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Sun Devil Legends Series: No. 88 Joe Petty

No. 88 was hotly contested, but we decided to give the nod to Joe Petty, who compiled a 32-3 record during his career as a starter.

88 seems to be a good luck charm for the Sun Devils.
88 seems to be a good luck charm for the Sun Devils.

The Backstory: Throughout our "Summer of Legends" series, we've had plenty of clear choices and very few debates. Certain Sun Devils became iconic in their jersey numbers, including No. 95 Bob Kohrs and No. 93 Jim Jeffcoat. Those players were far and away the obvious choices, but it isn't so easy in choosing other numbers.

For example, today's number (88) has three extraordinarily well-qualified candidates. Joe Petty, Skip McClendon, and John Mistler each had sensational careers as Sun Devils, and they all deserve to have their legacies live on. However, their greatness has created quite a predicament, as we can only choose one legend.

While McClendon and Mistler each received All-America honors, we decided to select tight end Joe Petty as our legend at No. 88. Petty competed in an era when tight ends were mostly blockers, but he epitomized the dual-threat component of the position. Petty was a transcendent figure at the position, and that's why he's our choice at No. 88.

The Player: Joe Petty (1970-1972)

It's hard to argue that there was a more successful period in Sun Devil than the early 1970s. Between 1970 and 1972, Head Coach Frank Kush guided Arizona State to an overall record of 32-3 and tight end Joe Petty was a major contributor in each of the three seasons.

Petty was a ferocious blocker, but it was his pass catching skills that helped set him apart. Following in the footsteps of tight end Ken Dyer (1965-1967), Petty helped create his own legacy by catching 81 passes for 1,352 yards over three seasons.

For his efforts, Petty was recognized as a two-time First Team All-Western Athletic Conference tight end.

Arizona State has produced a wealth of talented tight ends, but forty years after Petty's playing days, he still remains in the top five to ever play the position at Arizona State.

While Petty did not garner All-America attention, the tight ends who did take home honors in 1971 and 1972 (Riley Odoms and Charles Young) did go on to Pro Bowl careers in the NFL.

Honorable Mentions

Skip McClendon: McClendon is among the most talented Honorable Mentions in our series as the two-year starter was a 1st Team All-Pac-10 performer at defensive end in 1986. That season, McClendon also gained recognition as an Honorable Mention All-American by the Associated Press.

John Mistler: Mistler's career stats still rank in the top 10 all-time for Arizona State receivers. The 1978 Garden State Bowl MVP was a three-year starter and he led the team in receptions in 1979 and 1980. Mistler was the team captain on the 1980 squad and was an Honorable Mention All-American that season as well.

Who Wears It Now?

As of now, the number remains unclaimed, but the team here at House of Sparky thinks that JUCO transfer De'Marieya Nelson would be wise to put No. 88 on his back.

Notable 88s

Alan Page: 9 Pro Bowls, 4 NFC Championships, 148 career sacks, and Associate Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court. During his heyday, there was nothing this Vikings defensive end couldn't do. Looks like that still rings true today.

Tony Gonzalez: An All-American at Cal, Gonzalez might go down as the greatest tight end to ever play the game. A sure-fire Hall of Famer, he still hasn't given up in his quest for a Super Bowl.

Lynn Swann: All Swann did was win four Super Bowls with the Pittsburgh Steelers. His 51 touchdowns and 336 career receptions might not stand out, but it's hard to argue with his rings.