In 1996, Swayda helped the Sun Devils to an 11-0 record before falling in devastating fashion to the Ohio State Buckeyes in the Rose Bowl. Nevertheless, Swayda has his fingerprints all over one of the most successful teams in Sun Devil history.

When the Sun Devils upset then No. 1 Nebraska in week three of the 1996 season, Swayda was quoted after the game as saying, "We shut out the No. 1 team in America. If you want to play against us, you've got to come in here and knock us off."

The Honorable Mentions

Tim Landers: A versatile lineman, Landers started on the defensive line for two season in No. 99 before switching over and earning All-Pac-10 Honorable Mention honors as an offensive guard as No. 74.

Mitch Callahan: The nose guard was one of just two team captains on a 6-4-1 Darryl Rogers squad in 1983.

Tommie Townsend: In 2001, Townsend was an Honorable Mention All-Pac-10 defensive end for Dirk Koetter's Sun Devils.

Who Wears 99 Now?

As of now, 99 remains unclaimed, but perhaps a new recruit with a future in leadership will wear the number come fall.

Other Famous 99s

Wayne Gretzky-The Great One

George Mikan-Won six NBA titles with the Minneapolis Lakers-

Warren Sapp- All-American defensive tackle with the Miami Hurricanes and a Pro Football Hall of Famer.