All is said and done for the Sun Devils on the gridiron this season, save the Sun Bowl in El Paso on Dec. 27. It's time to take a look back at some of the best individual players on the defensive side of the ball at their respective position groups.
Best defensive lineman: Marcus Hardison
He was one of only seven players to start every game for the Sun Devils in 2014, finishing tops amongst defensive linemen with 40 tackles. The senior came on strong in the second half of the season, recording eight sacks over a 5-game stretch between Stanford and Arizona. Not even Todd Graham could explain his rise from mediocrity to defensive superstar, just saying, "His light came on." He accumulated 14 tackles for loss, forced three fumbles, one of which he recovered, and most impressively intercepting a pass against Notre Dame and Washington State. Hardison seemingly got snubbed off the All-Pac-12 teams, only earning an honorable mention.
Best linebacker: Laiu Moeakiola
He was the third best linebacker in terms of tackles with 63, but finished second on the team behind Hardison (10) with five sacks. When he left the UCLA and Arizona games with injuries, he was sorely missed on the defensive side of the ball. The Bruins had their way with ASU and the Wildcats also mounted a lengthy scoring drive against the Sun Devils to begin the second half when Moeakiola left the field with an apparent leg injury. ASU didn't really field a Devilbacker for a majority of the season, so his Spur linebacker spot became all the more crucial for the Sun Devils success. While he didn't necessarily stuff the stat sheet like the other linebackers, his presence and football IQ on the field wins him our award for best linebacker
Best corner: Lloyd Carrington
This is a tough award to give out because the play of the ASU corners in 2014 left a lot to be desired. They gave up huge plays over the top in multiple games this season and it certainly wasn't a position of strength for the Sun Devils. Carrington, however, was the best of the bunch as expected. He recorded 54 tackles on the season, but also stepped up when it really mattered and had one of his best outings against Notre Dame with eight tackles and a 58-yard interception return for a touchdown. He also had three sacks, but there were times where he still got burned against Washington State and UCLA. For a position that lacked depth, his persistence on the field deserves admiration, but he didn't have a huge impact on the field.
Best safety: Damarious Randall
Randall just edged out Simone here. He recorded 101 tackles and had three interceptions in the Sun Devils' last four regular season games. He was honored for his efforts too, getting named first team All-Pac-12. His speed saved touchdowns a few times this season, but when he got wide-eyed and saw a potential interception, it cost ASU more than once when he missed the ball. Still, Randall lived up to preseason expectations which isn't easy to do. Graham's safeties have to be athletic and versatile to run his style of defense and Randall was able to do that this season.
Offense was going to be too obvious to publish another piece (looking at you Kelly, Foster, Strong, Douglas) but we'll have our best of the best miscellaneous awards out Thursday.